ACT News

Gang-gang. Dachshund gallops scheduled for Bungendore Show

There is not usually enough kitsch in this far too serious-minded column. But we remedy that today, with knobs on, by reporting that this Sunday's Bungendore Show will be enriched by (get ready to give a gasp of incredulity) dachshund racing!

Organiser Mark Ellis explains to us with pride that "On 31 January 2016, the Bungendore Show will be hosting the inaugural Werriwa Wiener Dash, the first – to our knowledge at least – dachshund race in the Southern Highlands."

Just like the Melbourne Cup, but with dachshunds.
Just like the Melbourne Cup, but with dachshunds.  Photo: Katrina Sherlock

Much more on this keenly-anticipated tournament in a moment.

Today's column could almost (but not quite) be said to have a theme in that the column is shared by the dachshunds and by the latest bulletin of (very exciting) news about the magnificent Rosenberg's monitor goannas being studied on Mount Ainslie. Dachshunds and goannas are all long, low creatures. But that is a very long bow, and we hurriedly lay it aside.

To the Bungendore event soon but first to eventful Mount Ainslie.

Faithful readers will know that we have been following the study that Matthew Higgins and the government's Dr Don Fletcher are making on Mount Ainslie of a very beautiful, vulnerable species of goanna, Varanus rosenbergi.

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As reported this is a busy season for the not-well-understood species. This is when it mates and when the females lay their eggs in chambers they hollow out (and later seal up) in termite mounds.

In past reports Higgins had informed with joy that the female Rosenberg, Rosie, had been watched laying her eggs in her chosen termite mound. She had sealed them up and was now standing guard. We published a photograph of her (in all her reptilian magnificence) being vigilant. Rosenbergs have to do some guard duty around their newly-laid eggs because other Rosenbergs may come and eat those eggs.

Now Higgins' very latest bulletin rejoices "Big news on the Rosie front!"

Rosie was much in evidence around her burrow and mound on Monday when Higgins was there with a companion.

"Here was Rosie coming downhill and only three metres away from me. She walked down to the burrow-mound area and sat in the sun, watching us. [Eventually] she became very alert and did lots of tongue-flicking, then moved into the fallen timber nearby. I then saw another monitor there! They greeted each other peacefully. The new one was much bigger. So I am assuming from the behaviour and size difference that the new monitor is her male partner. According to [a previous study] males do assist in this guarding work from time to time. So, meet Rex (yes, as in the big T).

"After another 15 mins, with them watching us, we left them to it and descended the hill. A large echidna was feeding just down slope as well. How rich Mount Ainslie is!"

But enough of the subtle elegance of nature and we hasten on to the inelegant but charming (and as we shall see altruistic too) spectacle of dachshund racing.

Mark Ellis of the Canberra Dachshund Group alerts us to the Werriwa Wiener Dash.

"Entry will be open to all breeds of dachshunds. Heats will be held throughout the day with finals held in the afternoon. We will also be hosting a Dapper Dachshund costume event for those sausages that like to dress up.

"Have you ever been to a dachshund race? If not ... think of the Melbourne Cup over a shorter distance with dachshunds instead of horses.

"They're not fierce competitors but they are certainly fun to watch. They are compact and very low to the ground, with short legs, but they give it [racing] their all. Well, some of them do. Others stand around sniffing each other, visiting people or running off into a field."

No dachshunds are perturbed by being entered in races, Ellis assures. They're not made to race "and in fact it's part of the fun to have them run off perpendicular to the track".

"And the track is only 20 metres long. It's just a fun event. The dogs won't be asked to do anything they're not already doing in their backyards."

And, yes, there is some dog-loving altruism about the event.

Ellis advises that "Entry to the race is by gold coins donation with all funds raised going to Dachshund Rescue Australia . DRA was started in 2009 to raise the profile of dachshunds needing rescue and rehoming across all states of Australia."

By race day Ellis hopes to have more than 60 of the stubby Phar Laps (some are coming from Sydney and from Wollongong) ready to gallop in a unique race meeting of eight races.

There will be more dachshunds there at Bungendore than just the canine Phar Laps in the races. One delicious prospect is that Bungendore may see on the day the world record for the largest number of dachshunds ever assembled in one place. The present record seems to be 141 and Ellis dreams of bringing world record glory to Bungendore by having 142 dachshunds there.

You can find out all about the event at the Canberra Dachshund Group's Facebook page.

And to finish with a big blob of kitsch, the Dachshund Group held a November fancy-dress meeting and called it a "Hallowiener" event. One dog (we have seen the unforgettable photo) wore a hot dog costume. It was complete with a squiggle of bright yellow mustard and with the dog's sausage-shaped body clasped in a realistic-looking 'bread' roll. We have not quite had the courage to publish this controversial image.