On Sunday, March 28, pooches from across the state will find out who is "top dog" - and who gets to wear the coveted "Wien Jacket."
The 1st Annual Florida Wiener Dog Derby will be held at the Shell Factory & Nature Park next Sunday, with registration beginning at 11 a.m. and races from 1 to 5 p.m.
They are calling the "track" where the dogs will compete the North Fort Myers Derby Downs.
Doug Dailey and his dog, Tex, in front of the at starting gates he built for the 1st Annual Florida Wiener Dog Derby at the Shell Factory.
"We already have over 137 dogs registered from the area, throughout the state and from as far away as Columbus, Ohio," said organizer Doug Dailey of Doug Dailey Investiga-tions.
Additional hopefuls are coming from Boca Raton, Orlando, Sunrise and other areas.
"These are all purebred dachshunds," Dailey said. "There will be different divisions. There will be puppies 4 months to 1 1/2 years, adults 1 1/2 to 7 years and the 'Old Schools Division' from 7 years up."
What: 1st Annual Florida Wiener Dog Derby
Race: Sunday, March 28, 1-5 p.m.
Pre-race party: Saturday, March 27, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Shell Factory & Nature Park, 2787
North Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers
Information: 839-7760 or Floridawienerdogderby
Vendors: 462-446 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The top dog gets the "Wien Jacket" if it competes in the Master's Division - any dog of any age.
They will be taking pre-registration on the Web site and registration forms are available at the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and the Shell Factory. Pre-registration is encouraged.
"I was in Austin, Texas, and went to a similar race," Dailey said. "It was the funniest thing I'd been to and they had over 5,000 people there. When I came back I talked to the Shell Factory's Donna Ellis, who loved the idea. It went from there."
"It's a charity event," said Ellis, who is marketing director for the Shell Factory. "Proceeds go to the Animal Refuge Center and P.A.W.S."
The event just keeps getting bigger and better, said Dailey, who grew up in North Fort Myers and attended Tropic Isle Elementary and North Fort Myers High School.
He recently went to his old high school to get the ROTC involved.
"They [the North Fort Myers High ROTC] will do the presentation of colors at the opening ceremony for the race," he continued.
Dailey's own dog Tex - an experienced wiener racer - will be among the entries.
"Since I'm running the event and am the announcer, my young cousin Ashlyn Jones will be running Tex," he said.
It is all about fun, and raising money for animal charities. It has also brought his family and new and old friends together.
"We are also having a pre-race party at the Shell Factory's Dog Bones Cafe - through the Capt'n Fishbones Restaurant, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 27," Dailey said.
This is a dog-friendly event, he said, so bring your dogs.
"It's also a chance for me personally to meet some of the people I've talked to on the phone, put names together with faces - before the derby," he added.
Dailey is an organizer by heart. He organized the first semi-pro, Southwest Florida Baseball League in Lee County in 1990, and has been a force in other endeavors.
Every first Saturday of the month, he takes Tex to senior centers with P.A.W.S. to help with elder pet therapy.
Winners in each division will receive a plaque recognizing their accomplishment, plus free entry into the Masters Division race for the 2011 Florida Wiener Dog Derby.
The overall or Masters champion will receive a cash prize, plaque, free entry into the Masters Division race for the 2011 Florida Wiener Dog Derby and the presentation of the coveted "Wien Jacket" signifying it as the champion of the Florida Wiener Dog Derby in an awards ceremony immediately following racing action.
Racing is open to all dachshunds (wiener dogs) 4 months of age and older - as long as they are current with shots and shot records indicate they are of a Dachshund breed. A copy of current shot records will be required prior to entry or the dog will not be eligible. All wiener dogs must be leashed when not racing.
An entry fee of $10 will be charged per entrant per race. Dogs may race in two divisions - the dogs age division plus the Masters Division. Dogs that are pre-registered by March 10, 2010, can enter two divisions for just $15. Owners who have four or more wiener dogs within their immediate family will receive one free entry fee for every three entered.
"Even for those who don't have a race entrant, this will be a fun day filled with laughter and a great time while watching some pretty amazing racing," said Ellis in a prepared statement. "This is a family event that can be enjoyed by anyone of any age, and the best part of all, it's free."
For more information, visit floridawienerdogderby.com or to register call Florida Wiener Dog Derby Inc. at 839-7760 or e-mail Floridawienerdogderby@yahoo.com