Chihuahuas race for trip to California
Published May 20, 2007
LEAGUE CITY — “Brownian motion” is the term scientists use to describe the random, chaotic motion of molecules in a liquid. It’s also not a bad way to describe the path of contestants at the annual PETCO Unleashed National Chihuahua Race-Regional Finals, which were at the League City PETCO store Saturday.
Informal stats showed that out of each heat of 10 racers, perhaps three made a beeline across the 10-yard course to the arms of their encouraging owners, who enthusiastically waved dog treats and favorite toys. The rest of the field seemed to find the brightly dressed crowd, media photographers and fellow runners to be of far more interest. This resulted in the type of melee associated with turning a class of first-graders loose at recess — though with much more face licking.
Some whispered parental encouragement into their dogs’ ears as the pre-race tension built for each heat. After one race, an owner gently picked up his miniature entry. The dog had chosen to orbit behind the starting line instead of heading for the finish. He said, “You’re still a winner” to his loving, if directionally challenged, pet.
Patricia Glatt wore a photo button with her entry’s likeness and the phrase “Tweeter is #1” on it. She drove down from Houston to race Tweeter, who is a California native. “He’s the fastest dog in the world,” she said. “Tweeter told me that he wants to show everybody what he can do and win the race.”
Many of the star entries sported costumes appropriate for their athletic status. One wore an Astros uniform complete with ball cap. Another was dressed in a pink, feathered tutu, while others bore message shirts such as “No pictures, please,” “model material,” or “I’d rather be shopping.”
PETCO’s entry standards were liberal. Janelle Watts, a marketing coordinator for the chain, said that even handicapped pets had been allowed to race.
“The two-legged Chihuahua ran halfway, sat down and rested, and then finished the race,” she said. “It’s all about the fun and the human-animal bond.”
A few raced without livery, but their owners made up for it. Angela Draut of Katy, spokewoman for the Tacito Belle Racing Team, said: “She’s running for the border. All seven of us have shirts, but Tacito Belle runs au natural.
“She’s 4 months old, but at home acts as if she were a 2-year-old terror.”
She confided that she brought Tacito into a restaurant covertly for a Mother’s Day celebration.
“I think we’re a little sick in the head over this dog.”
She had outfitted her entire family with black or pink T-shirts with the team name, a flame background and a photo portrait of her Tacito wearing what could only be described as a don’t-mess-with-me expression.
The American Kennel Club requires Chihuahuas to weigh in less than 6 pounds, with many topping the scales at much less.
The lineage of the breed does trace to Mexico, while some sources believe that it began with a Chinese hairless crossed with a native Totanec canine. The breed is currently rated at No. 11 in U.S. popularity.
The national finals will be in San Diego, Calif., this September.
Daisy, a brown and black Chihuahua edged out Tweeter, Tacito and more than 120 other dogs to become the local representative at the national finals. Daisy’s owner, Wendy Walden, drove in from Dallas and was first in line to register for the race Saturday morning.