The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Pets

September 5, 2013

Dachshund To The Finish: Dog Races Draw At PA Oktoberfest

— Although he can't see where he's going, Otto the dachshund relishes any chance he gets to run.

The blind canine - Otty to his friends - will show what he can do during the Wiener Dog Races at this year's PA Oktoberfest. The fall celebration takes place Sept. 13-15 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township. The races proved popular with the crowds in previous years, and multiple races will happen each day of the event. More than 180 dogs registered this year.

"You wouldn't believe how fast he goes," said Otty's owner, Janice Preston.

While the dog has never raced before, Preston and her husband, Ed Oltra, think he should make it to the finish line.

"We thought we'd register him and see what he can do," Oltra said. "I think he'll get the feel for what's going on."

Underdog

The couple doesn't know the cause of Otty's blindness, but his veterinarian said it is likely a nerve connectivity problem he was born with. They adopted him after Preston saw his photograph while volunteering at an animal shelter - someone brought him in after he was found wandering in traffic.

Preston went around the house with her eyes closed to check for obstacles that would prevent him from getting around, and bought grip tape to put along the edge of stairs to alert him to the drop. She crawled around with him until he got used to the home.

"As soon as I saw his picture and that he was 5 years old and blind, I thought nobody would take him. So we took him," Preston said.

"Best thing we ever did," Oltra added.

Preston and Oltra also own two other dogs and four cats, all rescues. Their pups, Maya and Chloe, will root for Otty in cheerleading outfits during his race at 2 p.m. on Sept. 14. Otty will appear in costume, too, as the canine superhero Underdog.

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