— No distractions
Partial hearing loss didn't stop Salty, a miniature dachshund who won her race last year and will return to defend her crown.
Owner George Abraham of Thornhurst saved the purebred double-dapple about four years ago, after learning she might be put down for her disability. Her rare coloring comes from breeding two dapple-coated dachshunds, risky since it can lead to birth defects such as blindness or deafness, Abraham said.
"I was not letting that happen," Abraham said. "I went as far as offering twice as much as they were asking for her. They ended up selling her to me for half of her original asking price as they wanted her to go to a good home."
Abraham fell in love with Salty, who has "the brightest blue eyes and pink nose." Being deaf may have given her an extra edge during last year's race, since she wasn't affected by the loud crowds, he said. She'll race this year at 8 p.m. Sept. 13.
"She is always by my side. Since she doesn't hear well, she doesn't wander far from me. So in a crowded place like the races, I knew she would want to be back with me, quickly" he said.
The dog's fear of bright strobe lights and flashes cost her a second win during last year's competition. When a photographer snapped her picture, the dog stopped dead in her tracks and ran the wrong way, Abraham said.
Dachshund half-brothers Fenway and Grover have plenty of room to practice in their Kingston backyard, running laps around the swimming pool under the watchful eyes of owners Karen and Pat Simmers and their children Andrew and Alyssa.
"Grover is easily distracted. He probably won't cross the finish line. If Fenway sees me, he'll probably be able to do it," said Karen Simmers.