Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's All Over But The Crying

The wiener national finals were today, and yes, one of the dogs we were following won it all!!!

Talk about unbelievable luck. When we set out shooting this doc, we hoped that at least one of our dogs would make it to the end. To have dreamed we'd have 4 dogs make the finals, and one take it all would have been too much to ask for. But it happened.

Bruno gives his mom a pre-race good luck kiss

We've got great footage of the races (7 cameras total, including 1 steadicam and 1 platform cam) - I just looked at the dailies and it looks amazing. I can't wait to start cutting this. We now have the story - now we need to work backwards and fit the footage in. At last count we have 130+ hours of footage to weed through. This is going to take a while...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bounced from the party...

What a difference a year makes. Exactly a year ago we were invited by Wienerschnitzel to attend the pre-race party, where we filmed interviews and hobnobbed with the "who's who" of West coast wiener racing.

This year we weren't so welcomed.

In fact, Wienerschnitzel had me bounced at the door. They refused to speak to me on camera, or even grant me an off-camera interview. What are they afraid of? What are they hiding? Beats me, but it makes for entertaining B-roll...

Tomorrow are the national finals. We have defending champ Noodles, Heidi Roo, Bruno, and Vinny Barbarino in the finals. Four out of the 13 dogs are ones we've been following for the past year. I have a feeling either Noodles or Hailey will take it all. Anybody want to make a wager with me?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Vinny Makes The Cut

Wow, wow, wow.

Yet another of our dogs has made it to the national finals - barely. Tucson's Vinny Barbarino *squeaked* by in his first race, stopping at the beginning to sniff another dog's butt before making a beeline to the finish. The following night he did the same thing - doing a full 360, before taking off for the finish line, his jersey falling off between his legs. His performance was so breathtaking that it was #5 of ESPN's "Play of the Day" countdown.

That means we now have 3 dogs in the national finals, and the odds are slowly tilting significantly towards our favor. As it stands, 3/13 finalists will be dogs we've been following over the past year. I like those odds.

Vinny's got tremendous speed. Sadly he has the attention span of a fruit fly. Will he prevail this December? It's anybody's guess.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Big Apple Wieners

We're in NYC for the annual Doxtoberfest. This is the day when hundreds of doxies from across New York City meet up in Washington Square Park.

This pimpin' wiener takes a break
at Washington Square Park

It truly is a sight to behold. It's one of two days in the year when dachshunds take over the park - and undoubtedly the day that creates the most smiles in the area.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Legends of Advertising

Just got back from a trip to Ohio and Illinois. In Findlay, Ohio we filmed the National Dachshund Races - an annual event that draws 200+ dogs from surrounding states for the title of fastest wiener in the Northeast.

After that we headed to Hinsdale, Illinois, where we interviewed Terry Baker and Dan Heagy, two retired ad execs who were the creators of the famous Miller Lite wiener dog racing ad that Ad Age has listed as one of the top ten advertising campaigns in history. It's pretty funny listening to these two guys - you can see why they were behind so many fun campaigns - their sense of humor is pretty warped.

Terry and Dan - advertising legends

Now I'm back in California and relaxing. To date I've travelled over 8,000 miles - and we're only 2/3 of the way through our shoots. I guess I should have tried to get an airline to sponsor me...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Noodles makes it!!!

Wow! We now have two dogs in the national finals this December. Tonight Noodles lived up to his reputation and placed second in the qualifiers, meaning he secured a berth to the championships.

Noodles and 9 month old phenom
advance to the finals

I'm so excited! One dog in the finals was great - two is even better. We now have a 2/13 chance of one of our dogs winning it all. You gotta love it! Lady Luck is definitely on our side.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Interview With A Giant

Today we shot an interview with Ron and Betty Rowland, and Baron, considered by most to be the greatest racing wiener dog in the history of the sport. A *very* large standard doxie, Baron dwarfs most other dachshunds, which undoubtedly helped with his victories, but as Ron says, it's the winning spirit that Baron has that drove him to win.

Baron was so successful that race organizers began to change rules and eventually banned him from the races. This was one of my favorite interviews and I can't wait to get into the edit suite to cut it.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Doping and wiener dogs

A few months ago we heard allegations of doping within the wiener dog racing community, so we decided to head up to the UCLA Olympic Drug Testing Lab to do an interview with the world's leading expert on doping on sports - Dr. Don Caitlin. He was not an easy guy to get access to, so we were pleasantly surprised when he accepted our invitation.

The "big dog" in the world of anti-doping

We're going to post his interview online for people to watch - he's got some interesting things to say on doping in sports.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hailey gets cut...

We just got back from Phoenix. What a hellish trip. We encountered one of Arizona's famous thunderstorms on our way in, and ended up driving the final 50 miles into Phoenix at an average of 15 mph. We also encountered a horrific traffic accident. Being an ex-firefighter, I stopped to help and gave first aid to the driver until the fire department arrived. After we got the driver extricated and airlifted out, I asked my cameraman Joe if he had gotten any of it on film. Uh, no... Grrrrr.

Luckily the rain held off for the races at the Phoenix Greyhound Park. Our local dog, Hailey, was in the lead in the first race, when she was attacked by the dog behind her. She still placed second, and advanced to the final race of the day, but was again attacked, and this time stopped to retaliate. Sadly, she didn't win - and was controversially knocked out.

Hailey seems down after her controversial loss

The ride back was less eventful, but nonetheless, unpleasant. The radiator started acting up, so we needed to have the heater on full blast as we drove through the desert to keep the car from overheating. Yuck!

I'm going to spend the day bathing in ice cubes to see if I can get my core body temperature back to a health 102 degrees...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

San Diego - Round One

Wow, what a day. Three of our dogs made it to the next round of qualifiers in San Diego. Bo, Blitzen, and defending champ Noodles, all kicked butt. Noodles day was a particular cliff-hanger for us. Initially denied entry at Los Al, Noodles made a surprise appearance in San Diego today, deciding to try to defend his title. His first few races were less than impressive - other dogs were attacking him, and as the day drew on, his times got slower and slower. Lo and behold, in the last race of the day, after having run 5 races, Noodles finally got it right - and got the fastest time of the day - qualifying for the next round by the skin of his teeth. To say I was sweating bullets would be an understatement.

Baby Luv out of contention

Sadly, Baby Luv was once again denied, being bumped out of contention in the second last race of the day, despite having posted one of the fastest times of the day earlier.

So as things stand now, we have Heidi Roo qualified for the finals, and three dogs qualified for the San Diego final qualifiers. If things keep going this well, we might have four or five dogs in the finals this December. Could the national title holder end up being one of those dogs? I can only hope...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Old World Races

Today we went to Old World German Village in Huntington Beach, CA., host to monthly wiener dog races. Most of the serious Wiener Nationals challengers race there regularly to gauge their opponents and stretch their legs. Today we spotted Todd and Poppy Kroeker, there with their dogs Bo, Bruno, blazer, and Peanut. Baby Luv was also there - and all digs posted blazing times.

Hometown favorite Stretch blazes
to victory at Old World

If the races today were any indicators, we're going to have more than one of our dogs show up that the Wiener Nats finals in December. The San Diego qualifiers are next month, and Baby Luv and the Kroekers will be running there. I'd put money on all of them advancing to the final SD qualifiers. Time will tell.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Los Alamitos Wrap-Up

Chalk up our first success! Today at Orange County's Los Alamitos Race Track, Heidi Roo, one of the 6 dogs we are following made it to the finals this December in a convincing manner.

Heidi Roo & coach Stacy Smith

After having placed second twice to defending champion Noodles, Heidi finally won Los Al. The fact that Noodles was barred from participating from the contest notwithstanding, Heidi's speed was amazing - her races weren't even close. We know that we have at least one dog that will be running in December's finals - so that's one worry that I can wipe from the slate. Next stop is Phoenix where we'll see if Hailey can repeat her win from last year. My fingers are crossed.

Congrats to Heidi Roo - she's going to be a real contender this December.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Remembering a champion

We met with Bruce and Kathy Rice of Vista today. They are the proud owners of Blitzen, and of the late champion Pretzel, who died suddenly of an immune disorder last December, just weeks before the Wiener Nationals.

The Rice's are obviously still hurting, and they gave us an emotional interview recounting Pretzel's racing career. We got to see all the many awards he won, as well as many pictures of him with other celebrities.

Pretzel's little brother Blitzen is being prepped to take his place, and if his morning time split is any indication, he's a real threat to win this year. I have no doubt he'll make it to the final selection this fall in San Diego.

Pretzel's rivalry with Noodles was one of the wiener racing world's more famous rivalries. Maybe we'll soon be hearing about the Noodles Blitzen Blowout...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Orlando and Eddie Haskell

We did two fun interviews today.

The first was with Orlando Gutierrez of the Los Alamitos Raceway. Orlando runs the largest wiener dog race in America - average crowds of 10,500 pack his place every year as 64 dogs race for 2 spots at the national championships.

Orlando spoke to us about some of the champions that have made their mark at Los Al - Noodles, Pretzel, and Baron. Baron was his (and our) pick as the most dominant wiener dog to race in the west.

Next we headed down the road to meet up with actor Ken Osmond, who played Eddie Haskell in the old "Leave it to Beaver" show. Ken's dog Indiana Jones runs at Los Al, although last year he didn't do so well (he ran back into the starting gate). This year things might be different. Indiana runs like greased lightning, and he seems to have gotten over his fears. If I was a betting man I'd put money on Indiana making the final cut this summer...

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Difficult Questions

I dug this up this morning - it's most of the text of the email I sent to Wienerschnitzel's PR people, trying to get an interview with the VP of Marketing. They had demanded I send a copy of any questions I would be asking, so I did...


Subject: Questions for the interview

Hey Adam:

Here are my preliminary questions for the interview. Obviously they are mostly tongue-in-cheek (like the whole film). This might not be all the questions but gives you a gyst of the tone. Please let me know asap if we can finalize a date so I can lock in my crew.

[crap deleted]

I'm having a terrible time getting anyone from Adville [Wienerschnitzel's PR company] returning [sic] my calls. I really don't understand what the problem is. This is a film about Wiener Dog Racing. I don't know what they are afraid of but any help you could give me in getting them to participate would be greatly appreciated.

This film will be great for Wienerschnitzel - it's going to be a family film that will have wide appeal. But if Adville doesn't cooperate it makes it look like Wienerschitzel has something to hide (which is retarded but still kinda funny).

If you have a list of dates/contact people for the events I'd really love a copy so I can schedule my crew. I was also hoping that you might be able to get me a letter from Tom et al giving me permission to film these events - that way I don't have to deal with Adville at all.

Again thanks sooo much for all your help. You're going to be in my credits.
If you need to get in touch with my I can be reached at 858-XXX-XXXX.


PS - check out
  • Tell me about the history of the Wiener Nationals.
  • How critical are the Wiener Nats to the Wienerschnitzel marketing effort?
  • What are your favorite memories of the Wiener Nationals?
  • Who are some of the more memorable or famous characters you've met?
  • Some people really seem to take the Wiener Nats to heart. Have you had any run-ins with these people?
  • Some racers complain that others cheat by "launching" their dogs. Have you seen this happen? Is it forbidden under International Wiener Dog Racing Federation rules?
  • Are there any formal rules for the wiener nats? How are they developed? Is there a world governing body?
  • Is there any gambling on the Wiener Nationals? If so, can you hook me up?
  • How are the judges chosen and trained?
  • The DCA has come out in opposition to wiener dog races. What's your stance on this? How do you allay their fears of wiener dog racing becoming a for-profit circuit?
  • Would you be tempted to go to a track that had nothing but wiener dog racing?
  • I understand that the Wiener National events have raised money for humane societies across the country. Do you know how much money has been raised?
  • Noodles seems to have had the hardest time of all of the dogs - two years in a row he was robbed (the owner's words) and in 2004 he finally won. Unfortunately this year Orlando at Los Alamitos is not going to let Noodles run and defend his title. Do you think that's fair? Would you like to see Noodlesbe able to defend his title?
  • The Noodles and Pretzel rivalry was one of the more legendary wiener dog racing battles. Have there been any other rivalries that you can remember?
  • What's the fastest winning time for a Wiener Nats?
  • In your opinion, Who was the best champion wiener dog racer - Noodles or Baron?

Pretty hard-hitting stuff huh? I can see why any VP Marketing worth his salt would go scurrying to the hills. WHAT IS WIENERSCHNITZEL HIDING???

Wienerschnitzel Officially Sucks

Ok, we’re through the looking glass. Wienerschnitzel is officially refusing to give us any interviews on camera, or cooperate with our film in any way whatsoever. Why? Because I had this picture on our website… well as another pic of me getting my stitches out. Wienerschnitzel's PR flacks said they are concerned that I won’t reflect well on their “family values”. I explained to their PR people that the first photo I don’t even own – I posted it because I thought it was cute (it is), and the second was for my friends who wanted to see the stitches in my arm. Neither is destined for the film, and my site gets 10 hits a day (at most) - from blood relatives. My pleas fell on deaf ears.

The more I think about it, the angrier I get. “Wienerschnitzel has wholesome values and an image we need to uphold”??? Wha...wholesome??? You feed kids hotdogs

Here’s what Wikipedia says about hotdogs…

  • Hot dogs are generally regarded as unhealthy insofar as most have high sodium, fat and nitrate content. Contents can also be questionable, with cheaper types of hot dogs having been known to contain snouts, ears and organ meat blended.
Hmmm, I guess those high moral values involve feeding kids wholesome fatty chili-covered crap. For the record, I DO NOT ENDORSE GIVING WIENER DOG PUPPIES BEER OR SMOKES. Wait until they are 3 years old, the legal wiener dog age of consent, and even then only let them drink if they're REALLY Jonesing. I guess what I'm trying to say is "moderation" people...

Back to reality, I suspect the *real* reasons Wienerschnitzel won’t speak to me are:

  1. They seemed to be very panicked at the 2004 party that we *may* have filmed a couple of their executives drinking (but not drunk). Gee, drinking at a party - not exactly a scandal... I promised that we would not use any footage of people drinking – but that didn’t seem to satisfy them.

  2. They were also (or so they say) unaware that the Dachshund Club of America is officially opposed to wiener dog races for a variety of reasons. I had told Wienerschnitzel that I’d like to get their side of the story. They have declined. Fine. I guess I’ll tell their side for them.
Seems pretty bizarre (and pathetic) that a company that sponsors an event won't go on camera to speak about said event. What the hell are they hiding? It's WIENER DOG RACING!!! How controversial can it be??? Corporate America is running scared and I blame Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock - they've ruined it for the rest of us documentary filmmakers! Dammit Mike and Morgan, you owe me!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Tucson party and doping allegations

We just got back from Tucson for Vinnie Barbarino's birthday. We met Vinnie and his owner Paul Aman at last year's Wiener Nationals in San Diego, and drove out to interview them both as well as get a spring time split. Vinnie's time were impressive - he's a real contender - when he stays focused. I'm pretty sure Vinny has a serious case of canine ADD - he has a predisposition to chasing dogs in other lanes instead of focusing on winning his race. But when he runs straight he's very fast.

The party was a blast and we had a fun interview with Paul. One surprising accusation that he made is that Noodles was "juiced up" at the finals. We're going to investigate the allegation to see if there's any substance to them. We'll keep you posted...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Heidi Spring Visit - Noodles Loses!

We met up with Heidi Roo at the Riverside Dachshund Rescue Picnic, where she set a blistering pace for her spring time trial. That dog loves to run – at the picnic they had wiener dog races, and Heidi was going berserk as she watched other dogs racing – she wanted a piece of them so badly. Noodles made a surprise appearance with his owners, and was upset in his match with Stretch, one of the regulars at Huntington Beach’s Old World monthly wiener races. Hopefully this was just a glitch. Could it be that Noodles is losing his touch? Doubtful.

We also met up with Skittles, a sweet little doxie that suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of a “man of god”. I’ve attached some video of our meeting with her.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Heidi's Spring Visit - Noodles loses!!

We met up with Heidi Roo at the Riverside Dachshund Rescue Picnic, where she set a blistering pace for her spring time trial. That dog loves to run – at the picnic they had wiener dog races, and Heidi was going berserk as she watched other dogs racing – she wanted a piece of them so badly. Noodles made a surprise appearance with his owners, and was upset in his match with Stretch, one of the regulars at Huntington Beach’s Old World monthly wiener races. Hopefully this was just a glitch. Could it be that Noodles is losing his touch? Doubtful.

We also met up with Skittles, a sweet little doxie that suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of a “man of god”. I’ve attached some video of our meeting with her.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Wienerschnitzel's Wiener-dog Wall of Silence

Still no word back from Wienerschnitzel, but my last contact with them did not give me the warm and fuzzies. Their PR people are petrified of me. It's truly the most bizarre thing I've ever experienced. If anyone had told me when I started making this film that it would be a continuous battle to get interviews with people I would have laughed.

My film is rapidly becoming a hybrid of "Best in Show" meets "Bowling For Columbine". What the hell's happening to my wiener dog movie?!?!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Getting down and dirty

Today was a blast. We filmed the Dallas Fort Worth Earthdog competition - earthdog is pretty funny to watch. Picture this, a wiener dog has to make his way through an underground maze, find a rat in a cage, scratch/bark at the rat for a minute, then the rat is removed. So now you have a wiener dog playing underground in dirt, looking for a rat that just disappeared, and his owner is at the opening to the maze calling the dog out. The owner has 60 seconds for the dachshund to "recall". Now what do you think the dog's going to do - obey its owner and come out of the tunnel, or continue having a blast underground?

Yup, they rarely recall, and that's good for us. We got some hilarious shots of people going nuts as they tried to call their dog out. Bribes, threats, promises, pleas. Pretty funny stuff. Can't wait to get back to San Diego to edit this down...

Friday, April 01, 2005

The trials of shooting field trials

We're in Hempstead, Texas for the DCA's national field trials competition. It's a pretty neat contest - dachshunds are brought out in pairs after a rabbit has been chased through an area. The doxies need to rely on their noses to detect the rabbit's scent and figure out which path it took.

It's really difficult to shoot one of these events - the rabbits are so fast, and the grass the wiener dogs run through is really tall. After a day of shooting we only really have shots of people chasing rabbits and dogs running through grass. Again and again and again.

Still I think we have enough to make an interesting segment. I'm off to bed - tomorrow we are back for the Earthdog competition. From what I hear this is going to be hilarious to watch.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Noodles update / Baby Luv visit

Noodles got a clean bill of health from his vet. We filmed his spring visit, then stopped in to Baby Luv's house to check up on her.

Noodles turns his head and coughs...

We got spring time trial splits for both – these are some FAST wiener dogs… Both are definite contenders come this fall.

Baby Luv and her parents Dayton and Bobbie
Baby is one of the faster wiener dog racers
on the West Coast

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Noodles has a seizure. Wienerschnitzel still holding out (?!)

Still getting pushback from Wienerschnitzel. Heard today that Noodles had a major epileptic seizure the other day. We'll be going with him to his vet checkup this week. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Back to Wiener Central

We made it back safe and sound. We shot 20 hours of footage over two and a half days. That may not sound like much but trust me, it was grueling. We got lots of great interviews at Westminster, and were lucky enough to get invited to the Knickerbocker Dachshund Club's show the day before WKC. There we met up with Charles Baris, who quite frankly, is a blast, and the elusive Iris Love, patron saint to the dachshund world. We actually crashed her party after being uninvited - thankfully it all ended well and we got our interview. We also met up with John Mayhall and Doodlebug, winners of the WKC wirehaired dachshund competition. Here are some pics from the NYC visit.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Big Apple Wieners

We've arrived in New York for the Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Gardens. We had tons of interviews lined up, but one by one people have started dropping out. Why? Well after doing tons of digging we've discovered that people are afraid to talk to us because we might ask about either double dappled and piebald dachshunds, or about wiener dog races – both of which are (surprisingly) very sensitive topics within the dachshund world. The Dachshund Club of America is on record as opposing wiener dog racing, and they fear that my film will glamorize the sport.

I want to give all sides of the story, so I've arranged to meet the DCA's board of directors in New York to convince them to speak to me on camera. As for the double dapple/piebald debate, to be honest I had no idea this controversy even existed prior to people pulling out of my interviews. The more I dig the more divisive I find this debate is. Hopefully I'll be able to get somebody to speak to me on camera. This is definitely not how I though this little documentary was going to evolve. I never would have thought that a documentary about wiener dogs could evoke such emotion. Bizarre…

Monday, February 07, 2005

Some sanity...

The past week has been a struggle, but I've finally been able to able to coax my interviewees back into speaking with me. Apparently there are a few issues...

1) People are afraid that I am going to be promoting wiener races. The DCA is opposed to these races (which is why I wanted to talk to them), and they don't want to draw attention to these events.

2) There's a double dapple/piebald controversy that people are afraid I am going to talk about. I actually didn't know this controversy even existed - and how divisive an issue it is within the dachshund community.

So we're set for New York. I've got to go read more about double dapples and piebalds...


Friday, January 28, 2005

On being uninvited...

All right, I'm now officially starting to get annoyed. For a month I've had several interviews lined up to speak with some of America's top dachsund breeders and handlers at New York's Westminster Kennel Club show. I wanted to speak with them about the world of show dachshunds, as well as to find out why many in the Dachshund Club of America are opposed to dachshund racing.

Now all the people are dropping out one after the other. On top of that, it seems like we've been "uninvited" from Iris Love's famous party at the Tavern on the Green. We've been looking forward to interviewing a lot of people at this shindig, but our promised invitation never arrived and our phone calls are not being returned. What the heck is going on???

We're still heading to NYC - I've paid for the tickets and the crew so we're committed. We'll just have to wing it and hopefully we'll be able to talk some people into speaking to us on camera.
If anyone had told me that shooting a documentaries about wiener dogs would involve this much work chasing people for interviews I'd have laughed. I'm not laughing now...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Michael Moore and wiener dogs

Very weird. Wienerschnitzel, the hot dog chain that co-sponsors the Wiener Nationals, is not returning my phone calls. I keep getting a vague "wait and see" response from their PR people as to when I can interview one of the executives about the history of the Wiener Nationals. They say that since SuperSize me and Bowling For Columbine have come out, that companies are very hesitant to speak on camera. Um, if you’re making weapons or using child labor, maybe, but I just want to ask them about wiener dog racing. This will probably be resolved soon.