Watch out, Wienerschnitzel, there’s a new hot dog in town.
Oakley McQueen Vanderhorst, or rather McWien (McWeen?), is a 10-month-old mini dachshund who takes his name after his inspiration, Disney’s Lightning McQueen. He will be competing in the 26th Annual Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals at Los Alamitos Race Course on Saturday, July 15.
Proceeds will go toward the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, which, according to the Los Alamitos website, is “a nonprofit group dedicated to finding homes for stray animals in the Orange County area. Since 1996, the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals has helped raise around $300,000 for the Care Center through selected ticket sales and T-shirt sales.”
Competing among 100 contestants, Oakley is the only contender representing Santa Clarita, but he is determined to make his city proud. The race will entail ten 50-yard trial heats, and each winning wiener from the 10 races will go on to compete in the championship. (See rules from 2019.) First place will win $900, second place will win $500 and third to seventh places will win $100, respectively.
Proud paw-rents, Rylee and Coleman Vanderhorst, have been training Oakley for nearly a month and a half. Adopting him in January, they have always known not only how fast, but also how special of a dog he is. Looking for a race to showcase his talents, Coleman’s adamant search landed him in Saturday’s race.
“Now that we have a wiener dog, we were wondering how we could meet other wiener dog parents.”
Submission included a creative writing piece, and within 24 hours, the Vanderhorst family had been notified that their precious Oakley would be competing.
Training their puppy not only meant teaching him basic tricks, but also professional coaching. Coleman eagerly built Oakley a racing box replica, and he was instantly a pro. Almost.
“He picked it up pretty fast. As soon as we put him in a box, and I started walking away from him, he started crying. As soon as we opened [it], he ran right to me,” Coleman said. “He’s definitely a daddy’s boy, so it’s easier to put [Coleman] at the other end where he can see him because he’s a good target,” Rylee said.
Aware of potential distractions, such as other wiener dogs during the race, Coleman is amazed with Oakley’s progress.
“I’m most proud of how quick he picks up on tricks. He learns really quickly, and listens pretty well. If we were to [let him off his leash], we have a callback word, which is ‘cannoli.’”
Rylee discussed the overall experience and how it has been a great opportunity for the Vanderhorsts.
“It’s been a fun experience. It’s brought us closer together as a little family. We’ve bonded a lot.”
While Oakley did not have a statement, he will continue to do press leading up to his big day. It is evident that he will utilize his energy to make Santa Clarita proud.
“Stay tuned, and support Oakley. He is the only wiener dog representing Santa Clarita, so I think it’d be awesome to have him bring the trophy home. It’s also a good cause to [raise] awareness to fundraise for all the puppies who need to find good homes.”
Those who would like to support Oakley can follow his Instagram.