Wiener Run all-star keeps running


August 18, 2018

Cindy Johnson.

Rango runs toward the finish line during the Wiener Nationals.

When he's not winning races, he's playing with his favorite toys -- squeaky ones. And playing, by his request, means ripping the squeakers out of them.

Rango, named after Johnny Depp's chameleon character in the movie with the same name, is a four-time champion of the Wiener Run during Tehachapi's All-American 4th of July Hot Dog Festival. This year, with changes to the fourth celebrations, the wiener dog race didn't happen. But Rango's mom and dad found him a new venue. On July 5, he won first place at the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals at the Santa Clara County Fair in San Jose, Calif.

"Rango was born August 1, 2012 in Acton, Calif. I got him when he was about 10 weeks old. I got him as a birthday present to myself – best present ever," said Cindy Johnson.

Rango began racing at 9 months old. His mom and dad had seen television clips of wiener dog races and thought it looked like fun. Given Rango's energy and focus on a given task, they had a hunch he'd do well. The Wiener National races at the Old World German Village in Huntington Beach, Calif. was his first test.

"We started racing there with Rango and our other dachshund, Stetson. We soon realized that Stetson, while being slow and steady, Rango was the one that had the speed," Cindy said.

Training, Cindy said, came easy. With her husband Jim Pickerell at the starting box and Cindy at the finish line with a piece of chicken or hot dog, how could Rango refuse?

"He runs without the treat, but the treat gives him a little more incentive," Cindy said. "We raced for about a year before he started winning consistently."

Rango now has more than 50 trophies in his trophy case.

Cindy Johnson.

On July 5, Rango won the $500 grand prize at the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals at the Santa Clara County Fair in in San Jose, Calif.

"He loves to run at the races and gets very excited when he figures out where we are going," Cindy said. "Once he gets there, he is all business. While most of the other dachshunds are yapping and barking, Rango is calm and collected, but then darts out of the starting box. If he's not in the lead, he looks over at the competition and then pours on the speed to pull ahead!"

When he's not at the races, Rango likes the community feel of a dog park and can often be seen roaming the isles of Home Depot and Tractor Supply Co.

Rango's next race is Aug. 19 at his familiar running grounds, Old World German Village in Huntington Beach.

"We love our little Rango and are so proud of him," Cindy said. "We never thought that something we thought might be fun for all of us to do, would turn into a passion."


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