After Saturday's charity wiener dog race at The Joe, my miniature dachshund named Charlie joined a list of elite athletes. We're talking about Hall of Famers and repeat All-Stars — who haven't won a championship.
Elgin Baylor, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley are among the NBA's best who never won titles.
The 1987-88 San Francisco 49ers, led by Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, lost in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
Luke Donald, a star on the PGA Tour who held the No. 1 world ranking for over a year, has never won a major championship.
Charlie's first heat went according to plan. There were 14 heats with five dachshunds racing in each. From there, the winners advanced in a bracket to determine the champion.
When his heat began, a neighbor racer crossed in front of Charlie to the other side of the race track, which confused the four other vertically challenged pooches. But, Charlie soon caught my eye — I was waiting at the finish line and my girlfriend released him at the starting gate — and sprinted toward me and a couple of his favorite toys.
The track was 25 yards long and my little guy completed it with a first place time of 9.7 seconds. The second place dog finished nearly 20 seconds behind Charlie's herculean effort. Heck of a Charleston RiverDogs debut, right, A-Rod?
While the other heats were being completed, Charlie signed autographs, did a few media interviews, shook hands, kissed babies and contemplated a political career. When the second round of racing finally came around, he was justifiably worn out.
Charlie came in third place, and his road to the championship ended. He was distracted by a lovely looking long-haired dachshund and ran behind her the whole way, desperately trying to get her attention and forgetting the task at hand. My lil' buddy appeared to be smitten by her long locks. I never thought I'd have to give the birds and the bees talk to my fixed friend.
On the road home, I thought of how we should discuss the race. Should I give a pep talk full of squeaky toys and rawhides? Should I blame the owner of the long-haired dachshund who obviously sabotaged Charlie by spraying enticing doggie perfume on his new love interest? Should I ground him for a month from getting behind-the-ear scratches? Or are sprints the way to cope with the early exit?
He fell asleep dreaming of trophies and biscuits before I could make a decision. When he woke up at home, he had a bowl of food and a few treats ready for him to pack on a few extra ounces.
But, don't worry, the weekend of gorging is over and Charlie is back to a lean, not-mean-at-all physique. The next highlighted date on the calendar: a wiener dog race in my hometown of Wilmington, N.C. in a couple months.
After some epic feedback from my race preview column last week guaranteeing a victory, including a phone call from a gentleman who fondly said, “I don't follow you; I follow Charlie,” I think Charleston needs to rally behind the pooch named after the city.
A few ideas immediately come to mind: the RiverDogs could rename themselves for the remainder of the season to become the RiverCharlies, the pineapple fountain downtown could undergo renovations to have a statue of Charlie's face placed on top of the pineapple, and the USS Yorktown could hire my beloved Chuck to be a full-time mascot. All reasonable suggestions, for sure.
A parade could and should be thrown by the City of Charleston as Charlie travels to Wilmington for the wiener dog race. Hey, mayor Riley, my email address is at the top of the story. Shoot me a message when you figure out how you want to proceed. On our way out of town, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile would be our official escort.
Remember that movie “Taken” with Liam Neeson, in which his daughter is abducted? As his daughter is being kidnapped, Liam, known as “Bryan” in the movie, says on the phone to the kidnapper: “I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But, what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
Wilmington wiener dog racers, pick up the phone. Here's my slightly modified warning: “I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for a trophy, I can tell you we don't have one yet. But, what we do have are a very particular set of skills; skills Charlie has acquired over a not-so-intensive month of training. Skills that make him a nightmare for fellow stumpy-legged racers like you. If you stay home on race day, that'll be the end of it. Charlie will not look for you; he will not pursue you. But if you don't, Charlie will look for you, he will find you, and he will run faster than you.”
Or, he might just get distracted again and continue his legacy of being a title-less elite racer. So, there's that.
To view a photo gallery of the race, click here.