Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Parade of the Daschunds

The following is a true story which has not been embellished in any way and no I am not high:

This morning we attended an important function in Krakow society, described in one British guidebook as "the barmiest event in the city": The Annual Parade of the Daschunds.

Somehow' and no knows how, it got started that every September Daschunds would parade down the famous "Royal Way" of Krakow, known as the "Route of the Kings" accompanied by a fabulous brass band.

Today hundreds and hundreds of people come from across Poland and now Europe to parade their Daschund.

The participants gather in the famous Barbican fortress at the beginning of the Royal Way; anxious Krakovians line the route, cameras in hand waiting for the march to begin! The brass band handsomely outfitted in formal wine uniforms starts the proceedings playing a splendid fanfare Polish March. Children dance. Standing in front walking backwards are TV cameras and photographers covering the march. Then come the Daschunds!!!

There are hundreds and hundreds of them parading down the cobblestone street while the crowds jostle and push to get photos. People bend down to street level as getting a good sausage dog photo involves getting down to their level. This is very painful for me, in light of my black and blue bruised knees, caused by having tripped running to the bathroom on a tour in Romania run by a time Nazi, who wouldn't let us stay in any one castle room for more than a minute before we were summarily forced to walk on.

Many of the weiner dogs are dressed in elaborate costumes (they will later be judged in a contest) and people strain to get a photo of the most unique. They are all there: a bride and groom; a Bavarian mountain climber with flag; Queen Elizabeth I; a knight royale of Poland with little helmet, armour, sword and shield; the Pharoh himself with attendants and, I thought quite brilliantly Michael Jackson in a handsewn glitter jacket, with hat ala his "Smooth Criminal" days, white socks and yes, the one sequined paw glove.

Once the sausage dogs have completed the route it is into the great medieval square of Krakow to the stage where Polish TV, Radio and Movie stars, and some little blond girl who I'm not sure what she's doing there, wait to judge the dog costumes.

The entire event is covered top to bottom by media crowding the giant stage. Each dog is paraded on the platform and introduced. I go behind to get the backstage action in this most tense of events. The stars are shining brightly tonight and no more so than in the Krakow square!

This is not to say the contestants are all good natured. Being front runners for the prestigious awards to be won, a number are quite the little (and I mean little) prima donnas. Back biting abounds and I mean that literally not figuretively. Also back sniffing. A little sausage dog dressed as a Polish Policeman complete with tiny, hand sewn police hat is barking his face off at his fellow nominees. I guess getting into the part. The knight dog is more good natured and only barks when his tiny metal helmet slips down and covers his eyes. His barking alerts his owner who pushes it back up.

In the end the judges retire for 20 minutes to confer and the winners are announced: The skunk Daschund wins! The Polish Policeman wins! But the winner of the coveted "Best Prize" goes to Pharoh Daschund who with full King Tut headgear and necklace, is carried on a litter born by two attendants dressed as Old Kingdom Egyptian. I thought the hooka pipe on the litter was a nice touch.

But in such contests for every winner there must be a loser and so, there are also hopes dashed and dreams destroyed. The owner of the Michael Jackson Daschund is inconsolable, near tears and tearing off his little costume, including so sadly, the little white sequined paw glove from his tiny foot. She must wait another year and maybe then, maybe then, it will be Michael's turn to shine.

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