The Daily Gamecock

Columbia dachshund lovers meet regularly for 'weenie walk'

A group of dachshunds and their owners crowd around steps in Columbia, SC during a dog walk in July.
A group of dachshunds and their owners crowd around steps in Columbia, SC during a dog walk in July.

The Dachsunds of Columbia is a group whose members love their wiener dogs so much that it organizes meet-ups to connect with other pups in the city. 

The group puts on social events like happy hours, wag night at Columbia Fireflies and dog walks. At these events, attendees get to socialize through their furry friends. The main event, however, is the monthly dog walk from USC's Horseshoe to the Statehouse. Every walk is on one Saturday of the month starting at 10 a.m. 

Anna Vanduzer created the organization in July this year to bring together owners of this iconic small dog breed.  

"I am really obsessed with dachshunds, it's just the breed that I have always thought is so cute and they just melt my heart and are so sweet. They are just a unique breed and they are very loyal," Vanduzer said.

Vanduzer is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but moved to Columbia in 2014 — the same year she brought home her first dachshund, an old, little brown dog named Duke. 

"I really wanted a dachshund," Vanduzer said. "I found one at Palmetto Lifeline, and he has been my inspiration ever since. I am still so obsessed with him." 

The inspiration for the group came when she found a dog walking group during her wedding in Charleston. She'd travel there to walk her dachshund with the group until a recurring back injury flared up that prevented her from making the trip regularly.

Vanduzer's separation from the event gave her an idea, though. It was time to create a dachshunds group in Columbia, she said. 

Her husband, Will Vanduzer, has been her biggest supporter in the creation of Dachshunds of Columbia. He has helped through recruiting, planning and even driving to events. 

"He's never had a dachshund in his life," Vanduzer said. "But he's just very obsessed. He's a great dog dad," Vanduzer said. 

Marisol Clark, a member of the Dachshunds of Columbia, also supported Vanduzer in starting the group. Clark and Vanduzer connected over their dachshunds and have been friends ever since. 

"It is very nice to have a community of people who are like-minded like me and love their dachshund too," Clark said.

Marisol's dachshund is Percy, named after Percy Jackson, a fictional teen character in a popular children's book series. Clark said the group is fun because everyone benefits — including her dog. 

"He gets to socialize with other dachshunds that I otherwise wouldn't have the chance to do. I feel like it benefits the both of us, he gets a little exercise and we both get to do something together," Clark said.

When setting up these walks, Vanduzer makes sure to cater to the small canines. 

"I have to keep in mind the length of the walk for the weiner dogs. They can't walk super far and when it's hot, you just have to be careful with them," Vanduzer said. 

She said that's why she chose the short and shady route of walking from the Horseshoe to the Statehouse for the group. After the route, the group fills Soda City with the cute dogs.

People are always thankful — especially since some of their weiner dogs have social issues. Dachshunds are considered to be the most social breed of dogs. This group gives dogs with social issues a chance to come out of their shell. Dogs need friends too, of course. 

According to Vanduzer, Dachshunds of Columbia not only benefits the walkers, but the community too.

"It gives me a ton of fulfillment that not just people in the group are so excited about it, but when we are walking and people stop and see us they think it is the cutest thing ever," Vanduzer said. "It just makes me really happy that people are all so obsessed with it that aren't even in the group." 

Amelia Rice, a second-year student at Midlands Tech, is one of the few college students within the Dachshunds of Columbia. Amelia's dachshund is Poppy, a cream-colored, long-haired dachshund. 

Amelia has been bringing Poppy to these walks since July.

"Now I have something to do with Poppy besides just taking her on a random walk," Rice said. "She can go out and have fun and play with other dogs." 

Many of the members of the group are most looking forward to the Hallo-weenie — a walk held the first or second Saturday of the month, but the Hallo-weenie walk will be closer to Halloween. Everyone who joins the walk is expected to dress up with their dachshund.

Rice expects more USC students to come out to the next Weenie Walk. 

"It's just really fun because it brings you together with people who have the same interests as you. So other weenie dog lovers, and you all get to play with each other and have fun and it's a big play date," Rice said.