A crowd of 850 Chihuahua-race aficionados cheered as 244 Chihuahuas sprinted down a 35-foot track in San Bruno on May 12, Mother's Day weekend. With hot dogs, sausages and squeaky toys dangling from their owners' hands at the far end of the track, the tiny dogs took off in a sprint.
It was the regional race of the PETCO Unleashed 2007 National Chihuahua Race, which was searching for the fastest Chihuahua. The winner of the San Bruno event will compete for the championship title in San Diego on Sept. 2.
Stifle that laugh, Chihuahua owners say. The world's smallest dog breed can pack on the power. Chihuahuas are said to travel up to 7 miles per hour for short distances, according to PETCO. The San Bruno race winner, Clara Belle, finished with a time of 2.61 seconds.
Palo Alto has its own winner. Chloe, a 2-year-old chocolate Chihuahua-pug mix owned by Katrina and Mel Soledad, placed second in the regional event.
One meeting with Chloe, and it's clear why. She's a natural-born racer, demonstrating her prowess at full-bore across an open field at Menlo Park's Burgess Park one recent afternoon. Chloe has been clocked running 35 feet in 2 seconds, according to her owners, Mel and Katrina Soledad. During practice runs prior to the race she beat out Clara Belle, Mel said.
She didn't really show her stuff at the official race; she became bewildered by the starting gate. Chloe was still trying to negotiate it while the other dogs were already half-way down the track, Mel said.
No matter. Chloe still kicked tail.
"We didn't know the tricks of the trade," Katrina said. "The winning dog's owners were dangling hot dogs and toys at the end of the track. Next year, we'll be prepared."
Chloe, Mel and Katrina met with the Weekly for an interview at Burgess Park.
Weekly: What made you decide to enter Chloe in the contest?
Katrina: I saw the race for the World's Fastest Chihuahua on the Oprah show. We knew that Chloe was a fast runner, but we never thought she'd win in her first competition ever. We heard about this competition two days prior to the race.
Weekly: What did Chloe win?
Katrina: A year's supply of Royal Canin Premium Chihuahua Dog Food and a PETCO gift card.
Weekly: What's Chloe's favorite pastime?
Katrina: We take her on the hiking trail at Bayfront Park (in Menlo Park). She loves to run. It has a huge hiking trail with lots of squirrels, ducks and rabbits running around. She likes checking all of them out. She loves sprinting! Whether it's up hill or not, she can sprint 150 to 200 feet in a flash. She never gets tired. Her favorite thing is sprinting. In any small space she sprints in circles.
Chloe: Ar! Ar! Ar! Ar!
Weekly: Does she wear funny outfits?
Katrina: She wears a pink, turtle-neck sweater, and I let her wear my Burberry scarf during the winter season.
Weekly: Is she an alpha dog or beta dog? Top dog?
Katrina: I think she's a beta. Mel is her alpha male. Sometimes she walks ahead of us when we go hiking.
Mel: She is very protective of Trina.
Katrina: And she doesn't really care how big you are. She will fight for me.
Weekly: What attracts you to Chihuahuas?
Katrina: Mel and I have always dreamt of having a dog that looks like a Labrador retriever puppy but will never grow as big as a retriever. We felt that our dream pup was really impossible -- until the day we saw Chloe in the pound. We couldn't believe our eyes. She was the perfect match to our dream pooch. She was the only pooch we visited who came near us and let us pet her with our fingers. We knew that Chloe was the one for us.
Weekly: Does Chloe have any siblings?
Mel: She has a brother. We adopted Chloe from the Tri-City Animal Shelter in Fremont last May 2006. She and her brother (a tan-colored one) were rescued. They were runaways. When we got her, her paws were rock-hard.
Katrina: When we had our first meet and greet with Chloe at the animal shelter, the officer warned us that Chloe was a jumper, licker and "escape artist."
Weekly: Does Chloe have a favorite food?
Katrina: Anything hard. Rawhide, toasted wheat bread. She loves vanilla ice cream.
Weekly: Favorite toy?
Katrina: Her neon-green alien dinosaur squeaky toy.
Weekly: Got a boyfriend?
Katrina: It's more on a platonic thing going. Her best friend's name is Throy, a 3-year-old Papillon/Chihuahua mix. Throy is Mel's mom's pooch.
Weekly: What's Chloe like at home?
Katrina: She sleeps with me at night. (Mel works at night at Classic Residences by Hyatt.) I embrace her, and we sleep through the night in that position. During the day, she sleeps with Mel. ... When Chloe's in a deep sleep, she either does a one time big time loud bark or she'll bark in a soft way in sets of 3 woofs with a consistent beat. She loves sleeping in between me and Mel, with her back on the bed, her head on the pillows, under the sheets, exactly the way we humans sleep.
Weekly: What's in her future?
Katrina: We're saving to have a church wedding next year. (They had a courthouse wedding.) We want to have her in the entourage.