Sausage dogs and their owners took to the streets of Krakow this week for the 23rd annual Marsz Jamników (March of the Dachshunds). The first dachshund parade took place in 1973, but it was soon banned by the Communist authorities who thought it was somehow anti-establishment. It wasn’t until 1994, after the fall of Communism in Poland, that the event as we know it was reintroduced.
Organised by a local radio festival with the support of the Krakow Festival Office, the fancy dress theme this year was royalty. This saw dachshunds dressed as kings, princesses, dragons, and even the odd minion, parade from the Barbican to the Main Square – behind a brass band, no less.
Hundreds gathered along the route to cheer on the little dogs, with some spectators having travelled from as far away as the United States. Chantelle, a 26-year-old from Berlin, was effusive about the event. “I heard about the march from a friend, who is a dachshund lover, but I didn’t think it would be such a spectacle. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who likes dogs. And Krakow is quite pretty too.”
Once the dogs and their human escorts arrived at the stage and “dogwalk” in the Main Square, it was time to crown the winner. The five finalists, Sacz, Iris, Bobi, Dino, and Emi had to demonstrate a certain set of royal qualities to the panel of judges. This took the form of three phases: a “distinctive walk”, an “elegant sit” and “noble temperament”. Deserving as all the dogs were, in the end there could only be one winner. This year, the coveted crown went to 17-month-old Bobi from Krakow, who so impressed the judges with his kingly nature.
Of course, as well as providing unprecedented levels of cuteness, the March of the Dachshunds was also an opportunity to talk about issues relating to abandoned dogs, their adoption and animal abuse. Stalls around the stage offered everything from behavioural advice to pet pampering, and there was a dog food collection point to support nearby animal shelters.
Words: Tess Harold