Spring is in the air here in Terlingua. Buzzards have been sighted as they return from their winter in Mexico and the mesquite trees are leafing out, and like most places, we have our treasured springtime rituals. One of ours involves chihuahuas, a race track, and a fashion show. Yesterday was the Terlingua Desert Chihuahuan Challenge Dog Race, an annual event held to raise funds for The Crisis Center of The Big Bend. In a nod to inclusivity, and in an attempt to get more participants, there is a Mestizo category for those Heinz 57 mutts unable to produce pedigree papers, but there may be some question as to the actual pedigree purity of almost any of the entrants. This year the day was bright and warm as the crowds jockeyed for the best viewing position along the track and cheered on their favorites. Prior to the crack of the starting pistol, many of the racers strutted their stuff in the costume contest, and everything from a tutu to a Taco Dog on display. The favorite was dressed as Pancho Villa and sported a quite fashionable sombrero, but once the races started, the costumes came off and things got serious. Racing always holds the possibility of a contentious decision, and this year was no exception, as a stray pup ran onto the track during the first heat. Interference was called, and hotly debated, before the complainant finally conceded – his dog got stage fright and hid in the starting box – never put paw one on the track. Even the piece of bacon held by his owner at the finish line couldn’t tempt him out. The handler finally pulled his pup from the starting box and slowly walked away in defeat. Meanwhile, the more competitive canines raced valiantly, lured toward the finish line by the calls of their handlers – and by the smell of bacon. The athletes will now retire to their homes for some well deserved couch time before beginning to train and plot strategy for next year’s race on the 2nd Saturday in March. It’s an event not to be missed, so mark your calendars, make your reservations, and start training your pup. We’ll see you here next year.