In Germany pugs are the stars winning medals (and hearts) on the racetrack

If Elvis has one advantage over his competitors, it is his long legs. Well, relatively long. His slightly extended snout and slender body also helps him swallow the 80-yard stretch of sandy track in just more than eight seconds.
“Sensational,” the timekeeper calls as Elvis pounds across the finish line and bounds into the arms of his 13-year-old owner, Emma Pollex, who has run ahead, shaking a small, zipped bag packed with treats.
Elvis is one of the star pugs at the Hamburg NWR dog track on the outskirts of the northern German port city.
He’s really fast,” says Emma, and likes to run, so much so that Elvis didn’t even need to train before going up against the 49 other competitors.
Along with Joschi, Campino and dozens of other curly-tailed pugs, Elvis is competing in what has become a regular effort in Germany to blow up the breed’s reputation as committed couch potatoes.
Sometimes, the reputation seemed justified. Campino needs a push just to get him past the starting line. Lulu stops midway for a sniff before dashing backward, then turning around and casually trotting across the finish, taking a leisurely 32 seconds.
“This isn’t a competitive race,” says Angelika Schmorr, Lulu’s owner. “We are all here just for the fun of it.”
In the country that gave the world the German shepherd and the doberman pinscher, short-legged, smashed-nosed pugs, called “Mops” in German, would seem out of place. But the animals have long been celebrated across this country for their loyalty and clown-like temperament, and as subversive symbols.
Introduced to Europe from China, pugs made their way to Saxony in eastern Germany in the 18th century, where they became the mascot of a group of excommunicated masons who called themselves The Order of the Pug.
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