There's much said about an Olympic athlete's support team, but it's usually trainers, coaches and parents who get the credit. But behind many good athletes are great dogs, who inspire and motivate their humans to perform super human feats on the field, the mat or in the pool. Here are five of our favorites:
Michael Phelps: Michael Phelps is never satisfied with just one of anything. That's why he has 16 Olympic medals (14 of them gold) -- and two dogs, Herman and Stella. Phelps and Stella were drawn to one another under circumstances unique to celebrities: when both were guests on the Today show. Phelps came into the studios to discuss his training regime, but was smitten with the shelter pup (then named Penelope) who was appearing on the show's "Bow to Wow" segment. The two went for a walk and the rest is history. However, Phelps' mom Debbie assured her son's fans that Stella, a Catahoula mix, gets along great with Michael's bulldog Herman.
CHECK IT OUT: Watch video of Phelps and his dog
Abby Wambach: Abby Wambach isn't the only member of her family with an exceptional athletic talent. Wambach might be a star on the soccer field, but her English bulldog Kingston is a whiz on a skateboard. Even though Kingston has been praised for his special hobby, Wambach admitted that he might be more interested in chewing his skateboard than actually riding it.
CHECK IT OUT: Video of Abby discussing Kingston
Ryan Lochte: It's been widely reported that Lochte and Michael Phelps have bonded over their shared love of rap music, but if dog names are any indication -- Ryan is the bigger hip hop enthusiast. He named his Doberman Carter after Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. -- more commonly known as Lil’ Wayne. He frequently talks about his pal on Twitter, with sweet tweets like, “Carter decided to sleep under the covers between my legs . . . He miSses daddy.”
Jordyn Wieber: It's not surprising that this 16-year-old gymnastics star would need a dog who can match her energy level. Even though both Jordyn and her half Shih Tzu, half Yorkie mix Lucy are constantly on the move, Jordyn is known for her stoic demeanor, while the athlete describes her pup as "crazy." Wieber admitted, "She has a crazy personality. You’ll always catch her running around our house. She loves going for walks and she’s just a really hyper dog."
Gabby Douglas: Picking up and moving from Virginia to Iowa might have been great for Gabby's gymnastics career -- but the upheaval has left her dog-less. The U.S. team's other 16-year-old phenom has a little Maltese/Yorkshire mix and a giant Rottweiler/Labrador that she had to leave behind in order to train, and she's been unsuccessful in persuading her host family to adopt. It's not for a lack of trying though! “I’m trying to convince (my Iowa family) to get a dog," Gabby said. "They’re like, ‘We don’t need anything more to take care of.’ I’m like, ‘Come ooonnnn.’” Even though Gabby's gymnastics career is just taking off now -- she already has a fallback career that will never keep her far from animals. "I always wanted to be a vet when I was younger, because I love the animals, and just helping animals and strays," she revealed.
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