More “Fittest Dogs”—Workout Warriors

By Leah Fisher Nyfeler – April 10, 2014
Photo by AB Sutton

Austin loves dogs and AFM saw a record number of “Fittest Dog” submissions this year. Among them were a group of dogs that stood out because of their presence in the community. These pets spent quality time in the gym or at workouts, encouraging others and accompanying their fitness-focused owners, activities that gave them a distinct “leg up” in being active.

Molly Mae, vizsla/Weimaraner mix

Leann Rominger, owner

Molly Mae was selected as one of the “Fittest Dogs” but was unable to attend the photo shoot for our print magazine coverage.  Why? She was away at retrieval training camp in Troy, Texas, where she’s working to earn her Master Field Trial title until mid May. It’s a natural extension of the 1-year-old vizsla/Weimaraner mix loves of dove hunting, skeet, and chasing birds and squirrels.

Molly Mae is a fixture at Dane’s Body Shop, where her owner Leann Rominger works as general manager. She regularly runs with the 5 a.m. group and greets folks during the day as they come in and out for workouts. She also participates in community boot camps at Pease Park and has recently taken up wake surfing. You’ll also find Mollie Mae on the Barton Creek greenbelt most weekends getting some trail runs in.


Trudy, mutt

Rebekah and Tyler Dutton, owners

When Trudy was rescued from Town Lake Animal Shelter almost five years ago, she was thin, malnourished, and scared. Now, she’s living the good life. She gets to go to work with Rebekah Dutton who is the director of human resources at Patient Conversation Media, Inc.  She, Dutton, and a group from the office (the “fit club”) attend daily workouts at Hyde Park Gym, where the 5-year-old mixed breed often greets clients at the door. Trudy, a regular at the 6 a.m. class,, has become the official mascot at Kor 180 where Dutton teaches cycling and Pilates.

Dug, golden retriever mix

Allison and Chris Stoos, owners

As a puppy, Dug broke his leg and that’s how the Stoos came to adopt him. Under their loving care, Dug healed well and became a runner. He’s completed the Doggie Du (2012) and helped his owner train for the Austin Marathon as well as cheered him on from the sidelines. He’s also a helpful assistant at Dane’s Body Shop, where Chris is a coach. Unfortunately, there’s no pool at Dane’s, otherwise Dug would surely be in it—he prefers swimming to just about any activity.


Gretel, schnauzer

Barbara Fellman, owner

The running community knows Gretel. She’s a familiar fixture at Lady Bird Lake, where she accompanies owner Barbara Fellman on the 10-mile loop. She regularly attends workouts with Al’s Ship of Fools on Tuesday (track) and Thursday (hills) nights. Coach Al Cummings has nicknamed Gretel “Menace”—when she gets excited during drills, he often yells out, “Way to coach, Menace!” On Wednesday nights, Gretel often joins the 3-mile social run from Luke’s Locker. Even though she’s 7 years old, this outgoing dog can hold a sub 8-minute mile pace on her long runs, though she accommodates Fellman’s pace and enjoys stopping for a sniff or two.

In addition to running, Gretel goes along with Fellman to an impressive list of classes: yoga (Luke’s Locker), evening core classes at Jack & Adam’s Bicycles, CrossFit Central workouts, Relentless Boot Camp sessions, and sessions with Bootzen (a combo of boot camp, Pilates, and yoga). And if you’ve been at the AFM FITTEST competition and attended AFM launch parties, you’ve probably met Gretel.


Keiko, Siberian husky

Dave Braswell, owner

How many fitness stars can say they got their lucky break in a convenience store? That’s where David Braswell found Keiko as a dirty, hungry stray. He took him home and, after a fruitless search for an owner, adopted the dog. When the vet told him that Keiko was about 20 pounds underweight, Braswell put him on a raw meat diet with egg yolk and tuna fish oil. After a month, Keiko was up to a normal weight, with lean muscle and plenty of energy.

Keiko enjoys being out in the open and finding his exercise in natural areas such as the Barton Springs greenbelt, Enchanted Rock, and the Onion Creek Park. Braswell, owner of Outright Fitness, regularly puts Keiko through his paces; the dog loves to pull heavy things, swim, and outrun his owner (no small feat) in sprints and over long runs.


Ellie, golden retriever

Ari Witkin, owner

Ellie, a 7-year-old golden retriever, is helping owner Ari Witkin get ready for Ironman Boulder this year by accompanying her on runs three or four times a week. In addition to that training, Ellie “helps” Witkin with her home yoga studio business; she may interrupt savasana with wet kisses and stretch along with the class.

Adopted from a rescue group in 2007, Ellie has found fun in this fit lifestyle. She is most fond of swimming and can often be found at Auditorium Shores, Red Bud Isle, and at the Barton Creek greenbelt taking a dip in the water.


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