AFM’s 2018 FITTEST DOGS

By AFM Staff – April 1, 2018
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

Haus

Pitbull Shar Pei Mix, 5

Five years ago, David Gallaher was working a construction site in Houston when he spotted a homeless puppy that was covered in mange and hanging around dumpsters, scavenging for any scraps he could find. The owners of the property called Animal Control to pick the dog up, but David scooped him up that night and brought him back to Austin with the intent of dropping him off at Austin Pets Alive! 

However, David and the pup bonded almost immediately, and the rest is history. Haus was diagnosed with Generalized Demodex Mange and a secondary staph infection which took three months of treatment to eradicate. He is David’s training partner and loves running. Since David is a competitive obstacle course racer, they log many hours training and running together. Haus motivates David to keep moving and to get the most out of training sessions. He also soaks up all the attention he can get at Brodie Park CrossFit, where David works, and is known as Coach Haus. 

Nama

Chinese Shar Pei, 7

Katy Gassaway is a yoga teacher and owner of the studio Body and Shine Wellness, so she named her pup Nama so that she could say “Nama, stay!” all day long. After losing his companion two years ago, Nama became less active without someone to romp around with and chase. Plus, his mom spoiled him even more with treats and people food after the loss of her other fur baby. Katy was shocked to take Nama to the vet and realize he gained over 10 pounds in six months—and he had already been on the heavy side. Determined to get back in shape, Nama began his weight loss journey by walking a mile and a half every day. He then joined agility classes at K9 Workingmind and really came to life! He was a natural at the weave poles, quickly mastered the see-saw, and even managed to conquer his biggest fear, the tunnel. Now, Nama is back down to the weight of his younger days! He's a body-positive pup who knows you can still be fuller figured and keep up with the rest of the pack.  

Chuck

Goldendoodle, 2

Chuck, a two-year-old Goldendoodle and his owner, Dr. Kim Davis, run every type of race—from 5Ks to adventure races. Chuck logs about 50 miles per week, and he and Kim recently posted their first 19:00 5K during a rainy December race! He also loves mountain biking, paddling, swimming, and trekking around in the woods. Kim owns company RunLab Austin, a facility that helps patients with running technique and gait evaluation, and Chuck always accompanies her to the clinic. He is great with patient interaction and giving them some extra love—especially the children. Chuck is also a dependable travel companion and happily joins Kim in car or on a plane to get to their next race! 

In Kim’s words, Chuck is the “running buddy that never complains during long runs, short runs, rainy runs, snowy runs, windy runs, or 4 a.m. gotta-get-a-run-in-before-I-sit-on-an-airplane runs. He never gets mad at me for wanting to walk during a run or wanting to run during a walk. Sometimes he pulls me and sometimes I pull him, but that's just what friends do.” 

Skyy

Dobermann, 7

This month, Aaron Gonzales is embarking on the first solo and unsupported paddle boarding trip across the entire coast of Texas (400–450 miles). All proceeds will go to Patriot Paws, an organization that helps train service dogs for veterans. His beloved dog, Skyy, is the perfect partner for sharing love and adventures.

Skyy has traveled all over the U.S. with Aaron. Last year, they traveled 25,000 miles together, including to 15 national parks and 24 national forests! When in town, Skyy is always down for hikes and paddle-boarding with Aaron. Their favorite times, though, are spent around a campfire after a day of exploration and travel. 

More Dogs on the Next Page >>

 

OAKLEY

Boxer, 3

Oakley has always been a runner. She was found running the streets of Austin as a stray before being brought into the Austin Animal Shelter. When Nicole Gartside adopted her from the shelter, running helped her cope with transitioning to a new home. Being home alone or confined in a crate gave her intense anxiety—often resulting in the destruction of things around her—and running with Nicole each day was the one thing that always left her happy, calm, and out of trouble while Nicole was away from the house. Oakley and Nicole started off with running three miles or so, but soon enough, Oakley was helping Nicole train for half and full marathons—never missing a step. 

Nicole always knew Oakley needed her daily runs, but it wasn't until this summer that Nicole realized she needed Oakley's companionship on runs just as much. After losing a family member to traumatic incident, Nicole found herself suffering from trauma-related symptoms. As a runner, hitting the trail before sunrise was the best way to cope with the trauma, but she'd been left with an unfortunate side effect: she was terrified of the dark. However, Oakley became Nicole’s protector on runs and, thanks to Oakley’s companionship and protection, Nicole continued running and overcame a difficult time in her life. 

HUNTER

Belgian Malinois, 4 

Hunter started his career as an explosives detection dog in Afghanistan. When his contract term ended, he was set to be euthanized even though he was still young and healthy. Luckily, Scott Rhoads from the Austin Police Department bomb squad heard about Hunter. He was donated to APD and is currently working with Scott as a bomb dog for the Central Texas area. Hunter takes the job seriously, but is a part of the family when he’s off duty. 

“He lives to work; he lives for finding that explosive odor. His reward for finding it is his Kong ball,” Scott says. 

Layla

Leongerger, 13

Layla is one of the oldest living Leonbergers on record, thanks to her fit lifestyle and healthy diet. Her owner, Claire, is very proud of her and continues to support Layla's lifestyle with walks, cuddles, interactive games, and exciting Austin adventures. If they keep it up, Layla likely has many happy years to come!                       

Kalvin & Hobbs

Charcoal Lab, 3; Beagle, 2

Kalvin and Hobbs are inseparable, so it only seemed right to include the fit duo together. Kalvin is a 3-year-old charcoal lab that thinks he’s a human, and Hobbs is a Beagle who—despite her shorter legs—has no problem keeping up with Kalvin at the park. When they’re not running around Zilker with their owner, Jack Conner, you can find them cliff diving at Bull Creek or at a pool parties, where Kalvin loves to show off his swimming skills. He dives up to 10 feet underwater while Hobbs swims in circles until he comes back up. 

Preston Carter Davis

Dachshund, 4

Leg day? Oh, Preston definitely never forgets leg day. He is a two-time, reigning champion of the Buda Wiener Dog festival, competing against over 250 other lowriders. 

He is as fast as he is long. Don't let his short legs trick you—a loop around Lady Bird Lake for him is just a warm-up. He regularly goes on four to five mile laps with his owner, Sam Davis, while carrying a stick or his favorite tennis ball in his mouth. He loves to hike the Greenbelt with sporadic swim breaks. When he’s recovering from his long runs and hikes, you can find him snuggling underneath the covers at home. On cheat day, Sam gets him Puppuccinos from Starbucks (an espresso-shot cup filled with whipped cream).

 

 
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