AFM Selects Austin's Fittest Dogs

By AFM – March 1, 2012

4 years old
Male, Boykin Spaniel

Nash has been Will Hardeman’s companion for three years now. He enjoys going hunting, hiking, and paddle boarding. Nash also loves being with his family, and he’s very loyal and persistent. He has been trained to retrieve birds when he goes hunting with Hardeman. Nash has been on hikes ranging from the Barton Creek greenbelt to 12,000-foot peaks in Colorado. While Nash has not won any formal contests, he was the only dog to ride the entire 22 miles of the Dam That Cancer charity paddle board race on Lake Austin. Hardeman says that Nash may be slow, but he is relentless and has never given up on even the longest of treks.

9.5 years old
Male, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Mouse has been owned by Jennie Chen since he was just 8 weeks old, and now at almost 10 years old, he still acts like a young puppy. Jennie says that Mouse has never had a bad day in his life and that he loves people and kids. Mouse has competed in many obedience contests throughout the years with a lot of success, including being awarded in the top five performing Swissies in competitive obedience in 2010. He also gives rides in his sulky draft cart at events, where he carries up to 300 pounds. Despite Mouse’s size and strength, he is still more of a lover than a fighter. One time when an oatmeal cookie was thrown into the yard, Mouse tried to take it from a cat that was already eating it and lost the fight.

15 months old
Male, Chihuahua-Dachshund mix

Charlie is a 15 month old Chihuahua-Dachshund mix owned by Finn and Carolina Staber. They have had him since he was 8 weeks old. Charlie likes to go running, swimming, and kayaking with his owners. He is described as being smart, friendly, obedient, and really active. When he was only 8 months old, Charlie finished second in the Doggie Du Dash in the 20 pounds and under class. His speed and energy had Finn and Carolina wondering just how fast Charlie could run a mile, so they brought him to the track and timed him. Finn rode his bike around the track while Carolina held the stopwatch, and Charlie kept up with Finn the entire time, finishing the mile in 4:12. It’s not just Charlie’s dedication to fitness that makes him such a special dog, he also eats healthy foods. He loves to eat fruits and vegetables, and his favorites are watermelon, carrots, and bananas.

3 Years old
Female, Yellow Labrador Retriever

Riley was given to Sarah Richardson as a Christmas gift when Riley was only 6 weeks old. Riley likes to go running, swimming, and anything involving a tennis ball. She is being trained for bird hunting and gets taken on hunting trips by John, Sarah’s fiancé. Riley is described as loyal, well-behaved, and very fast. In fact, she is currently the reigning “Fastest Dog in Austin” title holder from the Austin Dog Fair at Brentwood Park, where she beat about 80 other dogs. Riley was integral in helping Sarah meet John, and she will be serving in their wedding in March as both the ring bearer and the flower girl.

4 years old
Male, Giant Schnauzer

Kim Gregory received Frank as a gift when she was in remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and she says he was the best gift she has ever received. Frank was only 8 weeks old at the time and about the size of his head; now he weighs 100 pounds. Kim wanted a dog that she could run with and take everywhere, and that is exactly what Frank does. He likes to run, play Frisbee, and fetch the tennis ball. Kim says that Frank is a lot like Scooby Doo the way he’s a silly dog that does goofy things but he’s also a smart dog who learns quickly. She entered Frank into a dog show when he was just a puppy in 2008, and he finished with an award for Best in Breed and was the runner-up for Best in Show. The best memories Kim has of Frank are how he stayed by her side when she was on her journey to recovery. He’s her best friend, and they plan to run the Doggie Du Dash together in May.

1.5 years old
Male, Miniature Red Poodle

Joe and Heather Stan bought Dexter in November of 2010, the same year their daughter Madeleine was diagnosed with cancer. They got Dexter for her as a birthday present, and the two instantly became sidekicks. Dexter would pull Madeleine around in a wheelchair before she passed away in late September at 9 years old. Joe and Heather say that Dexter is like Max, the dog from “The Grinch,” but he’s also an extension of Madeleine in the way he is sweet, kind, and playful. Dexter likes to go on three-mile runs about five days a week and play with his dog buddies at Cedar Bark Dog Park. He participates in CureSearch Pediatric Cancer walks and will soon receive his certification as a Pet Therapy Dog for Dell Children’s Hospital.

3.5 years old
Female, Beagle

When Samna Chheng bought Mo as a 9 month old puppy, the four-pound Beagle almost didn’t make it. She had severe malnutrition complicated by pneumonia and looked like a skeleton compared to the rest of the puppies. After a month of medication and a new diet, Mo got better and much chubbier. In fact, Mo got up to 34 pounds and transformed from a skeleton to an overweight pooch. Samna says that Mo’s favorite activities used to be competitive eating and sleeping marathons, but now she enjoys swimming and kayaking. Mo is great at learning new tricks. She can beg, play dead, rollover, high five, act shy, and give kisses. Samna describes how easily Mo makes her laugh, likening her to a mix between Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres raised by Snoopy and Woodstock.

2 years old
Male, Great Dane

It took Ben Lasseter about a year to find the right dog, but he found one when he got Rooster from a breeder/rescuer when he was 8 weeks old. Rooster is very people-oriented and loves to socialize. He gets antsy when Ben is not around, but when he is, Rooster never leaves his side. He loves to hike at the Barton Creek Greenbelt and run alongside Ben while he mountain bikes. He also likes to swim and play with other dogs at Auditorium Shores. One of Rooster’s most impressive skills is that he can hike while carrying a 50-pound backpack all day.

About 6 years old
Male, Mix (possibly Lab, boxer/pit-bull/Catahoula mix)

Kona and Red Tripp found each other when Red was training for the 2009 Austin Marathon. A collarless Kona saw Red running during mile six of her 13-mile run and ran with her all the way home. Red describes Kona as fun, sweet, and “the most expensive free dog.” Kona likes to go running on the trail and is known to get “cabin fever” if he doesn’t run three-to-five times a week. Despite Red’s placement in the many 5Ks they have run together, Kona has almost always finished “First Dog” in the race. Kona tore his ACL during an early morning run last year but he is now back to running his three-to-five miles every week.

3 years old
Female, Blue Lacy

Genny Hardeman got Charlie when she was just a puppy from a ranch in Fredericksburg. Not only is she one of the fittest dogs in Austin, but she’s also one of the happiest. Charlie is loving to all humans and will greet you with a big smile on her face when she sees you. Genny says that Charlie is a loyal dog but sometimes can be too protective when other dogs come into her territory. Charlie loves to run around the neighborhood, fetch tennis balls in Lake Austin, and hike up the mountains of Colorado. Aside from being able to fetch, Charlie has the unique ability to open doors to let herself in. Charlie can also herd other animals. One time when she and Genny were at their ranch, Charlie hopped a fence full of exotic animals and started to run around and direct the animals around the area. She then leaped the fence and jumped back into the bed of a truck with the tailgate still closed.

6 years old
Female, German Short Haired Pointer

Stella was bought by RuthAnn Lobos and Dean Caramanidis when she was one year old from a breeder in Kansas. She likes running, fetching, and pointing at birds and squirrels. Stella is not an only child. She has two brothers, Drake, a chocolate Lab, and D’Artagnan, a French bulldog. She’s described by her owners as “ready to run”, but she is also good at curling up in her favorite chair and relaxing when she’s exhausted. She’s a very accomplished dog, too, with her first place finish in the Snoopy Division at the Doggie Du in 2011 and finishing “First Canine” in the Thundercloud Turkey Trot in both 2010 and 2011. One of Stella’s favorite things to do is play a game with D’Artagnan where she points out a squirrel and he goes and flushes it out.


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