Johnny Dodd
March 05, 2010 08:15 PM

It’s totally rad being Olympic snowboarding sensation Shaun White. But it’s even way more rad being Shaun White’s dog Rambo.

“He likes to sunbathe,” says White, peering underneath his table at an outdoor café in Los Angeles earlier this week. Stretched out beside his black sneakers is his snoring 2-year-old French bulldog, soaking up rays.

“He’s so mellow, it’s funny,” White adds, whipping out his iPhone and scrolling through a half dozen snapshots of Rambo like a proud parent. “Check out the sweater he was running at the Olympics …”

Rambo has good reason to be sacked out in the sun. Like his famous owner who is in the midst of a global media blitz since winning his gold medal in the half pipe, these past few weeks have been hectic times for the laidback hound. No sooner did Rambo catch his breath after returning home from Vancouver where he helped cheer … er, howl, his 23-year-old owner to victory, but now he’s road-tripping around Southern California, accompanying White as he travels from one photo-shoot to the next.

“He’s awesome,” laughs White. “We’ve been trying to take him with us everywhere.”

White’s older sister, Kari, 24, is equally smitten with the chill pooch. “He’s trained, but he’s not super obedient,” she tells PEOPLE. “When he was a puppy, he had a red hair just like Shaun, so we knew we had to get him. It was meant to be.”

When Kari spots her brother staring at the photo of a sweater-clad Rambo on his phone, she fishes the red, white and blue canine frock (above) out of her bag, hoists the dog onto her lap, then goes to work dressing him.

“Shaun’s team manager’s mom made the sweater, but I sewed the buttons on,” Kari adds. “I wanted to use silver, but we thought they’d jinx Shaun – so we used gold. We’re real superstitious about things like that.”

After he’s dressed, Kari hands Rambo to her brother, who shakes his head and cracks up. “I loved animals before I had him, but I never really cared as much about them until I had a dog,” White says, adjusting Rambo’s sweater. “We put a picture of him in sunglasses on one of the T-shirts my brother and I designed for Target and it was our second-best seller.”

As he shovels scrambled eggs into his mouth, White ponders the deeper meaning of it all. “It’s weird,” he says. “There are all these kids out there, running around with my dog on their T-shirt.”

Read more about Shaun White in the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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