Seven months after silver medalist Gus Kenworthy first fell in love with a mother dog and her four puppies at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the two puppies who survived are doing just awesome.
“They both gained a lot of weight,” Kenworthy, 22, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “They’re super healthy. Their coats are really soft. Their eyes are clear. Their breath smells good.”
Mishka is 52 lbs. and Jake is 48 lbs. – and that’s a full transformation from the malnourished pups who first came to the United States in March. (See what they look like today below!) They live with him in Denver.
It’s a happy ending to an otherwise challenging journey home.
One dog died before he was allowed to leave Sochi and another, Rosa, whom Kenworthy had wanted to keep, died in New York City.
“It was horrible,” says Kenworthy, a freestyle skier. And it left him worried about the surviving pups. “I was just constantly taking them to the vet because every little thing was making me nervous,” he says.
Mishka is his dog and Jake belongs to Macdonald, who lives in Vancouver, he says.
“Robin lives with me half the time when he’s in the States, so I’ve been keeping them both,” he says.
Now, he says, “They’re just so attached to each other.”
‘Total cuddle bugs’
In the meantime, he’s having a blast with the pups.
“They love swimming,” he says. “We go down to the river, or we walk to the park. They like to chase the ducks in the water so they swim after them.”
“If I go to eat, I eat on the patio so they can come,” he says.
They even sleep with him.
“I really need to wash my duvet now because it’s covered with hair,” he laughed. “They’re total cuddle bugs.”
As they’ve grown, his queen-sized bed is getting a little snug, he admits.
“It’s going to have to be upgraded because between the two of them and me – it’s a lot,” he says. “If they roll over, they hog the blankets, and it’s hard for me to move them. So they kind of take over. It’s really like I’m sleeping on their bed.”
Having the dogs around, he says, has made him more of a homebody.
“I’ve never been a big party animal going out all the time,” he says, “but I’ve found since I’ve had them I go out way less than I would because I don’t want to leave them behind. I miss them if I go to dinner.”
Keeping it in the family
So what about the mother dog?
She ended up with the Olympian’s mother, Pip Kenworthy, and stepfather in Telluride, Colorado, the athlete’s hometown. They named her Mamuchka.
“When he was phoning me from Russia and telling me about them, I was saying, ‘I want one. I want one,’ ” Pip, 60, tells PEOPLE.
Today she’s up 10 lbs. – weighing 40 lbs. – and is doing great, she says.
“She’s really fit looking,” she says. “When we walk her, everybody says, ‘What a beautiful dog.’ ”
As for Kenworthy, he can barely remember life before Jake and Mishka.
“They’ve added a ton of joy,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of fun together. They’re amazing.”
Kenworthy will unveil a journal he kept of the puppies’ progress – along with photos along the way – on Freshpet Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET.