I ❤ My Pet: Winter Olympian Jessie Diggins' Dog Leo Dishes on Preparing His Mom for the Big Event
Diggins will be competing as a cross country skier on Team USA, with Leo cheering her on from home
Hey there! I’m Leo, and I’m Jessie Diggins’ training partner! I live in Afton, Minnesota, with Jessie’s family. She’s been pretty busy racing World Cups all over Europe and getting ready to compete in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games as cross-country skier for Team USA, so I’m going to step in here and ghost write this one for her. I’m always doing little things like this to help her stay focused on skiing, stay happy and less stressed overall! I guess you could say I’m the reason she stays so relaxed and happy in between training sessions, but I like to be kind of a modest, quiet guy, so I’ll let you decide for yourself.
I’ve just turned 1 year old, so I’m still learning a few things about how to take Jessie running with me. She’s a lot slower than I am for starters! And since I’m a French Brittany, I keep pointing out all the birds, squirrels and deer in the woods, so Jessie won’t miss them. She’s catching on, though. I help her appreciate all the little things. And I’m learning how to run slow enough for her since she likes to run for hours and hours at a time! We do loops around the Afton state park so that every 45 minutes or so I can take a drink in the river or lay down in the stream to cool off. I know she keeps a Milk-Bone treat for me in her pocket, so we both fuel up halfway through our run (although Jessie eats something much more boring, some sort of energy bar, I think).
Jessie always says I’m the best motivation to get out the door. Especially in the spring, when she’s had her four weeks off from training to let her body recover and has to start getting in shape again. It’s hard to get out the door when your body is sore and you have to go run for a few hours! I’m pretty great at getting her in gear by prancing around the living room, bringing up her running shoes for her and just making sure she knows how excited I am to get going.
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Jessie isn’t stingy with handing out Milk-Bone treats after training, so those are a pretty great reward for all the yoga coaching I do for Jessie. She’s still not as flexible as me, but she’ll get there one day. See, I don’t only make sure Jessie gets out the door when she’s training at home … I’m also her No. 1 stretching partner! I make her laugh, I lean on her and jump into her lap every time she sits down on the floor, and I lick her face every chance I get, just so she knows how much I love her. I don’t know how to tell if she’s had a good day or a bad day, so I always greet her the same way, and I know I make her very happy!
I get up at 5 a.m. every weekend to log in to the computer with Jessie’s parents to watch her race. We stream the races live and I’m a pretty awesome cheerleader. I don’t always understand the race tactics, but I know Jessie doesn’t care about that. She’s just happy to see photos of me. I think it’s because I’m so handsome. Did I mention I’m modest too?
I really miss Jessie when she’s gone, but she calls home at least once a week. After a few weeks I learned to recognize the sound of the video call, and now I come running on the first ring. She always laughs when I jump up with my paws on the counter and try to slurp the computer screen. I still don’t quite understand why I can’t give her smooches through the computer, but she’s happy, so my job is done.
Jessie Diggins is partnering with Milk-Bone throughout the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games to celebrate the unsung heroes who inspire Team USA athletes, like her dog, Leo. You can share your own dogs’ supportive and inspirational stories by using #DogsInspireMore on your social channels.