Despite furry dust ups here and there, the athlete says her brood is a “big, happy family”

August 13, 2010 07:49 PM

For Olympic gold medalist and former Dancing with the Stars champion, Shawn Johnson, 18, age is just a number when it comes to raising a family – a furry family, that is! Johnson is the matriarch of a household of cats and dogs. With two pooches – a golden retriever named Tucker and a lhasa apso-maltese named Joey, as well as two cats, Max and Verne – Johnson has her hands full.

So do the siblings get along? Not quite. Tucker, the eldest of the four and Johnson’s favorite, has a mellow personality that does not jibe with baby of the family, Joey, and her “loud and bubbly” spirit. “Tucker is lazy, big, and precious. He is my snuggle buddy,” Johnson told at a Got Milk? event in New York City earlier this week.

And what about felines Max and Verne? Older, wiser, and more patient with Joey than Tucker, Johnson admires her “mysterious and quiet, but very loyal” cats, both of whom are often the victims of dog Joey’s energetic playfulness. “Joey is always beating them up, trying to show off,” says Johnson.

While Johnson’s busy schedule reluctantly keeps her apart from her pets for days, even weeks at a time, her parents are the ideal babysitters for the brood. Despite the bickering among them, “It’s so hard to leave them,” she says. “We’re a big, happy family. ”

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