February 19, 2010 04:20 PM

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis has channeled his passion for the pool into his four beloved pooches: Jack Russell terriers Nipper and Dobby, border collie Gryff and Hungarian Pumi puppy Hedwig (yes, Louganis is a major Harry Potter fan!).

“My dogs are really my family,” says Louganis, 50, who trains the dogs (or “the kids,” as he calls them) and travels the country with them for agility competitions.

The joy Louganis gets from the pups has helped him stay healthy after being diagnosed with HIV more than 20 years ago, says his doctor, Tony Mills: “The dogs are an amazing support system for him, and the training gave him a whole new lease on life.”

Next up: Louganis is working to launch the Positively Pet Fund, which will provide basic care – grooming, veterinary services, food – for pets of people living with HIV and AIDS. “A lot of people are having to decide whether they’re going to buy their dogs food or buy their meds,” he says. “We want to take that out of the equation so that they can really think about being healthy.”

For more on Louganis – including his struggles with addiction, his loving relationship and his amazing physical health – check out the issue of PEOPLE on stands now.

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