Brianna Decker Says Her Dog Helped Her Through the Pandemic: 'She Was Great to Be Around'

The U.S. Women's Hockey team's alternate captain Brianna Decker tells PEOPLE her dog, Missy, helped her "get through" the pandemic and the changes it brought to her sport

Brianna Decker Instagram
Photo: Brianna Decker/Instagram

Brianna Decker credits her furry friend with helping her manage the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Decker, 30, who is the alternate captain of the U.S. Women's Hockey team, tells PEOPLE in an interview last year that she found comfort in her dog, Missy, as her competition schedule was affected and altered.

Decker, who is set to compete in the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month, says she found a few "highlights" throughout the pandemic, including the purchase of her first home in Wisconsin and the adoption of Missy.

"I bought a house, and I bought a dog, as well," she tells PEOPLE. "So I had a couple of things that were highlights that maybe I wouldn't have done if I didn't have the time to do and figure out those things."

Decker says Missy, adopted in May 2020, was especially helpful during the first summer of the pandemic.

"She really helped me get through it," Decker says, explaining that she was in Calgary, Canada, when she first adopted her pet. "I wasn't living at home and I bought her. I got her in May and then we had all summer, so she was great to be around and have."

Decker says Missy offered a welcome distraction, telling PEOPLE, "I took her on walks. She took that mental side and cushioned it a little bit more. And I was like, 'Okay, I got my training to do,' but then the rest of the day is hanging out with the dog."

Decker first revealed Missy in a May 2020 Instagram post, writing at the time, "I can confidently say I found my new best friend! I think we will make quite the pair!"

Since then, she's shared plenty of Missy photos and videos on social media, including a recent clip of her dog enjoying a special treat. Decker has also created an Instagram account just for Missy, where she posts photos of her pet under the handle @missydeedog.

Brianna Decker
Brianna Decker. Sam Wasson/Getty

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The hockey pro acknowledges that "the pandemic could be looked at as a negative thing" because COVID-19 has "affected people's lives," but explains to PEOPLE that she's "tried to make the best of it in certain situations."

"Sometimes it's super tough, but in other ways, it made my life a little bit simple, and sometimes simple is good," she says.

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, beginning Feb 3, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.

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