The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil officially kick off tonight with the Opening Ceremony. We’re excited to watch all the Olympians compete for gold, and to get to know more about the amazing athletes and their sports.

Many Olympians are also animal lovers, and gain inspriation and support from their loyal, loving pets during all those grueling hours of training. Here are eight such Olympians and their adorable pets!

Aly Raisman adopted this puppy! ❤️ #RoadToRio Click link in bio for more pics!

A photo posted by NBC Olympics (@nbcolympics) on

Aly Raisman, Gymnastics – Gibson the Maltipoo

Joining Team USA’s women gymnastics team for the second Olympics in a row, Aly Raisman is one of the most high profile US Olympians at the 2016 games in Rio. As such, the two-time gold medalist and team captain was asked to participate in an NBC promo shoot with her fellow Olympians last December in Hollywood. Also at the shoot? Puppies!

Raisman fell in love with one puppy in particular, a fluffy Maltipoo (Maltese-Poodle mix) named Gibson. Raisman and her family had recently lost their dog Coco, and this shelter dog reminded her and her mother Lynn of their beloved pooch. The Raisman family adopted Gibson, and soon after brought him home to Needham, MA.

Gibson and the family’s other dog, Magic the Maltese, frequently appear on Raisman’s Instagram, and the gymnast regularly FaceTimes with her two beloved pups while on the road. These two little fluffyballs will definitely be rooting for their best bud to win gold again in Rio!    


Amy Cragg, Track and Field – Gabby the English Bulldog

When you think “marathoner,” what dog breed comes to your mind first? Greyhound? Border Collie? Whippet? The last breed that probably comes to mind is the English Bulldog. Stout, short-legged and notoriously lazy, the Bulldog does not make an ideal long-distance runner partner. But for the US team’s top female marathoner, opposites attract.

Cragg and her husband, former Olympic long distance runner Alistair Cragg, are proud pet parents of Gabby, a sassy young English Bulldog. Gabby sometimes joins her mom and dad on their adventures (as chronicled on Amy’s Instagram), but her best role might be as #1 relaxation buddy for his Olympian mom. After all, what’s more relaxing than having a happy pup snoring beside you?


Brenda Martinez, Track and Field – Rainy, Bolt, Chase & Peanut the Rescue Dogs and Boots the Rescue Cat

Brenda Martinez is an Olympian who gives back. She runs an annual summer cross country running camp for girls in Big Bear Lake, CA, where she lives and trains. Brenda and her husband and coach Carlos Handler also share their home with four rescue dogs (all small terrier mixes) and one tabby cat named Boots.

Brenda credits her pets with helping her stay focused and positive. At the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, OR last month, she failed to qualify for the 800m after her feet became tangled with another runner’s. She credits her dogs (who came with her to the trials) with helping her overcome the disappointment and bounce back to finish 3rd in the 1500m, earning a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Great work, pups, and good luck in Rio, Brenda!    


My new favorite past time #snuggling #addison A photo posted by Donn Cabral (@donncabral) on

Donn Cabral, Track and Field – Addison the Guinea Pig

Fans of small animals will love this Olympian! Donn Cabral competes in the Steeplechase, a track and field event described as “3,000-meter obstacle race with four barriers, or hurdles, and a water pit.” While training near his home in Glastonbury, CT, Donn spotted some baby guinea pigs abandoned by the side of the road. He came back to the spot after his run, helped some fellow rescuers, and ended up taking home one of the babies.

He named his guinea pig Addison, after the name of the trail that he was running. Addison’s not much of a runner, but she is happy to hang out on the couch with Donn in between workouts. Guinea pigs are known for their adorable squeaks, and we bet Addison will be squeaking extra loudly when her Dad is racing in Rio!


Michael Phelps, Swimming – Juno the Frenchie

It just doesn’t feel like a Summer Olympics without 18-time gold medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps, right? Competing in his fourth Olympics, Michael will be carrying the Team USA flag at the Opening Ceremony tonight. This Olympics, however, he’ll have a new fan cheering him on at home – his 3 month-old son Boomer.

Boomer’s not the only little Phelps fan, however. Phelps and his fiance Nicole Johnson also share their home with two adorable French bulldogs, Juno and Legend. Four year-old Juno, the older sister of the bunch, even has her own Instagram! According to her Instagram, Juno loves the water just like her famous dad. Unlike Dad, however, Juno needs a lifejacket.  


Wait… So you’re not supposed to bring your cat with you to hair and makeup…? #newstome A photo posted by Missy Franklin (@missyfranklin88) on

Missy Franklin, Swimming – Prince the Cat

Swimmer Missy Franklin took home four gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and is hoping to win even more this summer in Rio. Last Christmas, she welcomed home another little piece of gold – a golden (ok, orange) tabby kitten named Prince!

Prince loves his Olympian momma, and likes to be next to her, whether she’s resting between swims, working out, or getting her makeup done for a big event. He’s even been known to play with Missy’s swimming trophies. It makes sense – to a feisty cat, what is a gold medal but a giant string toy, right?


Serena and Venus Williams, Tennis – Chip the Yorkie and Harold the Havanese

Did you know that tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams are also huge animal lovers? The sisters (who each have four gold medals) share an affinity for adorable dogs that are small enough to fit inside their tennis bags.

Serena is mom to two dogs, Chip the Yorkie and Lauralei the Maltese. Venus’ dog Harold the Havenese is slight bigger than Serena’s dogs, but is still perfectly petite enough to be the perfect lap dog. These dog cousins might be a bit testy when their moms compete against each other in the women’s singles event, but luckily Venus and Serena will also compete together in the women’s doubles, restoring the family unity once more.

We wish these eight amazing athletes and all Olympians great success at the 2016 Olympic Games!

Featured Photos of Justin Gatlin and Missy Franklin © NBC Universal.