Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy was reunited this week with the stray dogs he helped bring back from Sochi.
Kenworthy, with the help of Humane Society International and good friend Robin Macdonald, who stayed behind in Russia for nearly a month after the Olympics, brought the dogs home. Kenworthy and Macdonald spoke with Matt Lauer and Tamron Hall while snuggling three of the pooches — Jake, Mama and Mischka.
“It’s just incredible,” Kenworthy said. “It feels so nice to have them home. These dogs have traveled thousands of miles, and it’s been many, many weeks of this whole process kind of coming to an end.”
“I think that’s the best part for me,” he said. “We’ve had people come up to the both of us, and tell us that they’ve either donated to the Humane Society, or they went and adopted a dog here or whatever, so that’s awesome to see. I think that we’re really just kind of hoping to bring awareness to the plight of the dogs in Russia and hopefully set up some shelters and stuff there so that in future World Cups and different events, there will be a better system in place so that this doesn’t happen again, so that if someone does want to take a dog back, they can take a dog back and it’s not going to be a horrible process.”
Getting the dogs back to American was more difficult than he thought it would be. Along with the Humane Society, Kenworthy and Macdonald fought government roadblocks to get the dogs proper treatment before bringing them home. “A politician kind of claimed the dogs were theirs, and they didn’t want to release them to us for whatever reason. They were kind of kept away for me for the duration that I was there,” Kenworthy said in a TODAY show interview. Macdonald intended to stay an extra 2-3 days to help the dogs get proper treatment but ended up staying for almost a month.
“One of the stranger things about Sochi is that the dogs there are really friendly,” Macdonald said. “People feed them, people actually do take care of them, they’re just not bringing them into their home and treating them like a pet. Unlike many places that I’ve traveled to, it’s a different situation over there, so I think there’s more hope with the Humane Society International working with them.”
“They’re very sweet,” Kenworthy said. “They’re very comfortable around people. They’re very docile. They’re more than happy to be held and played with.”