Matt Antoine stumbled into a dog shelter in Phoenix on the Monday after the Fourth of July in 2015.
He saw dozens of dogs, but one stole his heart: a 5-year-old golden retriever named Dixie. He filled out the paperwork and brought her home that day.
“It was a bit of luck for me to get her,” Antoine said. “I think it was meant to be.”
The 2014 Olympic skeleton bronze medalist had recently moved to the city after living at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for five years.
He had been battling situational depression, and felt “trapped” in the bubble of the Olympic Training Center. He even considered walking away from skeleton. But his outlook improved when he moved to Phoenix.
“I really began to enjoy life again,” Antoine said, “and ultimately I could enjoy the sport again.”
Dixie has become a major part of Antoine’s routine in his new home. He wakes up around 8 a.m. and walks Dixie before making a double shot of espresso. He takes her to the park before dinner, and on a late-night stroll before bed.
“I so like having her around and being able to take her to the park,” Antoine said. “It brought a little normalcy to my life.”
Dixie has learned to stay out of the way while Antoine works on his ambitious home improvement projects.
“It’s been rewarding to turn the ugly house on the block into one of the nicer ones,” Antoine said.
When Antoine competes on the international World Cup circuit, Dixie stays with Antoine’s mother, Mary, in Wisconsin. It looks like Dixie has adjusted to living in the Phoenix heat in the summer and the Wisconsin snow in the winter:
Antoine even runs an Instagram account, missdixiedog, for his pet.
“She’s my best friend,” Antoine said. “I couldn’t imagine not having her there each day.”