Misty May-Treanor Hits the Beach with Her Boxer

Olympic gold medalist and dog lover Misty May-Treanor gives us the inside scoop on the four-legged friends in her life.

By | Posted: August 8, 2012, 3 p.m. EDT

Misty May Treanor and Boxer GrudenMisty May-Treanor and her Boxer

When Misty May-Treanor and teammate Kerri Walsh won back-to-back gold medals in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics without losing a single set, they became legends in the Olympic sport of beach volleyball.

Since her last Olympics win, the Southern California girl has written a book; appeared on TV shows, including Dancing with the Stars; and is now back in training with Walsh, her eye on another gold medal.

But when she gets home after a long, hard day of practice in Long Beach, Calif., what May-Treanor most anticipates is time with her Boxer, Gruden, named because of his funny facial expressions, which were a trademark of former pro football coach Jon Gruden.

"He’s such a clever dog,” May-Treanor says. "He understands us. He listens. We treat him like he’s a person, and no matter what he does, he gives us that look, with his cute smushed face, so we can’t get mad at him.

"I keep telling my husband (Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player Matt Treanor) that he’s human, and he says ‘No, no, no,’ but when we gave him edamame, and he carefully ate the peas and spit out the pod, Matt decided maybe I was right. Sometimes we wonder what else he knows.”

May-Treanor comes from a family of athletes and dog lovers. "When I was young, we lived in an apartment where we weren’t supposed to have dogs,” she says. That all changed when May-Treanor’s mother, Barbara May, a nationally ranked tennis player, found a little Lhasa Apso-terrier mix. "We named him Noodles, and we had to hide him, but we ended up keeping him,” May-Treanor recalls. "He was my play pal. I took him for walks, dressed him up, and he rode in the car with my dad (Butch May, a member of the 1968 U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team) when he would pick me up at school.”

After the family moved to a house with a yard in Orange County, Calif., May-Treanor’s parents brought home a Shetland Sheepdog mix named Sandy to keep Noodles company. "At one point, we had six dogs,” May-Treanor says. "We would find them and take them in. We were that kind of family. I’ve loved dogs ever since.”

When May-Treanor and her husband bought their first house in Long Beach, they got a Boxer named Boogie. Not long after, Gruden joined the pack. The two Boxers liked to go running with Treanor while he rode his bicycle, battle over which dog got to return the ball during a game of fetch, chase waves on the beach, or swim in the Treanors’ pool, wearing their Scooby-Doo life vests.

Having active dogs inspired May-Treanor to team up with Purina as a spokesperson for its campaign against pet obesity. "I show people how to exercise with their dogs and what kinds of things I do with my dogs,” she says. "It’s exciting for me because I’ve always wanted to work with dogs.”

Boogie recently passed away from a heart condition. Although Gruden is a senior at age 11, May-Treanor still considers him her baby. "If I walk up and down the stairs to put things away 30 times, he’s right by my side every time,” she says. That’s just fine with May-Treanor. "Dogs make you forget how bad a day you are having,” she adds. "A dog is someone you can nurture and take care of. You give them love and respect, and they give it back. A dog is just like a friend.”


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