Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dog Peddle Gold Medal Swimmer Comes to St. Louis to Adopt a Pup

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dog Peddle Gold Medal Swimmer Comes to St. Louis to Adopt a Pup

Article excerpt

Between gigs with ESPN and Wheaties, U.S. swimmer Amy Van Dyken's "Revenge Of The Nerd" tour paused for puppy love in St. Louis on Monday.

Van Dyken, shunned and mocked as a gawky, asthmatic adolescent, was the Midas of the Atlanta Olympics, where she won four gold medals that earned her about $250,000 in prize money from the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming. She is the first U.S. woman - in any sport - to win four golds in one Olympics.

After dedicating her scintillating performance to the "the nerds out there . . . getting picked on all the time," Van Dyken said what she most wanted was time with her husband - and a puppy.

"I didn't realize what the response would be," Van Dyken, 23, said. Laughing, she added, "Next time I go out there, I'm going to say, `I want a Porsche.' "

Among the dozens of would-be benefactors was a 5-year-old girl, whose offer went thusly: " `Um, I have a puppy, and, um, I love her. But you can have her,' " Van Dyken recalled.

Van Dyken, of course, declined that offer but swooned over one that came from Ralston Purina, concocted either by alert execs or someone prompted by columnist Bernie Miklasz's hint in the July 27 Post-Dispatch - "Hello, Ralston Purina? I see a commercial here."

Enter "Georgia," an 11-week-old black Labrador retriever who was bedecked with a red, white and blue bandana and presented - along with a year's supply of Purina Puppy Chow - to Van Dyken at the Ralston Purina Tower on Monday afternoon.

"She's a lot like Mom; she's so stubborn," said Van Dyken, who embraced her adoptee with a furry flurry of hugs and kisses. "But she's so cute and so smart. She wants to learn. She gets so excited when she gets something right, wagging that tail."

Van Dyken, from Englewood, Colo., requested a black Lab because that breed had been the key to meeting her husband, Alan McDaniel, whose parents live in St. Louis. He had been a lifeguard at her pool, and she had been drawn to him but too shy to approach him until one day several puppies appeared near the pool. …

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