The 2016 Rio Olympics are providing the perfect opportunity for New York Rangers center Derek Stepan to reflect on his Olympic experience, which introduced him to one of his best friends: Jake, a rescued dog from Sochi, Russia.
While Stepan was playing for the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, teammate David Backes found a stray dog. After some serious thought, Stepan decided to adopt Jake.
A little more than two years later, Stepan is as close to Jake as he is to his Rangers teammates.
"Jake had a high level of anxiety when we first brought him to New York, and it still takes some adjustments when he is getting to know people," Stepan told People magazine. "But now, people say Jake is a great dog, and he has allowed himself to not be scared."
Stepan was among several American athletes to bring home stray dogs from Sochi. Originally, Jake was brought to the U.S. so he could find his forever home, but Stepan and his wife fell in love with Jake and decided to keep him.
"A lot of people thought we were crazy to do it," Stepan said. "He's spoiled. His favorite thing to do is play with other dogs; he is high energy and loves to wrestle, wrestle, wrestle."