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Rio-bound Johnson-Thompson to check pets into Sausage Dog Hotel

Katarina Johnson-Thompson will be among the heptathlon medal contenders in Rio later this year. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Olympic heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson will be relying on help from an unusual source when she goes for gold in Rio later this year.

The Briton is a devoted owner to pet dachshunds Chorizo and Bronx, who are usually looked after by her mum or boyfriend when she is away competing at events.

But with Johnson-Thompson a genuine contender for gold in Rio, her usual dog-sitters will be trackside in Brazil to cheer her on. The 23-year-old has had to find a temporary summer home for her beloved pets and has picked The Sausage Dog Hotel.

"My Mum looks after them usually or my boyfriend [BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ Nick Bright] when my Mum comes to watch me compete," Johnson-Thompson told ESPN. "But in Rio my boyfriend is coming too, so I had to find back up.

"Luckily, I found a place called the The Sausage Dog Hotel. It's not kennels, it's like their home. They've got a massive great garden and take them for great big walks.

"The dogs are going to have a short stay beforehand to see if they like it or not. We've been for a day visit already to settle in. It's not like it's anywhere near me in Liverpool. I had to drive them down to Luton and back. But I just want to know they're happy."

The Sausage Dog Hotel, which bills itself as the "premier choice" for those needing a "home away from home" for their pets, is around 170 miles away from the area Johnson-Thompson lives in.

It promises long walks on the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire border, 24-hour dog supervision, and regular meet-ups with other Dachshund groups.

Owner Phil Curtis said he cares for each "sausage" individually; he looks after 10-15 animals at a time on average and owners are kept up-to-date with the latest news on them via social media.

"Some people think it's a hotel for people as well, or some sort of attraction where you can come and stay with the dogs," Curtis said. "That would be great but not very practical!

"We have some owners who like to do Skype calls, but time differences can make that tricky. The main things are pictures and videos on social media, and I'll send some to clients privately."

Johnson-Thompson will be among the challengers to British rival Jessica Ennis-Hill's Olympic heptathlon title in Rio, looking to set the record straight after her meltdown at last year's World Championships.

The Briton was in second place after the first day of events but recorded three fouls in the long-jump to finish 28th overall. However, she has a new fan backing her medal hopes in Brazil this summer.

"I didn't know who she was because I don't really follow athletics," Curtis said. "She probably thought that was quite refreshing. I asked her where she was going on holiday and she said 'Rio'. Then I started to put it together and I'm very much looking forward to following her now.

"I've got a few ideas of things to do with her dogs while they're here. I've got some agility stuff, so I might try and get them to do some little jumps and things to go along with the heptathlon.

"It will be nice to feel connected with something like that, even if it's in a small way. If she comes back to pick them up carrying a gold medal, that'll be fantastic."