GRAYSLAKE, Ill. | Every day Alex Rothacker wakes up he is reaching for a record.
"I always have goals," says Rothacker. "If you have goals, you're never bored."
The 51-year-old Grayslake resident competes with weights, with his dog, and even with food. Either way, he goes all out.
"My favorite thing is world records. I like Guinness World Records, feats of strength records. Not for the fame and glory of it, just for the satisfaction of doing it," Rothacker says.
His own feats of strength records: a forearm curl with 156 pounds and a one-arm press of 248 pounds with a 7-foot bar. The amount of weight he can move is impressive.
"The feeling you get when you do something that nobody else in the world can do is a great feeling," he says.
Rothacker doesn't understand the word "failure." His system for training involves small increases over a long period of time.
"Every time I work out I've broken an old record," Rothacker says.
Armed with a bag of raw broccoli and a gallon of distilled water, Rothacker hits the gym every day with a record under his belt.
Rothacker's main job is as the owner of TOPS Kennels and Veterinary Rehab in Grayslake. The kennel services more than 80 police departments in training German shepherds to work with police officers.
"Your dogs have to perform because it's the officer's life. I apply what I learn with people to the dogs, and I apply what I learn with the dogs to the people."
The man who is known for police dog training at TOPS also has a "sweet" side. The love of his life, his dog Swee' Pea, has appeared in dozens of television shows.
"Swee' Pea is definitely my best friend. She's with me 24/7," he says. "In all the shows she has never let me down. She doesn't do it for herself, she does it for me."
Rothacker says Swee' Pea holds nine Guinness World Records, including walking up and down a flight of stairs backward with a glass of water balanced on her nose.
At 18 years old, Swee' Pea, a border collie, is practically a record herself.
"My dog has taken me all over the world for the last 15 years of her life and it's my job, not only as a dog owner but as a friend, to make her life as good as it can be for as long as it can be," Rothacker says.
Helping a dog reach that longevity doesn't come without a lot of time and effort keeping her fit. Sweet Pea is put through a regiment every day — including stretching and a stair workout — that would tire out most people.
Rothacker takes his passion for breaking records to the dinner table as well. He recently tackled a four-pound burger at Bulldogs in Grayslake in 19 minutes. The mammoth burger came with cheese, 12 slices of bacon and one pound of chili-cheese fries.
"I've always liked eating a big abundance of food," he says. "It's a fun thing to see if you can do it."