Pet Blog Olympic Pet Parent Interview

We continue our conversation with Tony Azevedo, four-time Olympian and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance pet parent to Apollo. The first half of our conversation can be seen here.

1. We’re sure your Olympic medals hold a place in your heart, but what makes having a dog special?

Having a dog is the greatest joy. For me, the companionship and friendship we form with animals is an invaluable part of life. Seeing the love that my pets have for me makes me a more humble and an all-around better person. 

2. You’ve had Apollo for a number of years, what has he done that has made you laugh the hardest?

Sometimes when we are sitting out on our back porch, Apollo will come over and try to sit in my lap. Watching him try to maneuver his giant body into a tiny chair with me is absolutely hilarious. I think he’s a lap dog at heart. 

3. You’re entering your fourth Olympic Games. What are you looking forward to the most in London?

We are a really strong team this year and I look forward for the chance to compete at the highest level and hopefully bring back the gold. 

4. What attracted you to the sport of water polo?

I love the action and the physicality—it’s an exciting game. But it’s also a game of smarts, and I have always been attracted to the tactics and the technique that the best players develop and showcase. 

5. And, finally, if Apollo were an Olympian, what would his event be?

Maybe sailing because since we are such a water-oriented family he loves being near the water, but not necessarily in it. 


Are you on Twitter? Join us in cheering on Mr. Azevedo and the rest of the U.S. men's water polo team by  tweeting your support to @WaterPoloTony!

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pet parents

Tony Azevedo with his American Mastiff Apollo

Tony Azevedo, four-time Olympian and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance pet parent to Apollo, spoke to us about his furry companion and his life as an Olympian.

Mr. Azevedo is a member of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team and the team’s current captain. Born in Brazil and raised in Long Beach, Calif., he will be competing in this summer’s Olympic Games in London.  

1. Please tell us about Apollo. What kind of dog is he?

He’s an American Mastiff.

2. How did you and your family come to adopt Apollo?

My mom found him at the local animal shelter when he was a puppy. He had been thrown out of a car window into a park.  The people who had abandoned him tried to come back to the shelter to reclaim him because they realized they could have sold him.  But my mom was already interested in adopting him and the shelter helped her win custody.

3. How did you decide on Apollo’s name?

Our other dog (who recently passed away) was named Olympia because we got her the year that I participated in my first Olympic Games (Sydney, 2000).  When we got Apollo four years later, we decided to continue with the Olympic theme and named him after the Greek god.

4. Does Apollo ever get in the pool with you?

Not the pool, but he has played with me the in ocean.  Olympia used to be obsessed with the water and swimming so we would take both of them to the beach to play.  Apollo would get in and enjoy the water but only where his feet touched the bottom.  If he got pushed out farther, he would panic.

5. The Mastiff is sometimes considered a layabout breed, how does that mesh with the active life of an Olympian?

Apollo is actually a very active dog.  He loves going for walks and runs or playing ball out in our front yard.  He is always ready for any activity that we have planned.

6. Does he help you train for the Olympics?    
When I’m at home I love to take him for runs, which serve as good cross-training since I’m always in the water.


Be sure to keep an eye on the U.S. Men's Water Polo Team as they go for the gold and visit us next week to learn more about Mr. Azevedo, Apollo, and more! To see part two of the interview, click here!

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pet parents

Here are a few pictures of Millie:

I’m always looking for fun new games to play with my cat, Millie. So when I read about the Muffin Tin Game for felines on one of my favorite blogs, Pet Connection, I knew I had to try it with her!

Here’s how the game works:

1. Select a muffin tin from your cupboard.

2. Place your cat’s favorite treat in each compartment.

3. Cover each hole with a fun toy.

4. Place the muffin tin on the floor and watch your kitty explore!

The verdict? Millie loved it and had fun finding her treats. While she needed a little encouragement in the beginning, it didn’t take long before she was batting toys out of the holes by herself and gobbling up her treats!

The Muffin Tin Game is easily adaptable for dogs as well! Instead of placing a toy over each compartment, use a tennis ball. Learn how to play the Muffin Tin Game with your dogs.

Do you have a fun game that you play with your dog or cat? Tell us about it!

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Hartville Group News & Info


As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.