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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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!

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