Rethinking Pet Insurance

toby and me

Toby helps me write a blog post

Two weeks ago our golden retriever Toby tore ligaments in both of his back knees. Toby had been favoring his right back paw for about a week and was due for X-rays. When he tried to hop in the back seat of our car to go cool off in the Battenkill, he missed the jump and tore the ligament in his other knee, leaving him hobbling gamely and painfully on both his back paws. 

Our veterinarian, whom we like a great deal, explained that Toby’s injuries were in part genetic. X-rays showed that the ligament in his right knee had been fraying slowly over time. The left knee blew out when he missed his leap into the back seat. Unless we wanted Toby to be limping badly for the rest of his life (he’ll be seven years old this fall) the only reasonable plan was to get surgery. 

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Three Conventional Choices for Canine Cancer Treatment

Orvis Cover Dog Contest - Tazz & Mica

Throughout the years, dogs have benefitted from improvements in veterinary care. More are living longer as a consequence of improved nutrition, better vaccination protocols, and evolving standards of care in both general and specialty practices. If there is a downside to living longer, it is that more dogs live to so-called “cancer ages,” late middle age to geriatric. If a dog reaches ten years of age, it has a 50-50 chance of developing cancer. How can a rational treatment plan be developed?

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“Toto”: A Famous Dog, More Famous than We Realize

toto 2

Terry in her most memorable role as Toto, with Judy Garland

We all know and love this purebred Cairn Terrier in her role as Toto, but Terry (her real name) had many other roles before and after her mixing it up with a conman wizard, a witch with a fear of water, a dancing scarecrow, and a gang of lollipop kids.

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Top 10 Dog Books for Summer Reading

If you are reading this post, you are very likely a dog lover, and a book lover as well, looking for a good read about one of your favorite subjects. Well,  Louise, a bookseller at an independent book store near our Orvis home offices put together a list of top ten dog books for summer reading for a great site

The list includes classic favorites and fantastic new books, ranging from humorous, to nostalgic, heartbreaking, and informative.

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4 Facts about Chemotherapy Help You Make Good Dog Care Choices

Orvis Cover Dog Contest - Sophie & Chloe

The word “chemotherapy” comes loaded with emotional baggage, and this itself is often a barrier for dog owners as they face decisions about treating their pets with cancer. Almost everyone has heard some bad stories about canine chemotherapy. As always, a bit of understanding and frank discussion about what’s really going on are helpful. These four facts about chemotherapy should help pet owners to understand what their veterinarian is proposing and, therefore, allow owners a more certain basis for important decision-making.

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Are Hypoallergenic Dogs a Myth?

Orvis Cover Dog Contest - Casey

Hypoallergenic dogs. Fact? Or Marketing?

New York Times blog post  today calls into question the idea of hypoallergenic dogs. According to studies that the blog references:

…there may be no such thing as a low-allergy or allergy-free dog, according to a new report. The study found that the quantities of dog allergens in homes with supposedly hypoallergenic breeds are no different from those in homes with dogs widely considered non-hypoallergenic.

Do you have a hypoallergenic dog to prevent allergic reactions to it. If so, have your allergies stopped entirely or do they persist? What do you think? Hypoallergenic dogs, fact or myth? Share your experiences with us.

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Murph Training, Part XVIII: Water, Water Everywhere

murph leaps

Murph makes the leap

photo by Tim Bronson

Now that the heat of summer is upon us, I’ve transferred some of Murph’s simple retrieve drills on land to the water. As one might expect, there is no shortage of love for the water in Murph.

The cool thing about working here at Orvis is we have a pond right outside the door, complete with an island in the middle, which offers a number of opportunities for giving Murph different looks. Obviously at this stage I’m not trying to get too tricky here, just offer him easy, focused retrieves where he gets to do a little swimming.

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In Memory of Rudy: Hope for a Canine Cancer Cure



Rudy was a wonderful, happy-go-lucky yellow Labrador retriever; my best friend. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May, 2010, I was shocked! How could this happen to a dog neutered at six months of age? Then I found out that the prognosis for this type of cancer is only about one month. With the help of our Board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist, Dr. Ronald Hodges, we were able to have three quality months with him; I will always treasure each day. Even though Rudy is gone, others may have a chance because of the work being done at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation.


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Dog(s) of the Day – Lee and Bear

Enter the Orvis Cover Dog Photo contest for your chance to put your dog on a future cover of the The Orvis Dog Book catalog, win a $500 gift card from Orvis and help us beat canine cancer! Enter online at

Orvis Cover Dog Contest - Lee and Bear
Lee and Bear take the plunge
Photo by Elizabeth, Missoula

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Murph Training XVII: The Old Dog Teaches the Young Dog New Tricks




The developing relationship between Pickett and Murphy reminds me a bit of The Old Man and the Boy, the remarkable stories of Robert Ruark about a young boy and his grandfather and their adventures together hunting and fishing in old North Carolina. While Pickett is not Murphy’s grandfather, they are in fact chronologically suited, as Pickett is nearing 63 using the hypothetical dog-year calculation and Murphy is somewhere around five.

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