Brave Mixed-Breed Survives Brawl with a Buck

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects April’s Most Unusual Claim

Brea, Calif. (May 22, 2013) – Living in the Boulder, Colorado foothills, Marjorie McCurtain and David Clifton are accustomed to seeing deer and other wildlife near their home. It wasn’t until their one-year-old puppy, McQuire, escaped their yard and was rolled over by a buck that they realized the potential dangers the surrounding wildlife could present to their courageous, but overconfident canine. The deer dustup resulted in a trip to the veterinarian, subsequently earning McQuire the title of April’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“We have a power gate and McQuire managed to escape our yard just as it was closing,” explained Marjorie. “We immediately went after him and found him four blocks down the road toe-to-toe with a 15-point buck.”

Seemingly not intimidated by the large deer, McQuire barked loudly at the buck. After squaring off for a few minutes, the buck knocked McQuire to the ground and rolled him over three times, causing Marjorie to command her dog to come toward her, which he did immediately. Marjorie then grabbed McQuire by the leash and rushed him home.

Although McQuire seemed to be behaving normally once they arrived back home, Marjorie was concerned the incident may have caused internal injuries, so she took him to the veterinarian. During the examination, the veterinarian was shocked to find that other than very minor physical injuries, McQuire escaped the tussle with little more than a bruised ego. The veterinarian also advised Marjorie on the dangers of dogs dishing it out with deer.

“Our veterinarian told us that McQuire was lucky he approached a buck and not a female deer,” said Marjorie. “He said that a doe would have attempted to severely injure him to protect her young.”

A Wheaten terrier and Lhasa apso mix, McQuire’s genetics have made him an extremely protective pooch. Marjorie explains, “Lhasa apsos were bred in the Buddhist monasteries of Tibet and warned the monks if intruders were approaching. McQuire has that protective trait in his DNA and even though the buck wasn’t threatening, McQuire still felt it was his duty to protect us.”

“Pet owners should do their best to protect their pets from dangerous wildlife,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Marjorie took the right steps by teaching McQuire voice commands and keeping him on a leash. Without those precautions, McQuire’s incident with the buck could have ended tragically.”

Unsure if purchasing pet insurance was the right decision for her at the time, after taking McQuire to the veterinarian for illnesses ranging from kennel cough to allergic reactions, Marjorie recognizes the money she’s saved on veterinary bills.

“I don’t know what we would have done without VPI Pet Insurance,” explained Marjorie. “McQuire is a very high-maintenance puppy, and it seems we’re always at the veterinarian. Fortunately, VPI has been able to help with the costs of maintaining his health.”

McQuire’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of April by VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in April included a miniature pinscher that swallowed a brillo pad, a Doberman pinscher that was kicked by a horse, and a Labrador retriever that needed an emergency gastrotomy after ingesting rancid meat. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in April, McQuire will be in the running for the 2013 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Natasha the Siberian Forest cat who went through an entire washing machine cycle, Ariel the Himalayan kitten who was trapped underneath her pet parent’s garage door, and Annie the Yorkshire terrier that was stranded outdoors during one of the worst storms in North American history. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2013 nominees, visit

Digital images of McQuire are available upon request. Send requests to

About VPI Hambone Award

The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The VPI Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the VPI Hambone Award nominees are available at

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the oldest and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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