Tuesday, January 25, 2011


There's this pet insurance company called VPI, and every year they give an award to the pet with the most unusual health insurance claim.  But first they pick a winner for each month, and after that, they choose a winner for the whole year.  So if you want to read all the stories of the nominees, you can go here.  But if you only want to hear a few of the stories, you can read them right here in my blog today.  And before I start, I will just mention that most of the Hambone winners seem to be dogs, but I'm not sure why that is.  One was a cat, though, and there was also a tortoise.

Anyway, the winner for the whole year of 2010 was a yellow lab named Ellie.  And what happened with Ellie was that her mom and dad asked a man to spray a bee hive in their yard to kill all the bees.  So he sprayed it, and all the bees died.  Then that night, Ellie started puking up hundreds of dead bees.  So her mom got very worried and took Ellie to the emergency clinic.  And the vet there decided Ellie would be okay because she didn't get stung, on account of the bees  were already dead.  Also the stuff that killed the bees wasn't very poisonous to dogs.

So Ellie got to go back home, but she had to get antacid pills for several days and eat meals of rice and chicken.  And every time she pooped for about a week, more bees came out in her poop.  Ellie's dad said there were thousands of bees.  But finally they were all gone, and Ellie was fine again.

The winner for the month of December 2010 was also a yellow lab, and his name was Gus.  I think we shouldn't be surprised that a bunch of these winners were yellow labs because if you ever saw the movie Marley and Me, you would know that Marley was a yellow lab, and he also ate weird stuff such as drywall.  So maybe it is a genetic thing with yellow labs.

But anyhow, Gus's story is that during the holidays, there were guests staying at his house, and Gus's mom and dad kept a lot of snacks out on the kitchen counter for everybody to eat.  Then all the humans went to a football game, and when they came home, they found out Gus had eaten all the goodies, which included lots of cookies plus a plate of fudge and the plastic wrap that was over it.  Also he had started chewing on a metal cookie tin.

So Gus had to go to the emergency clinic.  The veterinarian there weighed him, then made him puke up all the nice stuff he ate, and then weighed him again.  And it turned out that Gus ate 5 whole pounds of yummy Christmas goodies.

A yellow lab named Tobey won in November because he swallowed lots of water from the lawn sprinkler, and his stomach got all stretched out and way fuller than it was supposed to be.

In October, Howie, who is a poodle, swallowed an acorn that got stuck in his throat and made it so he couldn't breathe.  Howie's dad tried this thing called the Heimlich maneuver on him, but it didn't work, so Howie had to go to the vet's office.  He finally swallowed the acorn so he could breathe again, but then it came out in his poop later.

Sadie, a golden retriever, was going for a walk with her mom in July, and a river otter bit her right in the face and wouldn't let go.  This otter weighed maybe 20 or 25 pounds.  Sadie's mom didn't have any kind of weapon to use against the otter, but she hit it with the handle of Sadie's flexi lead, and that made the otter let go.  Sadie was okay except for having to take antibiotics and get a rabies booster shot.

And here's a story about a cat named Sandy who won the award in August of 2009.  Sandy was a very bold and curious cat, and she climbed into the clothes dryer to see what was in there.  Then her mom turned the dryer on, and right away she heard a strange thumping sound.  So she turned the dryer off and looked inside, and there was Sandy!  She took Sandy to the vet, but it turned out that Sandy only had one broken rib and some bruises.

So those are some of the stories of pets who won the Hambone Award.  And here's something else that's interesting, which is a list of all the stuff that was taken out of pets' stomachs during 2010.  This list was also put together by the VPI Insurance people.

estrogen patch and make-up brush
tube of denture adhesive
dead poisoned vole
ink pen
plastic nose from teddy bear
magnetic purse clasps
glass Christmas ornament
hearing aid
bed sheet
box of pencils
popsicle stick
avocado pit
dental floss
coffee filter and coffee grounds
pain relief tablet, BB pellet and highlighter
tent door
toy squeaker
16 steel wool pads
pseudoephedrine, sponge, snail poison and tampon
20 cherry pits
light bulb
barbecue brush
jumper cables
razor blades
1 pound of uncooked rice
wallpaper paste
balloon ribbons
a whole bird
deer antler (partial)
extension cord
leash and 3 sticks of butter
pin cushion
portion of wool rug
TV remote control
10 quarters, a penny, a Canadian coin and 3 arcade tokens
foot-long submarine sandwich
fire log
wooden toy train
pine cone
entire round chew bone
eye glasses
money (paper)
oil-soaked dirt
rosary crucifix
25 to 30 soiled diapers
bath bubble mix
bathtub cleaner and outdoor plants
duck bone

I think that the lesson we can learn from this is that if you have any of the items on this list in your house, or if you have any other weird thing that a dog or cat might decide to eat, you should put it in a safe place where your pet cannot get to it.  Because if you don't, you might end up paying Really Big Bucks at the veterinarian's office!

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