Beehive-eating Labrador wins award for most unusual pet health insurance claim

Ellie the Labrador

Ellie the Labrador

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, asked the public to go to the polls and decide which pet with the most unusual health insurance claim in 2010 would take home the 2nd annual VPI Hambone Award. Between Aug. 2 and Aug. 16, nearly 3,000 people visited to choose among the 12 nominees and select a favorite.
This year’s award goes to Ellie, the Labrador retriever from Santee, Calif., that ate an entire beehive and its thousands of inhabitants. Ellie may be a young dog, but she’s already managed to eat everything from wooden toy train tracks to laptop computer keys. So the beehive in the backyard was just another culinary adventure for this insatiable pooch.
Unfortunately for Ellie, the recently sprayed beehive was full of pesticides and thousands of dead bees, and that combination sent her to the veterinary hospital later that night. Ellie was treated and sent home with an upset stomach but made a full recovery.
As the winner, Ellie’s owners, Robert and Sandra Coe, will receive a bronze
trophy in the shape of a ham as well as a gift basket full of doggie toys and treats.
Created to recognize the year’s most unusual pet health insurance claim, 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 before being found with a licked-clean hambone and a mild case of hypothermia.
Second place went to Aubie the Border collie in Birmingham, Ala. A lot of dogs just bark at the mailman, but not Aubie. To get to his letter-carrying “foe,” Aubie leaped through a closed living room window, shattering a pane of glass and cutting his left front leg in the process. Fortunately, Aubie’s owner, Sharman Martin, was home at the time and was able to wrap Aubie’s leg in a towel before rushing him to his veterinarian’s office. Two and a half hours and 40 stitches later, Aubie was good as new again. “Aubie’s never been enamored with
the mailman,” Sharman summed up.
Third place “winner” was Darci the West Highland white terrier in Belleville, Ill. Darci always lunged at noisy appliances, but owner Barbara Abell never thought she had to worry about her Westie biting one. That all changed the day Darci took a nip at a buzzing chainsaw Barbara’s husband was using. The chainsaw cut two small holes into Darci’s muzzle and required five hours of surgery. The experience taught Barbara not to take anything for granted with a determined pet. “If your puppy is as inquisitive as mine, it just might cost it its nose!” Barbara said.
Additional nominees for the 2010 VPI Hambone Award included a boxer that chased and caught a moving delivery van by biting into one of its tires, a standard poodle with a taste for dirty diapers, a Jack Russell terrier that wrestled with a predatory lizard while in Australia, a Labrador retriever that ran tongue first into the pointy-end of a stick during a game of fetch, and a California
desert tortoise that scalped himself on a branch and his own shell. Like Ellie,
all pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance
reimbursements for eligible expenses. Full stories for all 2010 nominees can be found at

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