As most of our readers know, the inaugural winner of the VPI Hambone Award® was Lulu, an English bulldog that managed to eat 15 baby pacifiers. At the time it seemed like a very impressive number of pacifiers—until we heard about Bolt, a boxer puppy who had 19 pacifiers surgically removed from her stomach! Bolt’s story came to us from Dan DeNapoli, who happened to find Lulu’s story on our site and thought our readers might appreciate his own tale of disappearing pacifiers.
Dan never once saw Bolt eat a pacifier. Bolt once threw up a pacifier, but since they had just lost one, Dan and his wife Kristina figured that was the pacifier they lost. Other than that one occasion Bolt was eating and acting normal. A month or two later Dan and Kristina noticed “more and more pacifiers were mysteriously disappearing.” They were convinced their youngest child was putting them down air vents as he had a history of removing the vent covers and putting toys in there. (As the father of two little boys, I can totally understand Dan’s assumption as binkies have a tendency to go missing on a regular basis in my house also.)
One day Dan got a call at work from Kristina to tell him Bolt was “acting very strange.” She was acting tired, not eating much, gagging, and throwing up the food she did eat. All Bolt wanted to do was lie down with Kristina. They thought Bolt had eaten another pacifier and because Dan couldn’t leave work, his brother took Bolt to Grayslake Animal Hospital. The veterinarian took an X-ray that showed she had “something” in her stomach.
Bolt was taken to an emergency clinic where the doctor unsuccessfully attempted to remove the pacifiers from Bolt’s “bulging” stomach using an endoscope. According to the doctor because Bolt’s stomach was so full and bloated, there wasn’t enough room to maneuver any instruments. They now had spent $1,000 for an unsuccessful endoscope and Bolt would have to return to her veterinarian for surgery.
Dan took Bolt the next day for her surgery. At this time they still had no idea how many pacifiers they were dealing with, but the doctors felt it was probably no more than a handful. So you can imagine Dan’s shock when the veterinarian told him he pulled 19 pacifiers from her stomach! They couldn’t believe she had swallowed that many—the veterinarian told Dan that some had been in her stomach for months! The 19 pacifiers were placed in a Ziploc bag which Dan has kept as a souvenir of the ordeal.
After the surgery Bolt dropped from 60 to 48 pounds (probably a pound of pacifiers alone) but she made a full recovery. Today she is up to 66 pounds, doing well, is kept “very” far from the pacifiers, and has the dubious honor of being the unofficial Hambone “baby pacifier eating” record holder. We won’t tell Lulu if you won’t.
For pet owners with young children, the lesson is clear: as much as it may be possible, keep a close eye on pacifiers and try to keep them out of a pet’s reach. If pacifiers seem to be mysteriously disappearing, don’t just assume they’re tucked under the couch or stuck between the crib and the wall. And, of course, if a pet does happen to get a hold of and swallow a pacifier, see your veterinarian immediately. An ingested pacifier can result in multiple digestive issues. Plus, it’s much easier to remove one than 19!