BBQ Blunder Leaves Boxer with Skewer of Vengeance

Curtis’ knack for snacking landed him in serious trouble after he swallowed a wooden BBQ skewer, which disappeared in his body and nearly ended his life more than a year later.

Valerie Mould of Princeton, W.Va., has grown accustomed to her 5-year-old Boxer Curtis’ knack for snacking on things he’s not supposed to. Curtis has ingested various items in the past, including a frisbee, but has remained unscathed. However, his luck came to an end after he swallowed a wooden BBQ skewer, which disappeared in his body and nearly ended his life more than a year later. Curtis’ bizarre battle and remarkable recovery have earned him the title of May’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

The saga of the skewer began more than a year ago at the Mould’s home during a family barbeque to celebrate the birth of their daughter. Valerie’s mother-in-law had prepared chicken and beef shish kabobs, and placed them on the kitchen counter. Curtis caught whiff of the delicacies and seized his opportunity with one big leap. Valerie saw the theft and charged after him.

Curtis Collage

“I saw him grab it and chased him outside,” said Valerie. “When I caught up to him, I yelled for him to drop it and grabbed the end sticking out of his mouth, but the skewer snapped right as I got my hands on it and Curtis swallowed it in one bite. I knew the drill and called the veterinarian right away.”

The veterinarian told Valerie to watch Curtis closely to see if the skewer would break down and pass. The next morning Curtis seemed fine and ate breakfast, but that night he started to vomit and collapsed. Valerie called the local emergency veterinary hospital, which recommended she take him to Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech for treatment. Curtis underwent an ultrasound and endoscopy, but the staff couldn’t see the skewer.

“They couldn’t find the skewer anywhere, no matter what they tried,” said Valerie. “There were no signs that the skewer had punctured anything either so they believed that it had possibly broken down in his stomach. They monitored him for a couple days in the Intensive Care Unit, and sent him home once he seemed to feel better.”

The Moulds monitored Curtis’ stool for weeks, but saw no signs of the skewer. A few months later he started acting like a different dog. He stopped playing and didn’t eat as much as he used to. Valerie took him to the local veterinary hospital multiple times, but his illness was non-specific and remained a mystery. Slowly Curtis’ demeanor became worse, and he began to shake and yelp when his side was touched. Another trip to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech revealed a large mass near his liver. The veterinarians feared that it could be cancer, which would explain why his health had been deteriorating.

Curtis Collage with Family

“We just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him,” said Valerie. “He’s like our child and we would do anything for him. Hearing that he could have cancer was heartbreaking, but we were going to get him all the care he needed, no matter what.”

When the veterinarians performed surgery to remove the mass, they were shocked at their discovery. The mass was a large ball of scar tissue surrounding the skewer that Curtis had eaten over a year ago. The skewer had pierced through his intestines and traveled through his body until adhering to his stomach and pancreas.

With the skewer now removed, Curtis is slowly returning to his old self. He has started to play again and is regaining his athletic Boxer physique. Valerie is relieved that the mystery has been solved and that Curtis is finally on the road the recovery.

“Curtis is such a sweet and loving dog, it was hard to watch him struggle for so long,” said Valerie. “I’m just happy it’s all over, and grateful that we had Nationwide. Not having to worry about the veterinary expenses took a huge burden off our decision making. We were able to commit to getting him the medical help he needed, without thinking twice.”

Pet Health Spotlight

Even as vigilant as you are, it helps to know what to do if your pet swallows something other than food.

Quick tips on pet intestinal blockages:

  • Pick up pieces from toys—especially strings or ribbons—because they can get tangled in your pet’s intestines.
  • Symptoms include not eating, acting depressed, having diarrhea or vomiting.
  • X-rays can help reveal a blockage, and if something is in fact lodged, surgery is required to remove it.

Read more about pets swallowing foreign objects


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