Rhodesian Ridgeback’s Rooftop Rough-Housing Halts Road Trip

Melissa Crowley and Nathan VanPelt’s companion Zimba, a 1-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, is more than just a dog, she’s a fellow adventurer. The family has been on countless expeditions together, including a pair of coast-to-coast cross country trips. However their last exploration may stand as their most memorable, after Zimba crashed and fell through a roof top glass window, sustaining serious injuries. Zimba’s strange circumstances and heartening recovery have earned her the title of December’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

The couple purchased Nationwide for Zimba when she was a puppy while living in Oregon. At the time of her accident, Melissa, her fiancé Nathan and Zimba were in the midst of moving to San Diego, traveling by car. During the road trip, they made a pit-stop in San Francisco to visit an old friend who lived in a home that had been transformed from a warehouse.

“The stop in San Francisco was supposed to be refreshing for all of us,” said Melissa. “It was a chance for us to relax and for Zimba to burn some energy off with other dogs. The house was open and spacious for the dogs to play, but we had no idea it would lead to such a disaster. Accidents can happen at any time, and this sure proved it.”

Once at the house, the family headed to the rooftop lounge for dinner. It included a large area for Zimba to run around and play with a dog who lived at the residence. As Zimba’s parents were enjoying a relaxing dinner, they witnessed the rambunctious Ridgeback sprint across the lounge followed by the sound of a sudden crash. Zimba had leaped into a far area of the lounge with a skylight window and shattered it, falling through. Melissa and Nathan rushed to help the pup who landed on a steel beam directly below the window. After pulling Zimba to safety, they noticed blood and rushed her to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital.

“The whole thing was terrifying. We thought the lounge was completely secure,” said Melissa. “We’re lucky Zimba landed on the beam or else she would have fallen farther onto concrete. Once we pulled her up, we could see that she had deep cuts on her legs from the glass. Zimba is such a happy and loving dog, it was devastating to see her in pain.”

After being examined by the veterinary staff, Zimba needed to be anesthetized for minor surgery involving both interior and exterior stitches to repair her wounds. Fortunately, she escaped the incident without any major or life-threatening injuries.

“Zimba is lucky her fall didn’t cause serious harm,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “Lacerations from sharp objects like glass can easily cause deep tissue damage such as severing vital tendons or arteries. Also, the potential impact onto concrete from that distance could have resulted in severely broken bones and internal organ damage. Zimba’s extremely fortunate that he had owners who spared no time in getting her emergency treatment.”

After spending the night in the animal hospital, Zimba and the family completed their move to San Diego. Since her dinnertime disaster, Zimba has made a full recovery and is happier than ever in her new home.

“We’re just grateful that Zimba is okay,” said Melissa. “She’s our little adventurer and we didn’t want anything to change that. Thankfully the accident hasn’t changed a thing. She’s the same playful dog from the rivers of Oregon to the beaches of San Diego. Having Nationwide made this situation easier because we knew that we’d be covered no matter where we took Zimba. With Nationwide we’re ready for anything!”

Pet Health Spotlight

Right when Rhodesian Ridgeback Zimba needed care, her concerned pet parents stepped in to take action. That’s exactly what first aid is about, and administering it can help your pet in times of need.

What to do right away if your pet needs help:

  • Stay calm. This will keep your pet calm and help you take note of any symptoms.
  • Ask someone nearby to call your vet so you can focus on your pet.
  • Assess the best way to transport your pet for help that will cause the least pain or additional injury.

Learn more about first aid for pets


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