Vicious Vacuum Battle Leaves Border Collie with Hockey Style Smile

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual May Claim

When Louise Vai, of Saint Paul, Minn. adopted a 5-year-old Border collie named Lily, she knew there would be a significant adjustment period. Lily’s previous life had been filled with neglect, but after lots of love from the Vai family, Lily overcame nearly all her obstacles… except for one. Lily hated the vacuum cleaner with a passion, and despite consistent training, one day Lily’s animosity boiled over into an ambush on the appliance that landed her in the emergency room with severe injuries to her mouth. Lily’s cleaning tool tirade and heartwarming recovery have earned her the title of May’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

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Before Lily joined the Vai family, she’d spent the first five years of her life malnourished and deathly afraid of men due to abuse. The Vai family was determined to give Lily the life all dogs deserve, and spent every day helping her rehab with a well balanced diet, lot of affection and proper training.  Within months, Lily transformed into an affectionate, happy-go-lucky pup that enjoyed playing with other dogs and chasing the ball. However, the only obstacle the Vai’s couldn’t break was Lily’s hatred for the vacuum cleaner.

“We noticed Lily’s dislike for the vacuum immediately after bringing her home,” said Louise. “As soon as I would turn it on she would snarl and try to attack it. Even though she had made so much progress with everything else, she never got over her vacuum issues.”

To combat her constant attempted vacuum attacks, Louise trained Lily to stay in the landing of the stairs while she vacuumed. The process worked perfectly for months, until one day when Louise turned her back to rearrange some chairs, and Lily saw her chance to attack.

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“I took my eyes off the vacuum for one minute and felt a tug on the cord,” said Louise. “Lily let out a loud yelp and sprinted to hide behind the couch. Everything happened so fast that I couldn’t really tell what took place.”

When Louise approached Lily, she could see the Border collie’s mouth bleeding profusely. She immediately called for her husband to come help. When the couple inspected Lily’s mouth, they discovered that one of her canine teeth was badly damaged and some of the smaller ones were missing. They looked at the vacuum cleaner for clues and found pieces of Lily’s broken teeth lodged inside the appliance Lily had bitten directly onto the central suction area of the vacuum and gotten her teeth stuck in the bumper area along its brim.

The duo wasted no time and rushed Lily to the emergency veterinary hospital for treatment. The veterinary staff treated Lily for initial trauma and provided pain medication, but recommended that she see her regular veterinarian at Companion Animal Hospital for oral surgery.


“Her teeth were already a little fragile as a result of her life before us,” said Louise. “Getting them stuck in that vacuum was too much for them to handle. The veterinarians let us know that her front teeth were in bad shape and would need to be removed. She has quite the unique smile now.”

Within a week after the surgery, Lily made a full recovery and returned to her playful ways.

In the weeks following the incident, Lily hid upstairs when the vacuum came out. She eventually overcame that fear and has returned to her designated spot, which now includes a tall dog gate to prevent a second battle. Louise is relieved the incident is in the past and thankful for the pet insurance support she received from Nationwide.

“I’m just glad she escaped without any serious harm,” said Louise. “I can’t thank the veterinarians enough for the work they did, and having Lily insured through Nationwide helped out tremendously. We don’t hesitate to seek treatment for our pets because we know they’re covered. I don’t know what we’d do without it.”

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