Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bulldog Swallows 15 Pacifiers

WARSON WOODS — The pacifiers kept disappearing. One, two, three, four...

David and Jennifer Zwart thought most couples with a newborn must go through this. Maybe the pacifiers were falling out of the car, or their 18-month-old daughter was leaving them at other peoples' houses.

"One by one, over the course of months, we just couldn't find them," Jennifer said. "And we kept buying more."

Then one day, the baby dropped a binky on the floor. The couple's English bulldog, Lulu, sniffed it. Jennifer shooed away the dog and left the room. When she returned, the pacifier was gone.

"We scoured the house and couldn't find it," Jennifer said.

Fearing for Lulu's safety, they took a trip to the veterinarian's office. An X-ray showed an unusual gray area in Lulu's stomach, and the vet decided to operate. MORE
The mystery of the pacifiers was solved.

"They told us, 'We did find the pacifier,' " Jennifer said. " 'But then we found another one, and another one, and another one.' "

The total? Fifteen.

At the vet's office, Jennifer looked at the bag of binkys. Some had turned black from the acids in Lulu's tummy. And that wasn't all. There was a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball.

When the California-based Veterinary Pet Insurance received the $808 claim, employees knew it was a doozy and set it aside. Each month, company employees vote on the most unusual case they review. In December, Lulu's claim beat out dogs that ate nails, a packaged fire log, an entire turkey and several wigs. Yes, wigs.

"I think it was the sheer number of pacifiers," said Grant Biniasz, a spokesman for the insurance company.

Lulu is fine now — and the pacifiers are kept safely away from her. The 2½-year-old dog was happy to show off Friday in the Zwart home, running circles around the living room, grinding her teeth on a bone and jumping up to lick a stranger's face.

"She's just wild," Jennifer said. "She's chewed our carpet. She's chewed our armoire. She's chewed our windowsill. But she loves people."

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