Peanut the Dog Fought a Skunk, Got Trapped in the Rain, and Won a Hambone Award

The Jack Russell/Dachshund mix got into such a predicament, her insurer gave her an award.


Sometimes our four legged family members find themselves in a predicament that no one could have anticipated. Such is the case with Peanut, a Jack Russell/Dachshund mix, whose unfortunately run-in with a skunk brought her national notoriety.

Peanut, owned by Keith and Christy Wolfram of Sicklerville, NJ, has always been a high energy dog, says Keith: “We’ve had countless adventures chasing her through the neighborhood when she escapes by digging under the fence. She loves to run and jump from high places.”

But her antics took a scary turn in October 2011, when a stand-off with nature left poor Peanut nearly buried alive.

“The story started around 8:30 p.m. when Peanut chased a skunk under the deck,” recalls Wolfram, who said they identified the culprit based on the smell.

“For three or more hours, Christy tried to get her out from under the deck by shaking a treat bag and calling her name,” says Keith.

But as rain persisted and Peanut became less audible, they knew they needed to call for help.

Their local fire department responded and spent a rainy 2½ hours trying to rescue the dog. Apparently, Peanut had dug herself into a tunnel, which collapsed around her. Refusing to give up, Christy continued digging.

“They finally dug her out around 2:30 a.m. in a downpour and thunderstorm,” says Keith.

After a dose of oxygen, they rushed their skunk-reeking dog to nearest emergency vet.

Two days later, a more pleasant-smelling Peanut returned home, having been treated for hypothermia.

Luckily for them, the Wolframs had purchased a pet insurance policy for Peanut.

“She has had two previous spinal surgeries,” recalls Keith. “She is a handful — most expensive free dog ever!”

VPI, Peanut’s vet insurance carrier, nominated the dog for the annual Hambone Award, an honor bestowed upon the animal with the most unusual claim filed each year. Peanut took home the trophy for 2012.

Why a Hambone?

The award originated when one of VPI’s insured dogs became trapped inside a refrigerator. Being the opportunist that most dogs are, instead of wallowing in despair, he put the time to good use and ate a Thanksgiving ham, down to its polished, clean bone.

Since then, each year, VPI employees nominate one unusual case each per month for the Hambone. Voting at year’s end determines who takes the trophy.

While the award is affectionately bestowed, VPI hopes the annual event helps remind pet owners to be vigilant, and prepare for the unexpected when it comes to their pet’s care.

Peanut had formidable competition in the quest for the Hambone.

Pebbles, a California cat, got inside a car’s hood just as it was about to embark on a 15-mile journey. When the car finally stopped, Pebbles wearily escaped and hid in a shed, where a neighbor delivered the injured feline to a vet. Thanks to her microchip, she was reunited with owner Leann Mundro, of Rio Linda, CA. Pebbles required jaw surgery and had several lacerations, but she fully recovered.

Then there was Major, an eager hunting dog from Minneapolis who proved that even the daily game of fetch can turn dangerous. When playing with owner Joseph Burns, something caught the dog’s eye. Instead of retrieving the dummy bird that Burns had thrown, the Lab ran full force into a rock. Bleeding and a bit confused, Major did what any good Lab would do: He found the dummy bird anyway and trotted back to his owners, who quickly escorted him to the vet. Major lost several teeth but sustained no major injuries in his fetch mishap.

As the family of Baxter the cat learned, you can’t be too quick about pet-proofing a new environment. When the family’s apartment was off limits due to a fire in the building, the McDougles of Seattle temporarily relocated to another unit. Barely one day into their stay, Baxter climbed onto a narrow window ledge without a screen, and before her horrified owner’s eyes, lost her balance and tumbled 11 stories. Thankfully, after four days in the hospital, the black-and-white longhaired cat recovered and returned home.

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