As their name suggests, golden retrievers are known for retrieving things – not for having things retrieved from inside them.
But a lucky five-month-old golden retriever puppy called Dustin is now making a full recovery at home after swallowing a fork.
The puppy was rushed to the Adelaide Animal Emergency and Referral Centre for an emergency endoscopy to find and remove the large piece of cutlery.
“If I didn’t have my training, I would have been concerned that someone had doctored the photo,” said vet Matt Woodruff after viewing an x-ray.
The dog’s owners Elise and Michael Pitt, of Glengowrie in Adelaide’s south-west, said they had just walked away from the dinner table for a moment on Sunday when Dustin jumped up onto the table.
“The dog got his paws up and pulled the plate down and scoffed the lot,” Ms Pitt said.
“We then had to work out whether he’d eaten the fork or not, so the whole plate was on the floor and because we were yelling at him he was obviously trying so hard to finish it [and] scoffed the fork and ravioli and all.”
Ms Pitt said panic set in when she and her husband could not find the fork.
“Straight away it was like, ‘where is it, is it in there?'” she said.
“I’ve opened his mouth, had a look, can’t see anything, then we’re searching the floor trying to find the fork, but it was nowhere to be found, so we had to make the phone call.”
The dog’s owners were only too happy to fork out to remove the utensil, and the animal centre posted a video on social media that showed how vets carried out the procedure.
“Imagine getting the call: ‘I think my dog ate a fork’. A fork you say? Really? Are you sure? Is it a plastic one? Or a metal one?
“Either way, that’s incredible, but an absolute emergency all in one, so you’d better bring him in.”
The video shows the fork being removed safely from the dog’s stomach and up and out of its throat.
The centre said the “low risk” and “minimally invasive” surgery was a success.
‘We see some strange things through here’
The vet who performed the surgery said he had seen many different items swallowed by dogs, but never a utensil.
“We see some strange things through here,” Mr Woodruff said.
“It was surprising, it was the first time I’ve seen a dog with a utensil, but something I figured I’d be able to remove.”
He said Dustin was lucky his owners were aware he had eaten the fork, or the outcome could have been different.
“I think if it hadn’t been seen, nobody would have imagined that a dog would swallow a fork and there would have been some serious trauma to the stomach if it had happened,” he said.
After the successful surgery, Michael Pitt said he didn’t expect Dustin’s behaviour would change too much, despite the close call.
“He’s obsessed with food, he walks around sniffing around for food and tries to get whatever he can into his mouth and swallow it,” Mr Pitt said.
“He still climbs up on the bench, still pulls plates down and eats [the] kids’ toast and all of that stuff, I don’t think he’ll ever stop doing that.”