updated 09/27/2012 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 09/28/2012 AT 9:30 AM ET
A quick glance at Peanut reveals not the biggest of dogs, nor the most intimidating of stares, but a doe-eyed – did we say adorable? – dachshund-terrier mix.
But this little pooch found herself in some big trouble last October, when a scuffle with a wild skunk left her buried alive – and almost dead.
Now, almost a year later, Peanut is the 2012 recipient of the Veterinary Pet Insurance Hambone Award, which honors the most unusual pet insurance claims of the year. (The accolade itself is named after a VPI-insured dog who ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a walk-in refrigerator.)
While Peanut has something to celebrate now, there was nothing happy about the situation that followed when Keith and Christy Wolfram of Sicklerville, N.J., couldn’t find their canine companion. Peanut, who seldom shies away from a little face time with wildlife, had clashed with a skunk and slipped beneath the deck in the backyard. The Wolframs then called the local fire department.
But by 2:30 a.m., first-responders from the Winslow Township Fire Department apologized to the couple: They just couldn’t find Peanut.
Christy Wolfram wasn’t ready to give up hope, so she grabbed a shovel and started digging.
“When the firefighters saw Christy continue to dig, one of them decided to take a last look,” recalls Keith Wolfram, according to a press release. And then there was a sign: “I remember him shouting, ‘I see her paw!’ and my heart just sank.”
Once Peanut was recovered, “She was barely moving,” he adds. “I couldn’t believe she was alive.”
The firefighters administered oxygen to Peanut, and the couple rushed their dog, barely breathing and smelling of skunk musk, to an animal emergency facility, where she was treated for hypothermia. Less than two weeks later, she had made a full recovery.
And even better: Now, thanks to her win, she’ll take home a bronze trophy in the shape of a ham, along with a bag full of treats, toys and, of course, an emergency pet kit.