MICHIGAN -- A Mid-Michigan dog is in the running for a very unique award, given to the pet with America's weirdest insurance claim at the Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) company.
VPI reviews more than a million claims nationwide for the VPI Hambone Award, and then narrows the field to just 12 nominees - all with quirky claims that ended well.
The Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator, and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to find him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia.
This year's winner could be a miniature dachshund from Charlotte, who miraculously survived a backyard brawl with a wild animal.
Seven-year-old Nathan is one of Bob Bashore's five dachshunds. Nicknamed "Little Big Man," he holds a special place in Bashore's heart.
"It's nice to come home after work and someone wants to see you, lick your face," Bashore said. "It takes a lot of stress out of daily life. Even though we have so many, each one is very unique and loves you in a little different way."
But back in march, Bashore and his wife almost lost their beloved pet after a backyard brawl with a vicious muskrat, a large rodent Bashore says was about the size of the dachshund.
"There was a bunch of screaming and yelping and my wife thought something was wrong," Bashore said. "She went running and found the poor dogs trying to attack the muskrat. She came back into the house, and he was lying on the carpet with a pool of blood starting to surround him."
The canine's confrontation left Nathan with a severe bite dangerously close to his jugular. Bashore's wife immediately took the dog to the Michigan State University veterinary hospital, where a surgeon operated on his injured neck.
"The doctors didn't think he was going to make it with the amount of blood they figured he had lost," Bashore said. "But miraculously he did."
So now Nathan can continue to chase backyard critters at home in Charlotte.
"He's basically fearless," said Bashore. "This won't slow him down. These guys always seem to be getting into some sort of trouble. I'm just glad it didn't end his life."
And as for that attacking rodent?
"We went hunting for the muskrat, and never found him," Bashore said with a smile.
The winner will be announced today - visit www.vpihamboneaward.com for more information on the contest.
Nathan is up against a cat that survived an 11-story fall from an apartment building, and a pot-bellied pig that accidentally overdosed on human medication, among others.
(WILX - Sept 26, 2012)