Pet tales: Dog wins second place in national contest

When a puppy gets her head stuck in a coffee table, you’d think she’d be a shoo-in to win the Hambone Award for the most unusual pet insurance claim.

Pine firefighters on June 9 helped load 8-month-old Ludmila and the coffee table into a car that owner Ilona Segedy and her brother, Mark, drove to Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Ohio Township. Staff members, who were able to safely remove the Tibetan terrier, said they’d never seen anything like it.

Ludmila, one of 11 finalists culled from 1.5 million veterinary insurance claims sent to Nationwide, finished in second place. Who could top Ludmila and the coffee table?

That would be Kismet, a little Jack Russell terrier who attacked a home intruder assaulting his owner, Shu Li, in their home in Salt Lake City.

When Kismet started biting the intruder’s legs and arms, he pulled out a knife and stabbed the little dog. Yet he continued to fight, giving Li time to escape and summon help.

The woman and dog both needed emergency surgery and survived their wounds — as do all the Hambone nominees. The intruder was arrested within hours, thanks to good Samaritans who summoned emergency aid and got his license number.

Kismet won the Hambone Award plus $10,000 for Advanced Veterinary Care of Salt Lake City, whose staff saved his life. The prize money will be used for people who need help paying veterinary bills.

Segedy admits she is “bummed” that Ludmila finished out of the money. “But this isn’t a vanity thing. I really wanted to help people who go to PVSEC.”

Segedy is eternally thankful to everyone who voted for her mischievous, curious and high-energy dog. And she appreciates the firefighters and veterinary staff who saved both Ludmila and the coffee table. After the story appeared in Pet Tales on Sept. 3, she heard from many neighbors and work colleagues.

“It was really fun that Mila became a bit of a celebrity,” she said, with friends all over the country on Instagram and Facebook. “In the spirit of good sportsmanship I salute that dog. Mila is glad Kismet is alive. Congratulations.”

Here’s a look back at the story:

On the day of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Segedy had Penguins tickets and had taken the day off from her advertising and marketing job. She came running when she heard Ludmila “screaming like she was being attacked.” The puppy’s head was stuck in a cutout hole in a solid oak coffee table.

“Mila was beside herself. The table was spinning around her head. It was chaos. I was afraid she would break her neck,” Segedy said.

When hair conditioner failed to help slide Ludmila’s head out of the coffee table, she called firefighters, assuming they would use a saw to separate the dog from the furniture. Instead, emergency responders said the dog and the table needed to go to PVSEC.

Emergency vets asked for permission to sedate the puppy. “They asked me, ‘How special is that table?’ I said, ‘Not as special as my dog.’ “

Less than an hour later, a veterinarian reported that neither saws nor surgery were needed. When the sedative kicked in, staff gently turned Ludmila’s head, and it slipped right out of the hole. X-rays showed there were no blood clots or internal injuries.

“Mila has better health insurance than I do,” Segedy said, noting that her Nationwide insurance covers 90 percent of veterinary bills.

The coffee table was initially banished to the garage, but it’s now back in the living room because Ludmila is older and wiser, and her head is too big to get stuck again.