For six months, Jennifer Zwart believed her daughter's missing pacifiers had simply been misplaced-kicked under couches or dropped from a moving stroller-but Lulu, her English bulldog, knew better.

For six months, Jennifer Zwart believed her daughter's missing pacifiers had simply been misplaced-kicked under couches or dropped from a moving stroller-but Lulu, her English bulldog, knew better.

"One day I saw Lulu licking a dropped pacifier and scolded her for it. I didn't pick it up right away, because I never thought she would eat it, but I turned around and the pacifier was gone," said Zwart of Warson Woods, Mo. "I took Lulu to the veterinarian and expected that an X-ray would reveal the pacifier. The X-ray was unclear, so the veterinarians decided to perform surgery. Midway through the surgery, they started a 'binky count,' as they pulled out pacifier after pacifier. They had never seen anything like it. Over the course of six months, Lulu had swallowed 15 pacifiers, a bottle cap and piece of a basketball."

Zwart's claim for Lulu was one of more than 75,000 claims received in the month of December by Veterinary Pet Insurance, the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance. Lulu's dietary indiscretion was considered along with other remarkable claims submitted in December and selected by VPI as the most unusual of the bunch.

"After the surgery, the contents of her stomach filled half of a one-gallon Ziploc bag," said Zwart. "The technicians asked if they could take pictures with their camera phones. We were all shocked, especially since Lulu never had any symptoms and I had no idea all of those pacifiers had gone missing. Fortunately, Lulu handled the surgery very well and now that we are aware of her appetite for pacifiers, we make sure they're never left lying around."

As the most unusual claim submitted in December, Zwart's claim will be placed in the running for VPI's first Hambone Award. Each month, VPI employees will nominate the most interesting claim and in July 2009 ask the public to vote for the most unusual claim of the year. 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.

Honorable mentions in December included a dog that ate nails, a dog that ate a packaged fire log, a dog that ate an entire turkey carcass, and a dog that ate several wigs. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.