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Harley, the Rhode Island pug who ate (and passed) 100 rocks.
TODAY contributor
updated 9/9/2011 11:21:39 AM ET 2011-09-09T15:21:39

If pooping out rocks was a skill, a pug from Rhode Island would be the most talented dog in the country.

Instead, Harley the pug will have to settle for a potential “Hambone Award,’’ given out annually by Veterinary Pet Insurance. Each year since 2009, the company has nominated the 12 most unusual and outrageous pet insurance claims that it receives out of tens of thousands. The award is named after a dog that was stuck in a refrigerator and chowed through an entire Thanksgiving ham before being found.

The good news is, all nominees made full recoveries and received their insurance money for eligible expenses. The public can vote on their favorite story here, through Sept. 20.

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The clubhouse leader this year is Harley, who ate more than 100 rocks and then pooped them out to the horror and astonishment of his owner, Lori Laverdiere of Manville, Rhode Island. Harley’s competition includes a terrier that bit a chainsaw while it was running, a Chihuahua that was snatched by a great horned owl in the middle of the night, and an English mastiff that was kicked by a mule.

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But even among that distinguished company, Harley’s story has captivated Hambone Award voters on VPI’s website. While on a walk with his owner one day, Harley started pooping out rocks like he was Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail of bread crumbs. Harley soon became ill, unable to eat or drink without vomiting. So Laverdiere rushed him to an emergency animal hospital, where X-rays revealed his stomach and intestines were jammed with more than 100 rocks. After taking some medication, Harley passed the small stones without needing surgery.

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“I wasn’t aware of how many rocks Harley had ingested until I saw the X-ray,’’ Laverdiere told VPI. “We’re not talking about one or two rocks. Harley’s stomach was half full and his intestines were jam-packed. According to the emergency vet, Harley had consumed more than 100 rocks. He had never seen anything like it.”

The x-ray that shows Harley's rock feast.
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Nipping at Harley's heels in the race is the January nominee — Chico, a 3-year-old Chihuahua from Crystal Lake, Ill., who became ensnared in the talons of a great horned owl when owner George Kalomiris took him for a walk at 1:30 a.m.

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Chico was secured to a leash when the owl snatched him, so it soon became a tug of war between Kalomiris and the large bird — with Chico in the middle. Eye-to-eye with the owl, Kalomiris fought it off as it dragged Chico through the snow. Chico suffered a small puncture wound on his right foreleg in the battle with the bird, which had a five-foot wingspan.

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Other nominees from this year include a golden retriever that was bit on the nose by a snapping turtle, a dachshund that was attacked by a seagull, and another golden retriever that had a 25-pound otter clamp down on its nose.

Previous winners include Ellie, a labrador that ate a beehive, and Lulu, an English bulldog that scarfed down 15 baby pacifiers.

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Photos: Top 10 dog breeds in America

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  1. America’s top dogs

    Which breeds are the top contenders for man’s best friend? The American Kennel Club ranks the most popular pups of the year.

    Shih Tzu
    While sweet and playful, Shih Tzus are not afraid to stand up for themselves. As a matter of fact, the word Shih Tzu means "lion" in Mandarin. This portable pooch carries itself proudly, with its head well up and tail curved over the back.

    Cherished by Chinese royals for more than a thousand years, the Shih Tzu was the prized house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty. During World War II, English soldiers discovered the breed and its popularity spread around the world. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 9. Poodle

    The poodle holds the record for being the most popular dog for 22 consecutive years (1960-1982). Though the breed’s elaborately groomed show coat often creates the misperception that it’s a pampered aristocrat, the poodle is actually one of the high achievers of the canine world.

    The stylish “poodle clip” seen in dog shows was designed by hunters to help the breed move through the water more efficiently. In fact, the English word "poodle" comes from the German pudel or pudelin, which means “to splash in water.” (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 8. Dachshund

    The breed lovingly known as the “wiener dog” has a strong personality with a dose of charm and a playful sense of humor. They can adapt to city or country life and can get all the exercise they need exploring a small yard in the suburbs or playing with other dogs in the dog park.

    Dachshunds, meaning “badger dogs” in German, were first bred in the early 1600s in Germany with the goal of creating a fearless, elongated dog that could dig the earth from a burrow and eliminate the badgers for the farmers. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 7. Boxer

    Easy to care for, intelligent, and faithful, the boxer is an affectionate and trustworthy pet for an active family. Boxers are known for standing up on their hind legs and batting at their opponent, appearing to box with itheir front paws.

    People began importing them to America from Germany after World War I, and they began to grow in popularity in the late 1930s. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 6. Bulldog

    The bulldog has been steadily rising up the list of AKC’s most popular breeds since it entered the Top 10 in 2007. A medium-size dog, they are not your typical lapdog, but would like to be! Bulldogs are calm, loyal family dogs that are happy to curl up on the sofa, eat two or three square meals a day, and have their bellies rubbed.

    Said to have originated in the British Isles, the name "bull" was applied because of the dog’s connection with bull-baiting. The original bulldog had to be ferocious and courageous, and almost insensitive to pain. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 5. Golden retriever

    Slipping one place to fifth, golden retrievers are well-balanced, strong, active dogs with a kind expression, a gentle manner and an alert and self-confident disposition. They are intelligent, friendly and reliable, with an innate need to please their owners.

    The breed originated in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s and the dogs were used predominantly for hunting. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 4. Beagle

    The beagle is the only breed to rank in the Top 10 every decade since the founding of the AKC. Originally developed to hunt rabbits, they naturally enjoy the company of other dogs and humans. Curious and comedic, they often follow their noses – which can lead to some mischief.

    Beagles like to vocalize. In fact, the origin of the name "beagle" may have been derived from the French term "be’geule," referring to the baying voice of the hounds when in pursuit of game. The most famous beagle of all, Snoopy, was named the American Kennel Club’s “most popular dog in pop culture” in 2009. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 3. Yorkshire terrier

    These playful dogs offer owners a big personality in a small package. Though members of the Toy Group, this breed is terrierlike by nature — brave, determined, investigative and energetic. Yorkies are highly favored apartment dogs and lapdogs; they are very energetic as puppies and tend to be quiet and settled as adults.

    In 19th century Yorkshire, England, Yorkies caught rats for workers in cloth mills. The breed’s coat was so beautiful that people said the mill workers must have spun their coats in the factories. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 2. German shepherd

    Celebrated for their versatility, distinguished for their intelligence, and beloved for their devotion to their owners, German shepherds are active dogs that love to run and explore their surroundings with their excellent noses.

    Hailed as the world’s leading police, guard and military dog, German shepherds also serve as guide dogs for the blind, guardians, and search-and-rescue dogs. However, they are best known for serving as devoted family friend and protector. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 1. Labrador retriever

    In 1991, Labrador retrievers took over the top spot on AKC’s list of the most popular dogs in the U.S. from the cocker spaniel, and today celebrate their 20th anniversary in the top spot.

    These gentle animals are happiest when with their owners, and require attention and love as much as food and water. Labs are high-energy, action-oriented dogs and can become easily bored without proper training and exercise – ideal for an active family or as a trusted hunting companion. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
    Above: Slideshow (10) Top 10 dog breeds in America
  2. Katie Sokoler / Gothamist.com
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    Slideshow (17) Awkward Family Pet Photos


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