The Pennsylvanian family were all worried sick when their pet dog became ill in 2015. She had tummy troubles, and was suffering distress at both ends. The concerned family rushed their poorly pooch to an animal hospital, where an X-ray revealed a worrying mass in her body. And then the veterinarian approached her humans with even more anxiety inducing news. He had discovered the source of their pet’s problem, and he needed to operate urgently.
The dog in question is Tiki, and she was a then eight-year-old black Labrador retriever who lived happily with her human family in Mars near Pittsburgh, PA. Her owners – the two daughters of the house, Sara and Sidney Weiss – absolutely adored Tiki. So when the canine’s behavior suddenly changed in July 2015, the sisters were seriously concerned. They were convinced something was dreadfully wrong with their pet.
To be more precise, their pupper was suffering from stomach problems. Not only was Tiki unlike her usual self, but she was also off her food – a bad sign in any dog. Tiki just couldn’t keep anything down as a result of severe diarrhea and vomiting. When she didn’t respond to medication, her humans knew it was time for more serious action.
The Weiss sisters took Tiki down to the vets in their hometown, the Good Shepherd’s Veterinary Hospital. Once there, the ailing animal was assessed by the facility’s head veterinarian, Dr. Hisham Ibrahim – who is affectionately known as Doctor I. The medical man immediately gave Tiki an X-ray. However, when the results of the scan came back, they only succeeded in raising more questions.
That is because the X-ray detected an unidentified mass inside the stricken Tiki’s stomach. “I see these big huge things,” Doctor I recalled to TV reporters from the news magazine show Inside Edition in September, 2015. The veterinarian gestured to the scan and added, “I’m not quite sure if it’s a foreign body or if there’s something going on.”
There was one diagnosis that the already worried Weiss family were all dreading, and that was that Tiki had cancer. The X-ray scan seemed to indicate this worst-case scenario, but Doctor I could not be sure without surgery. So the head vet elected for an emergency operation for the oblivious Tiki. To everyone’s relief, however, no cancer was found during the operation. On the other hand, what the surgery team did discover was much stranger.
The exploratory procedure revealed that Tiki’s suffering was a consequence of something she had consumed – or should that be somethings? The contents of the canine’s stomach came as a big shock to the operating vets, and a huge embarrassment to the Weiss sisters. For, in fact, the strange mass in Tiki’s tummy was comprised of very familiar objects. Not least of which were sets of Sara and Sidney’s underwear.
Emily Cottle works as vet technician at the Good Shepherd’s Veterinary Hospital and was present for Tiki’s operation. She later described the laundry extracted from the Labrador that day as “incredibly shocking.” It wasn’t as if it was just one pair, either. “Each pair of underwear that I pulled out, I’m like, ‘Here’s another pair,’” she described in an interview with Inside Edition.
“This is pair number six, then pair number seven, then pair number eight,” a still disbelieving Cottle recounted to the cameras. In total, Tiki had eaten eight sets of underwear – more than a week’s supply. And what’s more, Tiki had been unable to digest them and they were still recognizable. “Once I started looking at them, I knew the brands,” the vet tech revealed.
Additionally, Cottle was by no means the only person who recognized the intimate apparel. Even though they hadn’t realized the undies were missing, the Weiss siblings were able to clear up the mystery. “We identified some of the underwear as my own,” Sara admitted to the Inside Edition crew. “The other one is mine, but not all,” Sydney added.
And, if the discovery of the sister’s smalls had not been a big enough shock, there was more to come. In addition to a Band-Aid and four rubber bands, there were plenty more objects found inside Tiki’s stomach. During the two hour surgery time, Doctor I had painstakingly extracted a mass of hair ties from Tiki one by one.
The Good Shepherd’s head vet described the process to local TV channel Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 in July, 2015. “I found this hair band attached to another hair band,” Doctor I explained. “[Then] to another one to another one, and to other things again.” It must have looked like a vet’s version of a stage magician’s never-ending handkerchief trick.
The animal medics had retrieved a grand total of 62 hair bands from Tiki’s interior by the end of the operation – again to the great surprise of the Weiss sisters. They told Inside Edition, “We never really noticed that they were all gone.” Presumably, alongside the hair accessories and the undies, the siblings had not missed the rubber bands and Band-Aid either.
“Doctor I started pulling handfuls of different items out,” an incredulous Cottle informed the Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 team. She added, “It was quite an experience to see.” Meanwhile, the seasoned vet was just as stunned by what he had found in the greedy hound. “It was just amazing, and it’s not easy,” Doctor I conceded.
However, Doctor I had had some practice of pulling out foreign objects from pooches pouches prior to Tiki’s procedure. Apparently, he had performed a similar series of extractions earlier in his career. He told the cameras that another mutt he had ministered to had evidently developed an appetite for baby’s pacifiers. So much so that in the end Doctor I had been called upon to pluck 15 of them from his pupper patient.
However, despite finding such a large number of pacifiers on that occasion, the Good Shepherd’s team still found Tiki’s stomach contents more amazing. “I was there for the pacifiers, and many other different items,” Cottle exclaimed, “but not something [as] big [as Tiki’s assortment].” The black Labradors case of the munchies seemed to be extreme.
“Four rubber bands, a Band-Aid, eight pairs of underwear and 62 hair bands is a lot to be in a dog’s stomach. Especially [one] of Tiki’s size,” Cottle told the TV reporters from Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. Doctor I, however, underlined his belief that Tiki hadn’t just sat down and wolfed all the items down in the one sitting.
In fact, the veterinarian insisted that it had most likely taken Tiki several days to eat that many unusual and indigestible objects. But the question many animal lovers must be asking is why did the pupper eat them in the first place? Well, it turns out that the family dog is far more likely to eat your underwear than your homework.
This is because personal items of clothing – specifically socks and underwear – are very strong sources of a dog owner’s scent. And that makes them an appealing if not irresistible chew toy for their pet pooch. Unfortunately, however, it is easy for such small items, by their very nature, to be accidentally – or intentionally – swallowed. And, as the luckless Tiki proved, such behavior can be very dangerous.
So the advice for people with pet doggos is for them to try and keep their laundry and similar items out of reach, such as safely in a closet or hamper. This tidy behavior could save a dog’s life, or – like poor Tiki – a painful surgical procedure. Fortunately, in this case Doctor I was able to act in time, and Tiki bounced back. Hopefully, she has learned her lesson and no longer has such a big appetite for laundry.