Meet the 15th annual Hambone Award finalists

Press Release

Voting is now open for Nationwide’s most unusual pet insurance claim

The 2023 Hambone Award finalists (Image courtesy of Nationwide Pet Insurance)

The 2023 Hambone Award finalists (Image courtesy of Nationwide Pet Insurance)

Nationwide Pet Insurance has officially shared the top finalists for its annual Hambone Award. The Hambone award, named after a dog who was stuck in the family refrigerator and ate an entire holiday ham prior to be discovered with a mild case hypothermia and a licked-clean ham, honors a pet who has filed an insurance claim for a surprising or unique scenario.

“Each year, we’re able to highlight nominees that have made remarkable recoveries because of the diligence of the pet parents and the incredible skills of their treating veterinary healthcare teams,” said Jules Benson, BVSc, MRCVS, AVP, vice president, pet health and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide, in the organizational release.1 “Pets might still get into unusual or unexpected situations, but the peace of mind that comes with Nationwide protection allows pet families and veterinary healthcare teams to focus on what counts.”

The 10 finalists for the 2023 Hambone Award are1:

  • Aurora, a goldendoodle from Belmont, New Hampshire, had her paw stuck in a snow-covered storm drain grate and as she furiously tried to extract her paw broke her own leg. She had to have emergency surgery to repair the broken bone above her knew and has since made a full recovery.
  • Belle, a Jindo from Atlanta, Georgia, went up against a large deer that walked into her family’s backyard. Luckily, the fight with the deer only caused Belle to have soft tissue damage and some scratches.
  • Bernie, a mixed breed dog from Rescue, California, was run over by an ATV while on a run Christmas Eve. Although his injuries were not life-threatening, Bernie required significant care and recovery in order to return to his normal self.
  • Giles, a cat from New York City, New York, ended up stuck in the family’s pull-out sofa after out-of-town visitors accidentally closed the couch with Gilles underneath. Giles suffered no lasting effects from the incident except a new fear of hinged objects.
  • Grayson Haze, a Labrador retriever from College Station, Texas, jumped from a 36-foot-high bridge and landed onto a concrete embankment. Grayson Haze miraculously did not need surgery and his internal injuries healed after 2 months of rest.
  • Jax, a Pug from Las Vegas, Nevada, was recovering from surgery at home in a bed comforter but became dangerously overheated and had a heat stroke. After cooling treatments were administered by his veterinary team, his temperament and temperature return to normal.
  • Josie, a mixed breed puppy from Alameda, California, suffered from a broken jaw and lost 4 teeth while chasing a ball during a game of fetch. The theory is that Josie sustained these injuries after colliding into a cast-iron stadium seat that are mementos from Candlestick Park.
  • Miko, a cat from New Orleans, Louisiana, took a 7-foot leap into the air from his catio after a pair of doves were starting a nest too close for his comfort. Home security footage showed Milko was bitten near the eye during the mid-air encounter with one of the doves. Except for a minor cut, Miko was not seriously injured.
  • Rolex, a green-cheeked conure from Milton, Massachusetts, was in a different home visiting family when the homeowner, who did not see him perched on an open door, accidentally shut the door, slamming Rolex in the door. His injuries were severe, but Rolex was treated and recovered.
  • Sunny, a Labrador retriever from Anaheim, California, shimmed his crate 5 feet across a room to get closer to an electrical outlet. He then managed to snag and ingest 3 phone charger cords. Sunny had an emergency procedure done to remove the objects and made a full recover.

The winner of last year’s Hambone Award was Rafa, a Siberian mix, who had escaped from his outdoor adventure at his house and ended up falling 45 feet deep drainpipe.2 His family located him after hearing his meows coming from the sewer grate and immediately called for help. Rafa was successfully extracted thanks to help from the fire department, animal rescue, Public Utilities, Roto-rooter, and serval neighbors planned, dug, and cut into pipes. Rafa spent a week in the ICU for severe hypothermia and other complications but made a full recovery.

All the pets nominated for the Hambone Award made full recoveries and received reimbursement for eligible expenses. Voting will remain open until September 22, 2023, and the winner will be announced on September 28, 2023. The chosen winner will receive the Hambone Award trophy, a gift card, and a donation in their name to an approved pet charity. Second and third place will also receive a prize and charitable donation opportunity.

To learn more about each finalist and vote, visit


  1. Charger-chewing canine, high-flying feline among finalists for Nationwide’s 15th annual Hambone Award. News release. Nationwide Pet Insurance. September 13, 2023. Accessed September 18, 2023.
  2. Nationwide announces 2022 Hambone Award winner. dvm360. October 19, 2023. Accessed September 18, 2023.
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