Couch Cushion Slip Causes Cavalier Catastrophe

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects Most Unusual October Claim

Brea, Calif. (Nov. 23, 2015) To say that Rocky the 7-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is comfortable with Chelsey and Paul Weinacht of Sacramento, Calif., would be an understatement. Rocky enjoys long naps on the couch, an occasional game of fetch, and watching television shows that feature dogs in the cast. However, one day Rocky’s comfort turned into a calamity after he slipped between the cushions of the couch during a nap and dislocated both his hips trying to get up. Rocky’s bizarre blunder and heartwarming recovery have earned him the title of October’s "Most Unusual Claim of the Month" by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

On the morning of the furniture fiasco, Chelsey was out meeting friends for brunch and Paul was relaxing with Rocky at home. Chelsey and Paul’s wedding was only a few weeks away and the couple was enjoying a nice day away from planning. As the morning went on, Rocky eventually fell asleep on the couch watching TV, as he commonly does, and Paul stepped out to grab a quick bite to eat.

“It was such a normal day,” said Chelsey. “Rocky couldn’t have been in a safer environment. It never crossed our mind that something this traumatic could happen. Ironically, we had signed Rocky up for pet insurance with Nationwide just a month prior, which ended up being a blessing.”

During Rocky’s slumber, his back legs slipped between the cushions of the couch. When Paul returned home, Rocky sprung awake and attempted to jump off the couch to greet him, but his endeavor went horribly wrong. Rocky’s back legs were pinned in the couch and halted Rocky’s jump, mid-flight. When Paul entered the room, he found Rocky hanging awkwardly off the couch by one leg.

“Paul called me when it happened and I rushed back home,” said Chelsey. “We weren’t sure exactly what his injury was, but we knew he was in trouble. He’s such a sweet and loving dog, it was devastating to see him in so much pain.”

The couple rushed Rocky to the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for treatment. The veterinarians ran various tests on Rocky and were astonished by the severity of the injury. The team explained that one of the Spaniel’s hips was severely dislocated that the surrounding area had suffered structural damage. Rocky was in need of major surgery.

“We were all shocked by the test results,” said Chelsey. “They said injuries like this are usually caused by dogs getting hit by a car, not just jumping off the couch. We knew he needed an expensive procedure, but money was never a question. Rocky is part of the family and we’d do anything for him.”

The surgery was a success, but another issue was discovered. The fall had damaged Rocky’s other hip beyond what was previously expected, and would also need to be surgically repaired. A couple days later Rocky underwent his second major hip surgery.

“Rocky’s injury is a reminder that pet accidents can happen anywhere, even in the comfort of our own homes,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “Rocky is lucky to have owners like Chelsey and Paul who wasted no time in getting him the treatment he needed.”

After nearly a week in the hospital, Rocky was able to return home, but his recovery was far from over. Rocky needed more than two months to get his health back, and his family was there every step of the way. The newlyweds even postponed their honeymoon to be with Rocky during his rehabilitation.

Today, Rocky is able to run and walk without issue and is regaining his ability to jump. Chelsey couldn’t be happier with the veterinary care provided by the staff at UC Davis, and is grateful for the pet insurance support they received from Nationwide.

“Without the surgeries, Rocky may not have been able to walk again,” said Chelsey. “The veterinary team’s work gave us the opportunity to enjoy Rocky’s companionship for years to come and we’ll always be grateful for that. Having Rocky insured with Nationwide allowed us to get the procedures done without worrying about the cost. If we didn’t have pet insurance, I don’t know where we’d be right now.”

As the most unusual claim submitted in October, Rocky will be in the running for the 2016 Hambone Award. Rocky’s incident was one of more than 107,000 pet insurance claims received in the month of October by Nationwide, and was selected by Nationwide employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in October include a Blue Heeler that was impaled by a stick, a mixed breed dog that was attacked by a horde of Yellow Jackets, and a small mixed breed dog that swallowed a hand warmer! All pets considered for the Hambone Award have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

Note to editors: Digital images of Rocky are available upon request. Please send requests to

About Hambone Award

The Hambone Award is named in honor of a Nationwide-insured dog who got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the Hambone Award nominees are available at

About Nationwide pet insurance

With more than 550,000 insured pets, pet insurance from Nationwide, formerly known as Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), is the first and largest pet health insurance provider in the United States. Since 1982, Nationwide has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers. 

Nationwide plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers pet insurance from Nationwide as an employee benefit.

Insurance plans are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2013); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2014). Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide Is On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2015 Nationwide. Pet owners can find Nationwide pet insurance on Facebook or follow on  Twitter. For more information about Nationwide pet insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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