This is a seven-inch Zoom Mag Super Fluke. It’s one of my all-time favorite lures and it’s a fantastic bait to throw to spring bass. It is also, apparently, irresistible to English setters, because this particular fluke made it about halfway down my dog’s throat before I could grab it (just) by the tail end and pull it out. My children had apparently been “fishing” with the fluke it in our backyard water garden, left it sitting and when I went out to work the dog she found it and immediately scarfed it down.

It reinforces the point that dogs will eat anything. Literally, anything. Socks, balls, children’s toys, dead birds, pieces of rope, there is no rhyme or reason to what a dog will try to swallow. I know everyone has a tale of some outlandish item their dog swallowed and then either brought it back up or sent it out the other end, and a lot of said tales tend to be of the humorous, head-shaking “dogs-will-be-dogs” variety, but it’s no joke, and no laughing matter.

Each year thousands of dogs die of bloat (which basically, is a condition of excessive intestinal gas) brought on by gastric torsion (twisting of the stomach) or intestinal obstructions.

I know, because last year it happened to me. I lost my young and much-beloved male chessie after he swallowed a plastic children’s toy when I wasn’t looking. Bloat came on in the night, when I didn’t notice, and the next morning he was dead. It was devastating, to say the least.

Bloat is one of the leading causes of death among dogs (Here’s a very concise article on bloat/gastric torsion on the gundogsonline website. And while bloat associated with feeding and activity is the primary focus of most studies (and another blog topic in the near future) bloat caused by obstructions is just as deadly, especially this time of year when the kids are home for summer and back yards tend to be scattered with toys, balls and other things tempting to dogs.

So please, use the consequences of my carelessness as a cautionary tale: make sure you keep easily-swallowed items out of the reach of your dogs, and if they do swallow something, call your vet immediately and ask their advice.

In all likelihood, chewing up and swallowing that fluke would have resulted in nothing more than an easily-passed, pearl-white stool. But after losing one dog, I don’t take chances any more. Neither should you.