Spaniel rescued by Superhero Hulk via Swindon vets

By Barrie Hudson - 22 September 2023

  • Bertie


Superhero the Incredible Hulk has inadvertently come to the rescue of a 10-year-old Sprocker Spaniel.

Bertie and family

In an amazing story worthy of a comic book caper, scavenging family pet Bertie gobbled down a Hulk toy - unbeknownst to his owners. 

His visit to a vet would reveal an unrelated serious condition.

Then Bertie suddenly began struggling to breathe and vomiting, prompting worried owner James Rawlings to rush him to Linnaeus-owned Eastcott Veterinary Referrals in Swindon.

There, head of surgery Tim Charlesworth soon discovered Bertie had not only swallowed the toy but was also suffering from a ruptured spleen.

Tim, an RCVS specialist in small animal soft tissue surgery, said: “This was an unusual case as Bertie had two unconnected conditions at the same time, with a full abdominal ultrasound scan showing both a splenic mass surrounded by free fluid and also a foreign body causing intestinal obstruction. 

“Preoperative imaging showed no evidence of tumour spread. Bertie was then taken to surgery where the splenic mass was confirmed as having ruptured and so the spleen was removed.

“In addition, the obstructing foreign body, which we found to be a small plastic Hulk toy, was removed from the intestines. 

“His owners had no idea where the Hulk toy had come from but admitted Bertie was a bit of a scavenger, and in this case his scavenging was actually a good thing! 

“Dogs usually present to us in various stages of collapse when they have splenic masses causing internal bleeding like Bertie. 

“So, eating the Hulk toy and then showing signs of intestinal obstruction actually helped draw our attention to the fact that he had a bleeding splenic mass and allowed us to remove it at a very early stage. 

“Bertie recovered very well and very smoothly and was discharged the day after his surgery. 

“He is fully healed now and doing well. The added bonus is the splenic mass was benign, which is excellent news.”  

Relieved owner James, from Stratton St Margaret, is delighted with the outcome but said it had been an emotional roller coaster.

He said: “We had no idea Bertie had swallowed anything, so were alarmed when he was suddenly struggling to breathe and being sick.

“When the vets said the scans had shown a mass on his spleen and a foreign body in his intestines we feared it could be a terminal situation, that it was going to be cancer.

“We also knew the risk of anaesthesia in a dog of his age, so we were very concerned about him undergoing surgery.

“It was huge relief when we learned the mass on his spleen was benign and the blockage in his intestines was just a toy. 

“It was a real emotional roller coaster but Bertie is now fully recovered and we’re very grateful to Tim and the Eastcott team who were fabulous.”

Eastcott Veterinary Referrals offers expert care in cardiology, dentistry, internal medicine, ophthalmology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery, laparoscopy, thoracoscopy, diagnostic imaging and CT, anaesthesia and analgesia and has its own Emergency Care Centre.

More information about Eastcott Referrals, which is part of Linnaeus, can be found at

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