A family Christmas was turned upside down – when their puppy was rushed into emergency vets care after eating chewing gum one of them sneezed out. 

The one-in-a-million chain of bizarre events happened at the worst possible time on Christmas Eve. 

Everything was going normally – with loveable Rosie, a Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Springer, out for her last stroll of the evening. 

Meanwhile, her owner Cheryl Malone was rushing round the local shop for last-minute items she’d not had a chance to get earlier. 

Then Cheryl’s son Declan, 14, who was walking Rosie on playing fields, happened by chance to let out a sneeze. 

By freak coincidence, the extra-white bubblemint gum he was chewing went flying out of his mouth … 

And seconds later six-month-old Rosie was gathering it from the ground thinking it was a tasty snack. 

In fact, chewing gum can be highly toxic to dogs when, as in this case, it contains the sugar substitute Xylitol – and organ failure can follow if vets help isn’t got quickly. 


Quick-thinking Declan and his sister Leonie, who was out with him, tried to prise the gum from Rosie’s jaws – but food-obsessed Rosie was having none of it. 

And she promptly swallowed the gum instead. 

Declan and Leonie, 17, did some frantic Google searches and phoned Cheryl – who was juggling shopping bags and couldn’t pick up the call. 

When they did speak, Leonie explained what she and Declan had Googled – and Cheryl immediately called Vets Now. 

A few minutes later, rather than tucking into mince pies and Christmas TV, all three were making an 8pm dash with Rosie from their home in Ashton-In-Makerfield, Wigan, to the Vets Now 24-hour emergency hospital in Manchester. 

The emergency team admitted Rosie straightaway for tests – while the family headed home to wait for news, their Christmas plans in tatters. 

“It was awful,” said Cheryl. “We were all so upset. Rosie is our first dog and overnight she’s become an essential part of the family. 

“The three of us just sat there totally miserable and keeping our fingers crossed.” 

With Rosie kept in overnight at the emergency hospital, Christmas morning began the same way – with Declan, Leonie and Cheryl all too distraught to open any presents. 

“Then about 9am we got the call that Rosie was okay to collect,” said Cheryl. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Leonie and Declan move so fast. 

“In about 30 seconds they were in the car and off we all went to collect her – which is not how you expect to spend Christmas morning. 

“I don’t know who was more overjoyed – us to see Rosie or Rosie to see us! 

“Then we went home to start Christmas – and obviously Rosie got to unwrap her presents first: a new doggie toothbrush and toothpaste, some chewy treats and some toys.

“And then we unwrapped our stuff – helped by Rosie who loves ripping the paper off parcels! 

“In all seriousness, it ended well – but it’s not a Christmas we’ll ever forget and we’re just so grateful to the team who looked after Rosie. 

“The team were brilliant with her – and us. They kept us up-to-date through the evening with how Rosie was getting on and that helped put our minds at rest. 

“Rosie was absolutely fine when we got her home – like nothing had ever happened.” 

Vets Now vet Irina Sofronea said: “Leonie and Declan did absolutely the right thing in raising the alarm straightaway. They showed a lot of maturity in what was a really urgent situation. Every second matters in a potential poisoning case like this.” 

“Because they got Rosie to us so quickly we were able to swiftly administer medicine to induce sickness and help clear out her tummy. 

“Then we kept her under close observation during the night to make sure there were no signs at all of toxicity. 

“This really was such an unusual set of circumstances – who ever would have thought a human sneeze could lead to a pet emergency? 

“But we’re just glad that Cheryl, the kids and Rosie – who was a lovely character – were all able to have their Christmas after all … just a bit delayed!”