An adorable puppy called Cody came within millimetres of losing his life after a garden stone he swallowed got stuck behind his vocal cords.

The three-centimetre-long triangular stone blocked Cody’s larynx – making it sound like he had a bad cough when in fact he was gasping for air with only the tiniest space either side of the stone for oxygen to pass through.

By a miraculous stroke of luck, Collie Cody’s swallowing of the stone was caught on owner Claire Roy’s doorbell camera.

Otherwise, neither she nor vet Sasha Burns Fraser, who saved Cody’s life, would have known what had happened because the stone was so hidden away.

One-year-old Cody’s medical drama began in the early evening when he was out in Claire’s front garden playing one of his favourite games: flicking ornamental stones from Claire’s flowerbeds onto her drive.

Cody and his owner Claire
Cody and Claire

Cody's distress caught on camera

Normally boisterous Cody came in from the garden choking and gagging and Claire could tell immediately that something was terribly wrong.

Quick-thinking Claire checked her doorbell camera footage to see if she could get any clues – and saw that Cody had picked up a stone and then swallowed it.

With poor Cody panting and making a distressing rasping sound from his throat, Claire, from Newtownards, County Down, called pet emergency service Vets Now for help.

Able to feel a solid lump in Cody’s throat, and seeing the urgency in his eyes, Claire lifted Cody so his head was pointed towards the ground, and firmly struck his back as one would do with a choking toddler, but to no avail. Claire moved to try the Heimlich manoeuvre, but this also failed.

With Claire’s husband David having rushed back from an outing to watch their three young children, Claire and friend Peter bundled Cody into the car and rushed him to the Vets Now 24-hour hospital in Belfast.

Claire said: “It was only a 20-minute journey – but it felt like the fastest and at the same time slowest drive I’ve ever done… every minute felt like an eternity.

“Peter came with me to hold Cody while I drove – and it was heartbreaking seeing him there in his lap on the passenger seat wheezing and making this awful hacking noise.

“I could see Cody fading with each minute, becoming quieter and sliding further down Peter’s chest. It was beyond terrifying. I really thought my dog was going to die. When we got to Vets Now, we burst through the door, and I practically threw Cody at the poor receptionist, who immediately rushed him straight through to the vet team.”

One year old collie, Cody

The stone stuck in Cody’s vocal chords

Vet's perspective on Cody's critical condition

Principal vet Sasha said: “Claire said she felt something solid in Cody’s throat, but when we examined him, we could no longer feel this structure. Wondering whether he had swallowed it and irritated his airway, causing the cough, we opted to sedate him and have a thorough look to see where it might have ended up.

“And if it hadn’t been for the doorbell footage, we might initially have thought that it was just a case of kennel cough, which was doing the rounds and can result in a really rasping cough.

“But because Claire had the presence of mind to check the camera, we knew he’d definitely swallowed the stone, and it was just a question of finding it.

“So, we began looking down his throat after sedation kicked in, and there it was, to my astonishment, hidden in his vocal cords – and leaving just the tiniest, tiniest airway for him to breathe.

“It was a life-threatening situation, and I was actually amazed that he hadn’t gone blue from lack of oxygen, given how little air was getting through.

“Every second is really critical in a case like this, so I got the team to hold Cody with his mouth pointing down.

“Then I got a very long pair of forceps to reach down into the larynx and very carefully prised out the stone from where it was wedged.

“This really must be one of the first ever cases of a dog’s life being saved by a doorbell camera – because without that footage, we might not have known about the stone until it was too late.”

Once Sasha and her team were sure the stone had not done any other damage Cody was able to go home – tail wagging but a little tired still from his sedation.

Claire said: “He’s such a buoyant character – it didn’t take him long to bounce back. In fact, when he got home, he wanted to go back out to play with the stones again.

“He is the funniest, dopiest dog. We’ve got chickens in our back garden, and he’s actually scared of them – when it should be the other way round.

“And sometimes I think that he thinks he’s a cat – he jumps onto your shoulder when you’re not expecting it, and suddenly there’s this 17kg weight landing on you out of nowhere.

“Cody’s a really big part of our family, and I couldn’t imagine life in the house without him.

“But I honestly felt on that journey to Vets Now that Cody might be dying in slow-motion.

“It was awful, and we’re all really grateful to Sasha and her team for getting him back to us safely and soundly.

“When Sasha came running out to show me the stone and tell me where she’d found it, I don’t know who was more surprised: me or her!

“And I have to say: that doorbell camera really has been worth its weight in gold.”

Sasha added: “If your dog comes in from the garden or back from a walk and something seems to be wrong, please do what Claire did and seek veterinary help straightaway.

“And that’s especially important at this time of year in Spring when dogs are spending more time outside because the weather’s getting better and when it’s getting lighter in the evenings.”