It was the glint of silver at her dog's mouth which set alarm bells jangling for Marina Abke as she walked her black poodle-cross on their daily stroll along the edge of Wallis Lake in Forster.
Marina desperately attempted to extricate the fish head from Jett's mouth, but he stubbornly refused to release the delicious morsel - and swallowed it.
Rushing home 300 metres away, Marina's husband, Peter, rummaged through their telephone directory to find the Sweet Pea Animal Hospital's address on the southern outskirts of Forster and was advised to bring the dog to the surgery post haste.
The vet's news was grim, their fearful suspicion correct. X-rays revealed Jett had swallowed a stainless steel fish hook, a large one.
And then the news became worse.
The hook would cause Jett serious internal injury and, as it was too large for him to pass normally, the expectation was that it would kill the dog.
Surgery was required to remove the barb.
Then the news became even more alarming.
"We understand this is not the first time a dog has swallowed a hook from a fish in the lake so please be aware of the danger and use the bins provided.Marina Abke
The hook was an expensive one.
The operation to their beloved pet would cost $2800 for its removal.
High-level discussion at the Abke residence determined their affection for Jett was greater than the financial pain necessary for the dog's life.
They decided he should have surgery.
A day after Jett consumed the hook, Sweet Pea Animal Hospital's veterinary surgeon, Dr Catherine Wells, performed the operation and for three days and nights, the dog remained in recovery until it was decided he could return home.
"Saving Jett's life became Peter and my Christmas and birthday presents to each other all rolled into one," Marina said.
"But he was worth it. He's a lovely dog."
Marina's urgent message to negligent fishermen was: "Jett's terrible experience and the costly operation would have been needless had the fisherman - or fisherwoman - used one of the rubbish bins that MidCoast Council has installed along the lake for the fish head.
"We understand this is not the first time a dog has swallowed a hook from a fish in the lake so please be aware of the danger and use the bins provided.
"People are usually very good here and do not litter the park."
Jett is alive and well and recovering but with an expensive scar on his belly as a permanent reminder of how fortunate a dog he is.
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