A STRICKEN pooch was left feeling below par – after eating nine golf balls.

And incredibly, when vets performed an operation to remove them, they also discovered the family pet had been shot in the past.

Bertie, a pointer bloodhound cross-breed, was taken to the vets by his owner Ben Jewell, 12, after he saw him swallow a golf ball while playing at his home in Great Totham.

Following an x-ray at Clarendon House veterinary surgery, in Heybridge, vets were astonished to find nine golf balls in Bertie’s stomach.

A tenth item, spotted floating in the fat in his belly, was found to be a bullet – believed to be from a rifle.

Ben’s father, who did not want to be named, said: “The other day I was going round the golf course with Ben and I noticed that we were short of a few balls.

“We never thought anything of it until the other day, when we witnessed him pick up a golf ball, start playing with it and then swallowing it.

“Alarm bells started ringing and we phoned the vets, who told us to rush him down there.”

Bertie had to undergo a two-hour operation on his stomach to remove the items, at which point surgeons discovered the bullet.

The family was oblivious to the shooting.

Bertie must now return to the vets regularly for check-ups until his stitches are removed.

Ben’s father added: “He is home now and looking a bit sheepish. He has a big scar on his belly and he is not allowed to go out on any walks for a few weeks, but at least he is still with us.”

Vet Emily Nightingale said: “We were absolutely flabbergasted when we saw the x-ray. His stomach could have easily ruptured from the pressure of the golf balls, which could have been fatal, and the fact the bullet miraculously missed his vital organs proves just how lucky this brave little chappie has been.”