This story has the hallmarks of the Anaconda movie except that the cast comprises a dog, his owner and a freshwater eel.
It has drama, a happy ending and loving thank-yous.
First, the drama. Spud — a jack russell chihuahua cross— hops into a stream at the Whau Valley Wetlands in Whangārei for a nice cooling drink on February 9. An eel latches on to his tongue and drags him underwater.
Spud's owner Brian Grison who was sitting in a shade with his other dog about 50m away heard water splashing and noises the jack russell chihuahua cross makes when fighting with cats.
"I thought he was having a fight with a cat. I sprinted towards him. He was squealing at that point while getting out of the water he'd been submerged in.
"Spud was bleeding heavily from his mouth at which point I knew it wasn't a cat. He continued to squeal on the grass and I brought him back. The bleeding stopped after about an hour."
Grison took Spud to the Mill Rd Vet Clinic the next day and antibiotics and pain relief were prescribed for injury to the underside of his tongue.
"He's fine, but feeling quite sorry for himself. Gelato and ice cream for a couple days while his tongue heals," Grison said.
"Spud is a lucky boy. It is not uncommon for eels to do this — especially during a drought when food supplies are low. Dogs don't always survive this as the damage to the tongue is usually much worse than what Spud endured.
"Thanks Mill Road Vet Clinic for looking after our Spud. I can say he's recovering well and getting back to his happy self."
Grison said he wouldn't take Spud to that stream for "some time" but he did swim at another location on One Tree Pt after the incident.
He has taken care of Spud, now 10, since birth and said it was routine for them to walk around the wetlands and for his dog to have a drink from them stream.
Grison is advising pet owners to be aware of eels when in the water with their animals, especially during this drought.
The vet clinic said it was an unusual situation and possibly exacerbated by the drought conditions, murky water and a lack of food supply for wildlife in general at the moment.
Freshwater ecologist at Niwa, Dr Paul Franklin, said the eel probably reacted the way it did after it felt threatened by Spud.
"I wouldn't say the eel's reaction was as a result of the current drought. It was a basic fight or flight response. It's a natural behaviour of animals or humans when they feel threatened."
Franklin said there has been stories of people being bitten by larger eels that were also known to eat ducklings.
"The eel won't try to eat the dog but attack and run later. It's a natural response," he said.