Last week, when I was at the emergency clinic with my yellow Labrador foster dog, Riley, I saw another yellow Labrador who was spending the night in the ER. This dog had been bitten by a rattlesnake, and was undergoing treatment.

It’s weird, because another time I was at the emergency clinic with a foster dog — about four years ago, with a puppy whose kennel cough had taken a turn for the worse (pneumonia set in) — there was a snake-bitten yellow Labrador that day, too. I had to pull out the photo to share with you here, and when I looked at the date that I took the photo, it was in September, too. It’s high time for rattlers here in the West.

So, after Riley recovered from his misadventure (and spent a day rather stoned from all the Acepromazine they gave him to lower his blood pressure), we hit the trails again. Only now, I’m completely neurotic about this yellow Labrador getting bitten by a rattlesnake.

We actually saw a small on the trail one day. I saw Tito (the Chihuahua) spot something on the dirt road ahead of us, and start to move toward it, sniffing. I could see that it was a snake, albeit a small one. I immediately called all three dogs (Otto, Tito, and Riley) back to me, put their leashes on, and hooked the leashes on a nearby fence so I could get a better look at the snake, and perhaps persuade it to move off the road. It was a baby rattlesnake, but I didn’t have to persuade it: it was dead. I don’t know what killed it; it had some injuries around its neck, and ants were already eating it. One by one, I took the dogs close to it, and I let them get a good sniff, and then told them, “Off. That’s bad. That’s an OFF. Bad off.” Who knows if it will do any good.

Riley’s new family wanted some time to get their house ready, and we set a date for me to turn him over to them. In the meantime, I was taking him out for major runs and swims daily. A tired dog is a good dog! But as the day that he was going to his new family drew closer, I grew increasingly worried that something would happen to him before I was no longer responsible for him. We practiced “Off!” several times a day. I watched him like a hawk on the trail, and took him to places where I had never seen a snake before.

On the evening before he went to his new home, I took him to a place I hadn’t been for a while. And even though I didn’t see an actual snake, my “snakeaphobia” was at an all-time high; I don’t think I’ll go back to that particular area again during snake season. I don’t know why, but there were more snake-looking things in this area than anywhere I’ve ever been. Discarded ropes that looked like snakes. A discarded chain. Sticks! I was just as jumpy as could be. But we made it through the walk unscathed, thank goodness. And now he’s in his new home, and I’m going to sleep in for a week.


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