Ginko, The Hero!
Ginko is a doggone, five-star, full-fledged HERO! This morning, he protected Lilly from a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike mere feet from the back of the house. I’m still shaking, and it’s been several hours since it happened.
We were doing our usual thing. Tom was getting ready to head out to a couple appointments, then work. I mixed up a fruit and protein shake to slurp down before Lilly and I did 3 miles that we try to get in before temps get too high.
It’s been hot, Hot, HOT around here lately, so we’ve kept the dogs cooped up for fear of snakes. BUT, it was early, still pretty cool … so Tom let the dogs out the back door to poke around.
Ginko on Alert
From my office on the back of the house, I heard Ginko bark. Not his usual, hey-I-see-a-person-or-dog bark. I headed that way to investigate, hollering at Tom to ask if they were out front or out back … because usually the barking gets fainter as they race to bark at whatever they see.
These barks were different. They sounded stationary and close.
Clearly, I have snake denial because for a few seconds I honestly didn’t recognize the noise. It was SO loud and seemed to be coming from everywhere at once.
React, Don’t Think
Ginko stood immobile on the deck, just above the three stairs, and barked again. That’s when I saw a pretty big rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike.
Lilly stood on the ground, just feet from the snake … well within its striking distance (which I think is at least 1/2 of the snake’s total length). Other than perhaps a car speeding toward her or a huge predator chasing us, I cannot imagine seeing anything much scarier.
I grabbed Ginko and shoved him inside the back door, while screaming SNAKE! at Tom who was back in the master bedroom.
I closed the door, turned to Lilly.
She wasn’t barking or approaching the snake, but she had sort of squared off with it. Coiled up, the snake was nearly as tall as Lilly.
OUT Cue to the Rescue
I needed Lilly to move away from the snake, without me having to approach it. So, I gave her OUT cue, which is used in agility to get dogs to move away from or around an obstacle … in this case, the large planter between the stairs near the snake and another set of stairs at the east end of the deck.
So, I ran toward the safe stairs, shouted OUT, and used the accompanying hand/arm gesture to get Lilly to move away from the snake.
And … she … did.
Because my voice, my behavior, and my high emotion scared her, Lilly went flat in the grass on the far end of the deck. While not ideal that she didn’t come straight to me when I asked, I was just happy that she was out of the snake’s range.
I had asked her to move away, and she did. I cannot expect more than that.
I ran down the stairs, grabbed her by the collar, and raced her inside … again, screaming SNAKE! SNAKE! to Tom.
So Far So Good
There is a chance that the snake struck before I got outside, but so far, both dogs seem OK. I keep checking each of them every hour or so, looking for pain or swelling.
With her first bite, she swelled and got really sick within the hour. With her second bite, it took at least a day for signs to show up.
Lilly is acting kind of funny today, but it’s entirely possible that she’s reacting to my anxiety vibe. (The snake is just one of a handful of other worries brewing in my day.)
We’ve known since Ginko’s first rattlesnake encounter (similar to today’s) that he has GOOD snake instincts and does not approach them.
We know from Lilly’s TWO snakebites — August 2008 and June 2010 (just a few weeks ago) — that she does not.
Everyone marvels that my fearful girl seems NOT to fear snakes. I wonder if today’s encounter will change that. That sound was really something, and we know how sound sensitive Lilly is.
When I played the video (linked above) to make sure it sounded like what I wanted you to hear, Lilly got really freaked out.
So, there’s a chance that the sound + my reaction may have imprinted on Lilly. Or, that could be wishful thinking.