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Thursday, June 13 2013


Warning: the photos are not the greatest quality, but they are graphic. I do not show them because I'm into torturing my dogs. The photos illustrate the shock, pain, and betrayal. We took no pleasure in doing this, but this exercise might just save their lives, so it had to be done.


So now we have an angry, hurt, pissed off rattlesnake. It is now time for an unsuspecting, trusting dog.

The Snake Breaker explained, we want to work with these three senses of the dog: Sight, Smell, and Sound.

First we set the snake up in an area that the dog will smell it. Then when the dog shows interest in investigating the snake, shock him. After that if he still isn't 100% convinced that he should give snakes a WIDE berth, shock him again. Then put the dog up. (and get another dog)

 Happy dog barrels into snake so quickly that I missed the shot.


 This temporarily convinced him.

Go get Lily . . .

 who wades right into the snake.

 She is now convinced.


 He gets nailed just about the time he recognizes the snake.

 (Breaks my heart)

There are complications with Ranger. He is so scared of The Snake Breaker that he doesn't even look at the snake. I also caution that if he gets zapped while Snake Breaker is holding him there is the distinct possiblity that blame will be assigned and the Snake Breaker will get bitten. Snake Breaker decides it is definitely a good idea to let Other Half handle Little Blue Dog.


After each dog has had one go round with sight and smell, then take the tape off and put the snake in an area they can see it. Then try to lead the dog around the snake. If the dog sits back and says "Go f@*! yourself" your job is done. If they show interest, zap them again. This is the part where the dogs feel betrayed by Other Half. They went the second time because he went. Every one of them KNEW that was a bad idea, but they followed him. (except Trace who told him to go *bleep* himself. )

And Lily . . .

 who refused to go up to the snake.

He later just tossed the snake at her and got this reaction:

 This is exactly what "I" would look like if you threw a rattlesnake at me too.


We felt horrible but they MUST know (as Trace illustrated) that snakes are bad news. "Don't just follow me through the brush. TELL ME there's a *bleeping* rattlesnake in that brush!"


Poor Other Half took the brunt of the blame because he was the Dog Handler and I was just taking pictures.

Dillon illustrates the betrayal perfectly. This broke my heart.

 Dillon thinks this is a safe distance to view the snake.

 "I don't know. Maybe we shouldn't. Do you think it's a good idea?"


 He looks at Other Half as if to say

"I told you the first time we shouldn't go up there. Why did you want me to do that again???"


Thus they all ran to me for support even after Other Half called them. Dillon forgave him pretty quickly, but Lily is still holding a grudge.


I also took them to Dairy Queen for ice cream later. Everyone got their own ice cream.

Have we learned anything? I think so. Will Dillon still wade into another snake? Probably so, but it might be a while. Will this guarantee they won't get bitten? No.

The German Shorthair Pointer I know that died had snake proofing. She never even saw the snake as she ran past him. He bit her and she died. The only thing we can do is give our dogs the rattlesnake vaccine (to buy time), keep drugs on hand, and give refresher courses from time to time with The Snake Breaker. While a one-time training session might work with the Border Collies, I understand Labradors need it every six months or yearly. Since Dillon waded into another rattlesnake only two weeks after one bit him in the face, I can see that he will be a regular attendee at this class.



Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:56 am   |  Permalink   |  8 Comments  |  Email
First of all, condolences on the loss of Zena. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is the best thing to do and you obviously loved her enough to do the best thing for her and her elderly keeper. RE: the best thing about the snake clinic I took my dogs to was that we didn't have to watch all the scarey preps of the snakes. He had both rattlers and copperheads. We were in a rural pasture owned by the Visla club and one of them acted as "dog handler". One of my dogs (the ACD) tried to bite him, the BC peed on him, and the Aussie screamed like a girl! But at least I didn't get blamed for any of it!
Posted by Virginia on 06/13/2013 - 12:39 PM
Like vaccinations and tetanus shots for kids. It hurts but it could save their life, or someone else's life. Ice cream is good for bonobos and feelings of betrayal, for two legends and four legends. Hope the dogs retain the lesson, and that doG watches over them in the fields. You and Other Half, too!
Posted by Clairesmum on 06/13/2013 - 05:37 PM
Will Briar get lessons too??? Thank God most of our snakes run when moement is around.
Posted by Liz 9Vic Aust) on 06/13/2013 - 06:51 PM
To be responsible dog owners, sometimes we have to do things that are really unpleasant and also do things we REALLY don't want to. Snake breaking is both. Kudos on you for doing the right and responsible thing to keep your dogs safe. PS: I hope Cowboy and Briar are going to get the same lesson. I am very fond of them both, even though they are in a different reality than my own =)
Posted by Lisa Ochoa on 06/13/2013 - 06:56 PM
Drat that autocorrect. I meant "boobooos" not "bonobos" though maybe they like ice cream too.
Posted by Clairesmum on 06/13/2013 - 08:29 PM
Yes, Briar and Cowboy will also attend the snake training before they move to the ranch!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 06/13/2013 - 10:01 PM
Just realized I commented on your first post of this series. Our three (a Lab, a Catahoula, an Anatolian Shepherd Dog) responded to the training much like yours.They would have walked to the next county to avoid getting anywhere near the snake on their way to me. Last summer, playing catch with the Lab, our tossed ball apparently hit a spectating rattler smack on the nose. VERY unhappy rattler, and soon very dead. Luckily, the Lab was so surprised by the upright hissing snake with ball in front of it that he decided to wait for further instructions.
Posted by TinaG on 06/14/2013 - 12:13 PM
(Continued ....) Our vet recommends the vaccine, too-- two doses initially, 3 weeks apart, then once a year. In places like Texas or anywhere the snakes are particularly active, he recommends twice yearly boosters. And before heading to the vet (ours is at least 1-1/2 hours away) he recommends benadryl, antibiotics (I keep amoxycillin on hand) and NSAID (NOT aspirin) such as Rimadyl or whatever is handy. Rattlesnake toxin has a flesh-eating component, hence the antibiotics. What's the expression? Sometimes love hurts. And as for "woodies" let us not forget the market for deer and elk antlers! We laughed until it hurt at your rant!
Posted by TinaG on 06/14/2013 - 12:15 PM

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