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Snakes, Murphy's Law, and Old Blind Dogs

It is remarkable how few rattlers I see over the course of a year. The long term average is 0.4 rattlesnakes per year. And some of that is just confusion with similar-looking (non-venomous) bull snakes.

This morning I encountered a snake about three feet long. One of the advantages of being a morning person in the Southwest is that you and your dogs are less likely to have a run-in with a rattler. At first I thought it was a rattlesnake because of the bull snake's criss-cross markings, which are pretty actually. I quickly snapped my younger Australian kelpie onto her leash.

Meanwhile the little poodle, mostly deaf and blind, trotted up the hill. I didn't see any reason for him to head in the direction of the snake so I didn't get him snapped onto his leash.

Naturally the damned little fool trotted over and stood over the bull snake. His feet didn't actually touch the snake or it might have reacted. The morning was cool and the snake was quiescent, but not dormant. I gave the little old poodle panicky warnings to come to me, but he couldn't hear me of course. He knew something was wrong, though. Finally he came to me.

I threw a rock at the bull snake. It contracted into defensive S-curves and began hissing up a storm. Bull snakes don't have rattles. Actually the bull snake's behavior was identical to that described in the Wikipedia article on bull snakes.

How that little dog ever made it to age 16 is beyond me.