A walk on the wild side.
-Nelson Algren (1956)
Bailey does not like snakes. As we took our evening “stroll” down to the mailbox earlier this week, he startled at something in the ivy and sharply barked an alert. I say “barked”, rather I’d say he ROARED an alert. I’ve never heard such a tone from him, and it made me look. Tail aloft and rigid in attention, he was frozen in place, looking at something rustling in there. It was a snake! Probably 18 inches long, it was a striped garden-variety specimen, nothing to fear, but perhaps it brought back vague memories for him?
When he was a wee pup, we left him back at Kismet, the kennel from whence he came, as we drove Shannon up to college in the summer of 2004. It was like dog camp for him, cavorting with the other youngsters in the “puppy pen”.
The man who operates the kennel’s name is Guy, and he told us later that one evening he let the pups out for a final romp at night before they went to bed. He said he heard a lot of barking, but then when he heard yelping, he rushed out to find Bailey the brave (or dumb?) puppy, who had just been bitten on the nose by a copperhead as he defended the girl pups (cowering by the gate) against the large snake. Guy snatched Bailey up and called the emergency clinic; the folks there told him to give him Benadryl and put ice on his nose. Guy said he stayed up all night with Bailey in his lap, concerned that his nose would swell up and block his breathing. I remember he said, “I was more worried about him because he was YOUR dog, and not my own!” All’s well that ended well, and Bailey recovered physically.
But does he remember the incident? I do know that every time I uncoil the hose to water the plants, Mr. B. goes ballistic, and chomps away at the sinuous rubber tube. He growls and tugs, and has a grand old time shaking “the snake” into submission. As I sprinkled the dry plants today, I noticed a few pinhole leaks in the hose, thanks to somebody’s sharp teeth!
And so it was with a bit of trepidation that I saw this real live snake right by our driveway. I knew we weren’t in any danger, but I had a vision of Bailey’s going after it, and harming it. The snake was trying to kill a toad, which was almost comical, because the snake was so skinny, there was no way it was going to be able to consume the fat toad. I pulled Bailey away and kept going back to check on the situation. The snake eventually gave up, and I think the poor toad survived, because they were both gone after awhile.
Interestingly enough, it was only the day prior that I discovered a good-sized box turtle ambling down the driveway. I sometimes feel like we are running a reptile/amphibian farm or something, with all the snakes, turtles, toads, etc. not to mention the geckos, salamanders and lizards that are everywhere.
I guess that’s what happens when you live out in the “woods”, which is part of the charm of this place. To think that I live in the middle of a gigantic city and yet I can witness nature at its finest right in my own yard is pretty cool. I wouldn’t want to live any other way!