Judging from the amount of e-mails and comments I got about Ottie the snake hunter, it’s clear he is way more popular than I am.
Moved by pity and maternal love, I spoiled him rotten during this last week. His fat face, the slanted eye and pain dulled by pills were too much for me not to respond to. Canned food has been added to his diet to make sure he would eat and the occasional night on the couch, usually a big no-no, has been allowed. I think he knows it and he is milking me for all he is got.
Last night I helped him on the couch where he moved with his paw one of the pillows, adjusted it to his liking and then proceeded to lie down, head resting on the pillow while I was looking on in amazement. Has he been observing me preparing for a nap?
After just over a week, the swelling has finally gone down and the two fangs punctures are developing scabs – if I touch them, he no longer yelps. He got into a row with Portia as to who was leading a squirrel chase which let me know it’s business as usual. I am hoping he learnt his lesson but I still found him with his head buried in a bunch of daisies this morning so I am not so sure. They say dogs have short memories but I would like to think he will always associate excruciating pain to the long slimy thing with a rattle.
Friends suggested I get rid of the snakes, that I build an enclosure or that I keep the dogs inside. I chose to live in the Los Angeles wilderness (how’s that for an oxymoron?) and I made a pact with the land that I should be respectful. That means kissing goodbye to the roses that deer eat for dinner, welcoming every Spring the birds that nest in my chimney and foregoing rat poison waiting for the snakes to take care of the problem. Hawks and mice and snakes and deer and coyotes and tarantulas and even mountain lions do not need me to mess with their eco-system. If I don’t like it, I can always rent an apartment in town.
I would be devastated to lose one of my dogs to a predator or a snake bite but all I can do is educate them, vaccinate them and hope for the best. In exchange, they enjoy long days of squirrel hunting, play dates with the horses and futile bird and lizard chases. They stay fit and have fun. And, while sleeping on the couch, they can dream of their adventures – I know they know how good they got it.