Tuesday, March 27, 2012

# 236 - Snake in the House!

We had an interesting happening this past week. Deputy Dave and I were sitting on the loveseat in our living room with the dogs laying all over us; it was a nice moment of trying to give the dogs some needed attention. All week long I'd been so busy that we'd not even had time to play a game of ball with the dogs, and Howdy can play ball for two straight hours; it's serious business around here. Even so, the dogs were so good all week, as if they sensed a problem and tried to be on their best behavior, so we were giving them lots of cuddle time while watching the big screen tv.

Stefie comes shuffling into the room with her stiff posture from her back being hurt. As she walked toward us in the living room, she looked down at the floor and said, "A WORM!"

In the span of the next few seconds, we were puzzled. Yes, we have chickens and I'd been feeding the chickens a treat of worms purchased from the fishing section of Walmart. The night before, Stefie had stood by as I poked holes in the top of the worm container. The worm container was sitting just a few feet away from us, on the kitchen serving bar. As her eyes widened at the sight of this worm in our house, I imagined that I had poked a hole too big in the container, allowing a worm to escape.

Even with a stiff back, Stefie's country-girl side took over and with an erect back and awkward posture, she knelt down to pick up the worm. She hadn't even given the urge to pick up that worm a second thought, she was doing what came naturally to her. Get the worm.

Suddenly, as her fingers were about two inches from picking up the worm, she looked up at us with a shocked, yet guarded expression. Then, she calmly said, "Oh, this is not a worm, this is a snake."

I know she was very concerned because her dad is NOT a fan of snakes, not at all. The coffee table was blocking our view of the snake, the table lay between us sitting on the loveseat and Stefie kneeling over the snake.

Immediately, we jumped into action and Stefie let out a little squeal as the snake began to quickly slither on the tile floor toward the chest against the wall that holds our television components. All of our voices and body language went up a few notches.

Get the snake.

Howdy, our Aussie, had obviously taken note of our tone of voice, our alarm and our body language. In two seconds flat, he ran to Stefie's side and took the snake in his jaws. At this point, our living room is in chaos.

I yell, "DROP IT!"

This is a regular command for the dogs at our house. Howdy knows this command.
I had no idea if this snake was poisonous, but Howdy listened, immediately. The good thing about Howdy is that when my voice is with conviction, he heeds my words. Without hesitation, he twisted toward me and dropped the snake from his jaw and looked to me for instruction while swinging his head wildly the opposite direction to also keep the slithering snake in his view.

Meanwhile, Deputy Dave had decided that he couldn't start shooting the snake while inside the house, so he ran for the broom and dustpan. The snake was about a foot long and quickly making its way toward the cover of the cedar chest.

I had hit the point of saying aghast, "I can't believe we've been sitting in the living room this entire time WITH a snake close to us!"


Deputy Dave swept the snake into the deep dustpan and high-tailed it to the front yard for release. Turns out, it was a grass snake. A healthy grass snake. Still, it's a snake and I don't like them in my house. Obviously, Howdy grasped the snake in his jaws just enough to pick it up, but not kill it. The snake appeared unharmed.

By the way, this is the second episode we've had with a snake in our house and I'll have to tell about the first experience on another day. It was beyond creepy.

I wondered for a moment...How many critters will intrude into our house once we're in the country?

Another question I pondered was the one with Howdy. It was obvious that he is definitely on-task with picking up verbal ques and body language to pounce upon the danger at hand, without hesitation. He is ready to defend, to rescue, or to come to our aid. The problem is...I've got to teach him to not rush to attack a snake or other animal that he perceives as a threat to the ones he loves. He is so in tune with our body language and tone of voice that it takes little to bring him to heightened attention.

I initially felt great concern as Howdy dropped the snake from his jaws because the motion caused him to fling a huge line of slobber across the room, as if his saliva glands went into high production. It did not seem to be an appealing moment for him, but he stood over the snake, watching it slither across the tile, and I could tell that this dog was determined to stop that snake. He then lunged forward with his huge claws to attempt to stop the snake from moving, he will pin things to the ground with his paws or with his entire body, so I had to again tell him to stop. But, he kept his body aligned with the snake as it wiggled on the tile for cover.

We were all relieved once Deputy Dave quickly scooped up the snake and escorted it out of the house.

The most funny moment of all was when Stefie realized that her fingers were within two inches of picking of the "worm." That girl has no fear at times because she was raised fishing, and she played with worms enthusiastically. She spent much of her life in the country.

If she stops to think about what she's doing, she'll be less inclined to approach the creepy crawler, but her auto-pilot is driven toward being unafraid of nature. These days, her lack of excitement toward country life has to do with wanting the luxuries of a real house. Since she was a child, we've been going to our acreage and she savored the exploration and fun that being on raw land offers; however, at her age of 21 today, she savors a fully working bathroom, air-conditioning and a stocked kitchen with a microwave.

Regardless of the little luxuries on our acreage, I believe she will still gravitate toward the worms. I hope she doesn't ever lose that side to her. Worms should never cease to be intriguing. The child in all of us should continue to be magnetized toward nature.

Nature holds me captive. I surrender.


LindaG said...

I have been emailing with Gail because she has trained her dogs which snakes are bad and which are good. She was explaining to me how to do it.

According to my hubby, they had a nest of copperheads under the porch one summer when he was growing up.

And there was the king snake in the hallway of the farmhouse in 2008 when we first went to the farm.

He won't kill any snake if he can help it, though, because mice and rats are a big problem with all the farming around us (and with not being able to mow so much yet).

I have a lot to learn about training dogs.

Have a great evening!

Stew said...

That's pretty high on the creepy scale.
And you know, I deal with creepy every day.

The Orange Jeep Dad said...

Um, I don't think the snake would have lasted in my presence. My fight or flight would have kicked in and I would have smashed it with something

I fall back on our family farm when I was a kid. Whether it was my Grandma or uncles, they typically went for head removal with a shovel if not shotgun.

Not saying it's right, just what I was raised with. Glad everyone is ok.

Karen said...

Oh, Lana, I'm so glad the snake wasn't poisonous. What a good dog you have there, loyalty and courage and love all in one package.

Snakes aren't real plentiful around here, though as a kid we did have big black ones that lived under the chicken coop. They didn't harm anyone, but my brother loved to chase me around with one wrapped around his arm. My mother put her foot down when he brought the chase into the house.

You are all so brave!

Rae said...

:) I've always been a fan of snakes, though I've always lived where there really weren't many poisonous snakes. I don't envy you that, where you live. Glad this one wasn't poisonous!

Your pup is such a good boy! Henry likes to roll on snakes when he finds them. Ew.

Remember that the good snakes (king, gopher, garter, etc) are great to have around for rodents! When I was a kid, we'd keep a pillow case in the car. During fall evenings, when it had been warm during the day, but was cool at night, the snakes would come up on the road for the warmth. My dad would pull the car over and I'd hop out to pick up the king or gopher snake and stuff it in the sack. We'd take them home and let them go in the barn or the garden. Bet that story makes Deputy Dave cringe. :) said...

Linda - I hope to train the dogs to stay away from snakes. We have too many poisonous snakes on our acreage. We do have many, many rat snakes that are HUGE and well fed, they take their time lumbering about because they are so large, they move slow. Fine with me. We leave those alone, they are doing a great job at keeping the vermin to a minimum. I'll have to make sure Howdy keeps his commands clear and I might go to dollar store and get play snakes to do some training. I'd rather him just stand clear of snakes. On our land, if Deputy Dave comes across a poisonous snake, it has met the end of its days. Since we can encounter a problem with high numbers, we must control snake population on our land. It's scary!

Stew -- it was creepy, but you have me beat on the creepy-scale. That is for sure. Driving dead bodies around is not for the faint of heart.

The Orange Jeep Dad - I think your instincts are simply survival mode instincts. Here in Texas, we don't mess around with snakes...especially in the area of our land because they are plentiful. I don't blame you for running for the gun or the shovel. The shovel, around here, is a marvelous tool!

Karen -- Being chased around with a snake by your brother is pure torture! I hope you got in a few sly attacks of your own. As for Howdy, he's loyal to the bone! Each day he gets older, he becomes more in tune to us and more adept at handling situations as he sees fit. He is an action dog, that's for sure. He won't stand by and watch as you struggle, he wants to help.

Rae -- our area has many cottomouths/black mocassins. In fact, I just watched an "I Survived" episode where a boy was bit by a cottonmouth just down the street from our acreage. It was bad. But, we do leave the critter killing snakes alone. They have an important job to do and I am glad for it. It's funny that you mention the road, we often see poisonous snakes in the road (near our land) and we know of some people who had their tires punctured by the snake's fangs as they rolled a tire over the snake. We try to avoid them. But, I can see how it would be a great opportunity to catch one, as they are wiggling across the road. Geez, your folks must have been fun! That was a good idea to bring them back to the barn. Anyway, I'm glad to see you around again. Life sometimes gets in the way of things we would like to do --- keep checking in whenever you can and keep us updated on your ducks.


Michelle said...

My dog would want to play with it. My father- in -law lives in the country. He has more problems with spiders then he does with snakes.

The Inspector Incorporated said...

Professional Property Inspections

Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often...