Tobie meets a bull snake

At last! All spring, bull snakes were more common in the yard than I’ve ever seen them – one time there were actually three within sight at one time, and they’re not really all that sociable. Then just as Tobie started settling in and I needed one to answer the very important question, “is Tobie a natural snake avoider or are we going to have problems here,” they all went away. For over a month I haven’t seen a single one.

Until this afternoon. I stepped out on the porch and there was a good-sized snake just stretched out motionless on the dirt for absolutely no good reason*. I dropped what I had been doing and suited Tobie up in his harness and shock collar, and took him outside on the short leash to meet the snake.

And the idiot stood there, practically stepping on it, waiting for me to tell him why we were suddenly there. I kept trying to direct his eyes toward the snake, and he’d just wait till I let go and resume staring into space. It was like trying to explain Nietzsche to a 4-year-old. Finally he looked down and said, “Oh! A new friend!”

Two things happened simultaneously: The snake, which had remained completely still through all this, suddenly rethought all its life priorities and decided to check out doings in El Paso. The most direct path thence was right between Tobie’s paws, from my POV it really looked as though the snake was attacking him. And the second thing was my thumb mashed the Big Red Button on the collar transmitter.

People actually pay money for snake aversion therapy for their dogs, and (from the description I’ve heard) it consists entirely of putting a shock collar on a dog, exposing the dog to a snake in a box, and then shocking the hell out of the dog when it leans in for a sniff. I figure I can do that myself with no more than sunk costs.

So anyway: We’ve established that Tobie, like Torso Boy before him, is not naturally snake averse. More’s the pity. Also, Tobie has received his first snake aversion therapy session. It didn’t last long, because the snake was really fast.


*They do this; it’s as though they think they have no natural enemies. It works out especially poorly for them when they choose to do it in the middle of a road. You can be barreling along, thinking that’s a stick in the road until you’re on top of it and can’t do anything to safely avoid it – next thing you know the snake’s raven food.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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4 Responses to Tobie meets a bull snake

  1. Jean says:

    When Ruger was a pup, I caught a two foot long bull snake. Holding the snake, I showed it to Ruger. The snake, already in fear because I had picked it up, struck at Ruger. He jumped about 2 feet up and back. The snake scared the him good.

    I don’t know if this technique would be helpful to Tobie.

    Ruger is 4 years old now. He growls at snakes but won’t go near them.

  2. Joel says:

    The only bull snakes I’ve seen try to strike are the really little ones. Once they get 3-4 feet long they slither away or just ignore you. The little ones tend to be nervous and hostile. I’ve been looking for one for the past month, for that very purpose.

    I’ve seen two dogs struck by rattlers since I moved here and rather surprisingly they both lived. But one swelled up grotesquely and I think only antivenom saved her. That was when there was still a vet in the little town about 35 miles away, which hasn’t been true for quite a long time now. The other was just sick and sad for a day and a night. I don’t think he got much of a dose.

  3. John in Philly says:

    We were biking on a canal towpath in Jersey last year and I noticed that the stick just ahead began to move.
    We were past it before I processed the thought that moving stick equals snake.

  4. mattexian says:

    I was biking along an oilfield road and spotted what I thought was an old bicycle inner tube in the middle of the road. Then it started moving! (Around here that’s generally a cottonmouth.) It zigged while I zagged, and we both lived to tell the tale.

To the stake with the heretic!