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Friday, May 31 2013

     Thus began the initial heated argument between two otherwise intelligent adults. Other Half, not wanting to face the horrible possibility of losing Dillon, insisted that the marks on Dillon's nose were caused from leaping into the barbed wire fence. Me, ever the "let's face the worst case scenario head on and deal with it", insisted that Dillon WAS BITTEN by the rattlesnake and needed to get to the vet immediately.  I refused to even entertain the idea of dilly-dallying around waiting to see if Dillon swelled up and died.

So after a quick search for the vet's phone number, and a text to Dear Friend Kim, we bounced off down the road with a confused Lily, a terrified Trace, and poor Dillon, who was already beginning to swell. I tried to call the vet's office (with the ad that says they answer the phone 24/7), but our phone reception was so bad that I couldn't get the call out. I tried to call Dear Friend Kim. She answered immediately. Which direction to go? South toward the 24/7 vet that I couldn't reach on the phone or north toward Kim and her vet. Through broken cell phone reception, she advised north. North it was. I glanced at Dillon. There was no denying it now. No barbed wire did this. His head looked like a Shar Pei and was quickly approaching Bull Terrier.

    Because text messages were going through but cell reception was not, Kim called her vet to tell him we were en route. He didn't return her page. We got to an area where we could get cell service and paged him too. No return call, but we chose to just drive there anyway. Thirty minutes had gone by and we were sitting in the clinic driveway. It was now dark. No one was home. No one was at the clinic. Called Kim again. She had drugs on hand for this occasion. In the country, sometimes you have to be your own vet. Even the vets knew this, so her vet had made her an emergency snakebit kit with the necessary drugs.

     So we drove toward Kim. Another 25 minutes. She met us on the highway and we drove to her ranch. Dillon's entire head was swelling. Other Half shot Dillon up with dexamethasone and epinephrine and we took additional drugs to get him through the next day or two. Dillon's head was alarmingly large, but he was still breathing and that was the important thing. He had had the rattlesnake vaccine last spring and was due for another. I kicked myself for not updating it before this spring. Now we just had to trust that it would work. And pray. I did a lot of praying. We had gotten drugs into Dillon within 2 hours of the bite. Hopefully that would do it.

     So we took him back home and thus began his night of D-Dog hell. Dillon was in pain. He wanted to sleep, but his head hurt so much that he didn't want it to even touch the floor and wouldn't sleep in bed with us.(you KNOW he's sick then) He slept with his head in the air. We set our clock for 3:00 AM and gave him more drugs. By 6:00 AM he was better. By 8:30 AM, he was his happy self again. The swelling had gone down some, and he was clearly gonna make it. 

     When the sun was high, we drove to town to buy an additional security light and a push mower. The plan was to create a safe "potty area" that I could walk (with my Henry rifle) prior to letting the dogs out for a bathroom break. So I mowed for several hours that afternoon and six more hours the next day. We saw three more snakes but they were non-poisonous.  The snakes were definitely on the move this Memorial Day weekend. 

     I didn't rest easy until we'd given the dogs their final potty break and loaded them up in the truck to head back south. The people who live here full time take this in stride. They keep drugs on hand in case, or they just let the dogs take their chances.  I look at Dillon's happy little face and know that this isn't the last time he's gonna get bitten by a snake. He's a Labrador, it's in his DNA. The best I can do is protect him from himself, keep his rattlesnake vaccine up to date, and keep lots of drugs on hand.


Note: It turned out that the vet was camping in an area with shoddy cell phone reception and didn't get our pages until the next morning. By then Dillon was already his happy D-Dog self again.

   (Actual sign at the San Antonio Police Academy)


Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:01 am   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
Thank God the vet was practical enough to make sure his clients have rattlesnake bite kits! I'm so glad it worked out well with Dillon. This is the first I've heard of a rattlesnake vaccine, and it's something I'll look into. We have them here. Is there an equivalent kit for horses, I wonder?
Posted by Jane Clancy on 05/31/2013 - 11:46 PM
wow, sure glad that the snakes i see are only harmless garter snakes in the yard! poor Dillon, he musta been miserable, not to mention how you and Other Half were feeling! glad he's ok.
Posted by clairesmum on 06/01/2013 - 09:22 AM
Are there any worries about blood chemistry issues, clotting and such things?
Posted by ERic on 06/01/2013 - 11:27 AM
Hi, coming out of lurking. So very glad that Dillon made it through! Have you looked into snake avoidance training for the pack that goes to the ranch with you? There are several classes/clinics in Texas and from what I can see, they work. Some even offer different sorts of snakes (rattlers, coppers, cottons). Just Google Snake Avoidance Dogs Texas and you'll surely find a class near you. Good luck, how scary for you all!
Posted by Carla on 06/01/2013 - 06:58 PM
Yes, we are looking at snake aversion clinics for all the ranch dogs. Except maybe Trace who is already scared shitless of snakes. Dillon most certainly needs it. I have no doubt that he would stick his nose right into a rattler again.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 06/02/2013 - 10:13 AM
And Jane, YES they DO have the vaccine for horses and we will be giving the ranch horses their shots before they go north again. Musket, the roan, and Montoya, the Andalusian cross, are the two candidates most likely to get bitten. Too curious for their own good.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 06/02/2013 - 10:15 AM
Eric, I don't know. Haven't heard or read anything. Although Dillon swelled, we haven't had any skin or hide sloughing off. Looking at him today you cannot even tell he was bitten by a rattlesnake. That definitely made a believer out of me.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 06/02/2013 - 10:20 AM

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