Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Re-Test

Cave Creek Regional Park Camp Site View
Dianne here...  (See, I do occasionally write when my nose isn't stuck in my computer doing genealogy)....

Once we knew we'd be traveling near Phoenix on our trip this summer, we decided that our dogs should have a refresher course on the rattlesnake avoidance training that we'd taken them to in April, 2013.   You can read all about that experience in our blog written at that time by clicking on this link: (This blog will show up on top, but scroll below to find the first rattlesnake training entry)

The importance of the decision for a refresher course for our dogs became very clear on our last night home at Retama Village before beginning our trip.   We had already moved into the motor home and were spending one last "wine-thirty" on our patio before heading north the next morning.   I noticed Tequila very interested in a small rock pile that was next to our patio.   Assuming she was doing her normal "lookin' for lizards" routine, I paid little attention.   Bandido then started barking and wanted outside, and ran over to where she was.   Both dogs were very interested in the rock pile.   All of a sudden I heard the unmistakable rattles of a rattle snake!    I looked over and saw the tip of the snake's tail rattling.   He was coiled up next to our fence, right beside the patio.   Roger and I grabbed both dogs and frantically shoved them back inside the house.  

There are no photos of this incident because we were too focused on getting our dogs (and ourselves) to safety.   Also, we were not yet back into blog-writing mode, so it didn't occur to us to document it.

When we went back outside we could not find the snake.   Roger went door to door to warn our closest neighbors to be on the lookout, and to watch their dogs.   Our neighborhood "trapper", Richard, was on vacation, but Roger made a few phone calls and found that the "backup trapper" in Richard's absence, Guy, had the snake equipment.
In our village, there are always people ready and eager to help.   In no time flat Guy and our friend Tim showed up in a golf cart, equipped and ready for action.

In the meantime, the snake had reappeared.  This time, it was in the middle of our driveway in front of the house, right next to our parked car.   It was coiled and staring at the car as if it were deciding which wheel to climb to get inside.  (Wouldn't THAT have given us a thrill when we hooked the car to the RV the next morning!)  Guy quickly caught the snake, put it in a closed-top bucket, and after a little show-and-tell to their wives back at home, the snake was relocated away from our neighborhood.   Thanks, Guy and Tim, for a job well done!!

After that close call, we were very glad we'd scheduled a return trip to Viper Voidance.   

Our home for our two nights' stay was at Cave Creek Regional Park, part of the Maricopa County park system, near Phoenix.   This is a return trip for us; we also stayed here in 2013, and shared a number of photos of the park in the above-linked blog.   Here's a link to RV Park Reviews' page for Cave Creek Regional Park, in case your travels bring you to the Phoenix area:  

It's a quiet, scenic, spacious campground and we were eager to visit it again.   We enjoy watching the Gambel's quail scurrying around our site...

The sunset wasn't too shabby either...

Love those desert sunsets!

Bright and early this morning, we put Bandido and Tequila into the car and drove the short distance to Viper Voidance.   We re-tested Bandido first:

Jim, the owner of Viper Voidance, put a shock collar on Bandido and he was let loose in a portion of Jim's property that contained a live, caged rattlesnake.   As we walked toward the cage, Bandido stopped and shyed away, just as we hoped he would do.   It was not necessary to shock him as a reminder.   We tested him again in another area of the yard with a different snake, and, once again, he was a very good boy and would not go near the snake.   It was obvious that he smelled the snake as he sniffed the air before turning away.   After a lot of "Good Boy!"s, the collar was removed and he waited in the car while it was Tequila's turn.  (We do think Bandido saved Roger from a rattle snake encounter in Salt Lake City a few years ago -- he refused to hike off the trail to a little bridge that Roger wanted to check out, and it was a prime rattle snake environment).

Now, we knew Tequila would be another matter.   She seems to have a much stronger prey drive than Bandido.   She is obsessed with lizards and all manner of creepy things.   Sure enough, as we repeated the test with Tequila, she went right up to the cage and Jim had to give her a not-so-gentle reminder using the shock collar.   I made a video of Tequila's encounter:

Here, then, is a video I took as we did part two near the second cage, to see if she'd learned her lesson:

To make sure, Jim then tossed a freshly-shed rattlesnake skin onto his driveway and we watched to see what Tequila would do:

There were a lot of "Good Girl!"s all around.   Hopefully she'll remember this training and be more cautious in the future.

No snakes!
After driving back to our camp site, we decided to take the dogs on a short hike (also documented in the prior blog from 2013).   No snakes encountered today.   Anti-venom treatment for a dog is very expensive, so prevention is worth way more than a pound of cure.   Many vets don't carry the anti-venom because of its expense and short shelf-life, so if you find yourself and your dog in this situation, call ahead to make sure your vet has the anti-venom on hand; if not, they'll be able to direct you to the nearest place that can help.  

From this short visit, we head tomorrow to a state park near Sedona, Arizona for a week of R and R, hiking, and sight-seeing in that area.

The pet photo of the day shows Tequila not approaching the snake skin that Jim had tossed in front of her in his driveway.   Good girl!

Snake skin re-test; Tequila would not go near it!

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