Four years later, we had gotten complacent, and we neglected the field where the dogs live. On Monday morning Dusty, our Black Lab, came in the house with a hugely swollen muzzle, crying with pain. We got him to the vet right away, yet his face and throat were even more swollen. To my horror, our vet diagnosed a snake bite, and he was put on IV medications. To my pleased surprise, Dusty healed very quickly; he came home just 24 hours later. He looked like a hippopotamus, and there were two sets of paired puncture wounds on his muzzle, but he was generally okay. I have given him his antibiotics buried in pieces of hot dog, which he loves, and the swelling has just about gone away. A country friend told us that muzzle snakebites are actually the least harmful; for some reason the swelling keeps the poison from getting to the internal organs. Who knew?
Even so, I consider this a serious warning to us transplanted city folks. I was tremendously upset that our carelessness had endangered a beloved pet. We know that we have to keep the brush cut and not have places where snakes can hide, yet we were not careful to keep up with the danger spots. I do not want another reminder to keep the place up! I could not bear to go through another dog incident, and I shudder to think of one of the horses being bitten.
"Nature red in tooth and claw" is a truism from some 19th century philosopher (I should know who said that), and, bottom line, truisms are true. I have been warned twice to take care; I pride myself on being a quick study. I shall not need another warning.
--and good things always come from bad: Daughter was a fount of warmth, support and comfort. She let me weep without judging; she offered no cloying cheer-up blather; and she called to check on Dusty and me just often enough to get me through a hard time. I am blessed--many thanks, Darling Girl.