Brian and I were walking in the garden night before last. I was barefoot. I do that a lot. Well, I used to. Not anymore!! Anyway, we picked strawberries, green beans, onions, and yellow squash. We were about to head to the potato bed and our large Black Lab/Great Dane mix, Tank, was in front of us.
All of the sudden, he jumped, yelped, and instantly vomited. We were shocked! I went to check on Tank, who was quickly walking away. Brian stepped forward, and found the problem. Just a few feet in front of us was a Copperhead. I screamed for Mason, and got Tank into the basement. Mason found the bite wound right away because Tank licked his hand, and left blood behind. The bite was on his lip.
Brian hollered that he needed the hoe. It was in the storage shed on the other side of the property so I instead raced into the garage, found a heavy-duty rake, and threw it down the hill to Brian. A minute later, Brian ran in with a Home Depot bucket. The lid was on. I knew we had to take the dead snake with us for positive identification.
Mason and I got Tank into the truck. I ran for my purse and the keys. Brian threw the bucket in the back, and jumped into the passenger seat. I hollered at Mason to grab my glasses. He did so, lightning fast. I threw the truck into reverse, and took off down the driveway. Sliding the glasses on my face, I realized that Mason had grabbed my reading glasses. I am legally blind without my glasses but I had to drive while Brian was on the phone with the emergency vet. I have never driven so fast down our dirt road!
Tank was bouncing around in the back seat, seemingly oblivious about what was happening to him. His face was swelling, and FAST. The emergency vet is 40 minutes away, in Chattanooga. They told Brian to pull up under the overhang when we arrived and that they’d run out and grab Tank.
After Brian got off the phone, I screeched to a halt on the side of the road and we traded places. I couldn’t see the road with my reading glasses on. Brian was previously a police officer, and trained to drive fast safely, even in car chases. And, he DID drive fast. Thank the good Lord that Interstate 24 didn’t have any traffic that time of night! We passed a cop at one point. I guess he figured he couldn’t catch us. He didn’t follow us.
We arrived at the vet’s office and, as promised, they ran out, grabbed Tank’s leash, and took him back to get to work on him. The doctor on duty that night was their snake expert. We were VERY happy to hear about that! She came out, asking to see the snake. Brian took her outside, and pulled the lid off the Home Depot bucket.
The snake was still alive! I didn’t know that Brian had simply pinned the snake with the rake, picked it up WITH HIS BARE HANDS, carried it up to our garage, and dropped it into the bucket. The vet confirmed it was a Copperhead, and told Brian he was the first person to ever bring a LIVE snake to their office after a bite.
From the waiting room, they asked us if we wanted to come into “the room,” which we assumed meant the room Tank was in. You know, like a normal vet’s office. They took us to a room that was empty except for a desk and two chairs. Not what we were were expecting. We sat by ourselves for about 45 minutes. I started crying. I thought they were going to come in and tell us Tank didn’t make it. Brian was obviously very upset as well. Mason texted me for an update. He’d been left behind with our other dog and he was otherwise by himself. Tank is his best buddy and he was so worried. He said he Googled it and, if a dog gets bit in the mouth, there’s only a 10% chance of survival. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But, I reminded him that Tank had gotten bit on the lip, not inside the mouth.
After an excruciating wait, the vet came in, and said it was definitely a snake bite (they have to confirm that before giving him antivenom), and showed us a picture of how his red blood cells were reacting to the venom.
She then calmly pulled out paperwork, and had us initial and sign this, that, and the other, including the estimate, which was $2800-$3400 depending on what needed to be done.
I said, “Wait… You haven’t given him the antivenom yet?!” We’d been there for about an hour by that time. I admit that I flipped out at that point. She said, “We needed to do the paperwork, and get payment before we can do that.”
I grabbed my credit card, and said, “Take it!”
We quickly walked out of that room, towards the reception desk. I thrust my card at the woman there. She snarkily said, “You wouldn’t believe how many people’s credit cards don’t work.”
I said, “MINE WORKS! RUN IT!” It did. But, the vet was still standing there. I turned to her, “IT WORKED! GO START THE ANTIVENOM!!!” She hurried away.
I was SO ANGRY!!!!
There was nothing else we could do at that point so we drove home. I was worried about Tank dying. Brian was, too, but he was also worried about Tank being in a strange place, away from family. I reminded him that Tank has never met a stranger. He loves EVERYBODY and he doesn’t care who is petting him.
The vets office called a couple of hours later. The antivenom was working and the swelling was quickly going down. They said he was zonked out on pain meds. Apparently, Copperhead bites are very painful. We received a text update at 7:00 the next morning telling us he was still doing well, and had eaten and drank. Then, they called at 9:00 saying we could pick him up!!
Brian and Mason drove to get him. Isn’t this a sweet picture??? 🙂
The swelling in his face headed south due to gravity and he now has what I’m calling a gobbler neck.
Tank is moving slowly but he’s in good spirits and he is very happy to be home with his best bud, Mason. He’s also still on pain meds so he’s acting a little dopey.
What did we learn this week?
- NEVER go into the garden barefoot. Rather, everyone in the family needs snake boots. All the guys have them. I’m going shopping for a pair for me next week.
- NEVER assume there isn’t a snake in the grass.
- NEVER assume there isn’t a snake in one of the garden beds when you’re reaching in for peas, beans, or whatever.
- Had it been a rattlesnake (we have those, too) instead of a Copperhead, Tank might not have made it.
- Many dogs in our neighborhood have been bitten by Copperheads. I had no idea until I alerted our neighbor and she alerted others, and people started texting me.
We will be FAR more diligent in the future when we are outside. No more letting the grandkids run out the door and into the yard unless an adult has checked the yard first. Just because there isn’t brush in a certain part of the yard doesn’t mean a snake isn’t curled up in that sunny spot!
You can see a picture of the rattlesnake Brian killed a few months ago in THIS POST. That snake WAS hiding in the brush.
Oh, and the Copperhead is now dead. Brian killed it with the hoe when we got home.
DON’T FORGET! The Summer, 24-Hour Short Story Contest is only 1 week away!
- The Monster Hiding in Our Garden…
- PARVO UPDATE: Tank is Doing Better!
- Our New Puppy Died After Just Four Days…
- Only One Day to Crate Train Tank the Dog!
- Tank the Dog vs. GIANT Carpenter Bees
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