Wednesday, August 29, 2007

:Insert dramatic photo here:


Woof woof.

Woof woof woof.

Ruby isn't a yappy kind of dog. One of the good traits of Boxer dogs is that they only bark when there is something to bark at - they bark almost exclusively to alert. Ok, sometimes they are alerting you to a dangerous carrier bag blowing in the wind, but better safe than sorry hey :)

So, when I heard Ruby's very definite "Mum! Mum! Something is wrong!" bark down in the bottom of the quarry, I pricked up my ears. It continued for a little while, so I went to the door and shouted to her.


Woof woof.

Woof woof woof.

(I didn't shout the woofs, I shouted words, she barked back. Just incase you were confused).

I had a friend over at the time, and as I pulled on my shoes I said "Sorry, it's just that it definitely sounds like there's something wrong - I'd better go and check ... " I felt like a bit of an idiot saying it to be honest. Ruby isn't known for her Lassie-esque heroic exploits.


Woof woof.

Woof woof woof.

I was calling reassurance to Ruby as I walked down to the area of long grass, and each time I called, she barked back, the same urgent bark.

And then I saw it.

Ruby was circling the biggest snake I have seen outside of a zoo.

It was coiled, head raised a good six or eight inches above the ground, hissing and spitting at her as she barked at it. Instant adrenaline. Ruby has a heart condition and I knew that if it was an adder then her chances of surviving a bite were pretty much none. I couldn't get near enough to her to grab her collar without risking both of us being bitten, and the snake was looking even more pissed off about the arrival of a human ... eek!

For the first time since I moved here I was grateful that the place is half paradise / half junkyard. There is a derelict cottage not far from where we were standing and the rubble and rubbish from the building collapse and subsequent fly tipping has created a sprawl of junk that spreads in the wind and had conspired to leave a piece of some sort of rubbery roofing stuff about a foot and a half square just a couple of meters from where I was standing.

As I went to grab it I found my right hand patting my pocket where my phone/camera lives, and I actually contemplated taking a photo so that I could blog it. Taking a photo so that I could identify it might have been a good idea - especially as the current environmental survey here is counting snakes and the lovely ecologists who visit would have been absolutely thrilled ... but no, my only thought was that it was very very bloggable! More adrenaline fuelled a quick decision to abandon the photo idea.

I chucked the black square over the top of the snake from behind, and instantly Ruby was calm and controllable and we walked back up to the house, where I promptly got the shakes, cried a bit and drank quite a lot of tea.

It wasn't the snake itself - if it had just been me I would definitely have taken photos and enjoyed the adventure. It was the fact that my baby nearly got bitten by a snake!. It reminded me of a moment the previous day when had seen a man burst into tears on the tube after his little boy pressed the "Open doors" button as we were hurtling down the tunnel. I had watched the boy doing it, knowing full well that the doors would not open, but clearly his father had not had this confidence. The boy couldn't understand why his dad was holding him so tightly afterwards, and I'm sure Ruby was similarly bemused at my squeezes.

At over 2 ft long, the snake was almost certainly a grass snake, we'd have been very unlucky to be bitten at all and the consequences probably wouldn't have been that serious. It had a distinct cucumber shaped bulge half way along it's body(which luckily, was not one of Badger's cucumbers, she'd have been very cross!) so it obviously did present a danger to some of the local inhabitants, just not us.


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Blogger Misssy M said...

Oh my god- a snake! I'm shouting at my dog, "Why can't you find a snake eh?". He does do a good line in finding leaves and used nappies though....but then he's only been out walking for two weeks (He's 13 weeks old). I am excited to think of the reptilian wonders he may find now that I've read your post.

Poor show on the photo though, Misssy Stray. Must get priorities right!

29 August, 2007 11:34  
Anonymous trousers said...

Wow, it all happens in your back garden doesn't it! Glad to hear Ruby's safe and sound.

I loved the photos on the previous post too.

29 August, 2007 18:38  
Anonymous l-q-s said...

Am very glad Ruby's ok. And snake lovers and ecologists can say what they like (obviously!) but the only reason I can think of to never leave Ireland is that there are no snakes here outisde of zoos. This is entirely a good thing in my book! *shudders*

I'd say tea and Ruby squeezes were absolutely the right thing to do. :)

29 August, 2007 18:41  
Blogger Jon M said...

Cor! A real live snake! Not sure what the Gorehounds would have done, probably bounced about a lot and wagged their tails until I'd been bitten then laugh a lot! Glad Ruby was fine and you didn't kill the snake either!
Result! :-)

29 August, 2007 19:31  
Blogger PurpleSparkleBright said...

OMG I'm sweating after reading that (doing some blog catch up today) Glad Ruby is ok :)

01 September, 2007 15:26  

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