Dog trains man

Friday, May 19, 2017

Snake Encounters, A Narrow Escape

Nobody got hurt and Tilde is fine.

Our latest encounter with a viper, the only venomous snake in Denmark, almost went terribly wrong. I hadn't noticed the snake until it already was too late. It was warming itself in the morning sun, still sluggish, and didn't move out of our way in time, what it normally would have done.

At the same moment my eye caught the viper, Tilde already stepped on it and I noticed her surprise when she realized something was wrong and looked down to see what it was she had stepped on. The viper lashed out at her immediately. In what seemed to be a cat-like reflex, Tilde jumped backwards.

I couldn't see if the snake had managed to bite Tilde or not, or if her jump backwards had saved her. It all seemed to happen in the exact same moment. A cascade of reflexes fast forwarding in a lightning speed, in just some fractions of a second, almost too fast for me to record the details with the naked eye. I rushed to see if I could find a bite mark on Tilde's front, the area the snake had aimed at. I checked her face, her chest, down her legs and finally her paws. I couldn't find anything.

Not sure what to do, I picked up Tilde and carried her home, just in case she was bitten and I couldn't find the exact spot. The venom would spread slower if I carried her than when I would let her move herself. We had just started our walk and luckily we weren't that far from where we live. Soon we returned home, and I gave her a more thorough examination for bite marks and swellings and if there was anything else I could notice. Tilde seemed fine.

Although she seemed fine, I called to the nearest local veterinarian nonetheless and talked her through what happened. She advised me to keep a close eye on Tilde and keep inspecting her for swellings and bite marks during the day. She told me it isn't uncommon, depending on the type of bite and the individual dog, if symptoms first reveal themselves later during the day.

Half an hour had passed since the incident. If it would have been a severe venomous bite, swellings would have shown themselves by now. I kept on checking Tilde regularly for the rest of the morning, constantly reminded about how thick that Hovawart fur actually is and how difficult it is to be sure. At the end of the morning, I made my first sigh of relief. Tilde was still fine.

Tilde's reflexes had saved her, the snake's attempt to bite her had failed. Maybe the snake-aversion training we did helped too in her response, although I doubt that considering what she did with our training subject. There is no doubt though the fact that the snake was still sluggish this early in the morning had played a role too. We made a narrow escape. I bless Tilde for her reflex and the speed of it, and for jumping backwards. Something Kenzo would never have done. Stand your ground or go forward was his motto. Tilde's response to the situation made all the difference.

I accept the risks we have to deal with by living here. Tilde lives in a dog's paradise. I will not change that. To me there are no safe zones either, there is always something that can hurt you. We can't live in a bubble. To live is to run risks. But when you make a narrow escape, you also realize, how the world would have come tumbling down when something would have happened to her. It was a scare, and that's good. It keeps us on our toes, it forces us to be more vigilant - somehow - going forward.



  1. Wow! I'm so glad everything seems to be okay. Tori has a natural / instinctual leap like that when she even sees a snake. I watch for snakes the best I can, but it's good to have Tori who seems to spot them much faster / easier.

  2. Whoa! Thank goodness you're both alright. That's a scary moment, and one that could happen to any of us. It's a good reminder to all of us to keep our eyes open for dangers on the trail.


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