Monday, August 1, 2016

Setting Sammy Free

It is so hot and so dry during these Dog Days of Summer that there is little to do but retreat to the coolness of indoors until the sun finally begins to set each evening.
Even our athletic, fun loving, adventure loving dog is struggling in the heat.
One day last week I was in the garage when a vehicle pulled up in the driveway,
Inside the vehicle were two guys looking for directions.
After chatting easily with them for a few minutes the young man in the passenger seat pointed down to the ground close to me, motioning that he saw a snake.
Looking behind me I saw him and immediately fell into cringing girl mode.
Backing away from both the vehicle and the snake with a surprised yelp, I regarded the snake from a safe distance, feeling creeped out and disgusted while at the same time trying to decide whether or not he was a rattlesnake.
He was over two feet long and we all quickly decided that the slithering nasty that was slowly slithering in our direction was not a rattlesnake.
Gratified and relieved at that realization I told the guys I was going to run into the house to grab my camera.
When I came back outside I was surprised to see the guys still idling in the same place I had left them.
They were enthralled with this unexpected sighting.
Although I wasn't exactly enthralled with the snake, I was never-the-less curious to watch him.
(Thankfully) this was not something I witnessed every day............................
We all watched as the slithering beast slithered across the gravel, and then continued on his journey until disappearing underneath the SUV.
Good - he was headed across the street.
Away from me.  Away from the house.  Just...........away...................
Once he disappeared underneath the vehicle the guys smiled at their unexpected encounter, waved goodbye and drove away.
Once the vehicle was gone I fully expected to watch the snake continue on its disgusting journey across the road, until it disappeared into the grass on somebody elses property that wasn't mine.
Instead I watched in astonishment as it circled around and began to slither back towards me.
Oh geeze.
Go on somewhere!
Yup.  It was indeed coming back my way.
I did not want him in my yard.  I especially did not want him in my garage.
As he continued squirming his way in my direction I walked back into the garage, walked over to the door that leads into what will (hopefully) soon be our sunroom, and retrieved a straw broom from behind the door.
Walking back through the garage I peered outside to see where the darned thing had gone.
He was now in the gravel just outside the garage door and still headed my way.
Oh no you don't.
I pushed him with my broom trying to get him to change direction.
He stopped abruptly and partially coiled in self-defense at my unexpected attack.
He turned a little and I nudged him again with the broom.
Understandably, he liked neither me nor my broom..
But by the second nudge he did indeed make a 45 degree turn and began his slithering again - this time towards the front door of the house.
Cringing inside at this nasty creature, I slowly followed behind him, intent on monitoring his direction of travel.....................
When he finally covered the expanse of gravel, grass and weeds in front of the house he took a right turn close to the front door, and headed for the Tahoe.
The snake had been moving slowly, methodically and consistently from the moment I had seen him, but as soon as he reached the shade of the front of the Tahoe he stopped.
It was very hot and dry outside, and I could tell (as much as I could interpret snake behavior in my short relationship with this thing) that he was relieved to find a dark, cool spot in the world......................
I watched him for a minute, impatiently waiting for him to move on.
He stayed where he was.
Gently I nudged the nasty beast with my broom again but he was having none of it.
My new found snake had decided that this was where he wanted to stay.
Sighing inwardly I decided to head back into the house.
I was hot.  I was too hot and I needed to cool down.
LC and Kory were both power napping, and in that moment I decided to seek the coolness of the inside as well.
 I would tell LC about the snake when he woke up, and together we'd go back outside to check and see if he was still under the Tahoe.
Grossed out, I left snake to enjoy the shade....................
An hour later a rejuvenated LC and Kory and I  walked outside to the front of the house in search of a snake.
 He was no longer underneath the Tahoe.  
Looking underneath both the Suburban and truck I was pleased and gratified with the thought that a two and a half foot snake had finally decided to move on.
And then we saw him.
He had coiled himself up and was hunkered against the side of the house, presumably enjoying both the shade and the wall of the house that was cold from the combination of fans, swamp cooler and air conditioner that we were using in combination to keep the indoors cool.
As soon as she saw him Kory began to bark and lunged towards the slimy critter.
I grabbed her by the collar as she tried over and over to dive towards the snake.
Well...........that answered one question we had.  
Kory wasn't afraid of snakes (unfortunately). 
Quite the opposite.  Our dog wanted to rip it in half.
I held ballistic puppy back while LC walked into the garage to retrieve a long pole.
Still holding Kory back, I watched as LC played the same game I had played with Sammy.
Yes................we had not seen him in a couple of weeks, but LC identified THIS snake as being the same snake that had suddenly slithered unexpectedly out from under the palettes near the back door.
The same snake that had creeped me out weeks ago, and which we had not seen since that first time.
LC tried to nudge Sammy along.
He slithered through the gaps in the chain link fence and then began slithering across out side lawn.
Well damn.
That wasn't supposed to happen.
Still holding tightly to the collar of an hysterically barking dog I watched as LC walked through the gate and over to Sammy.
As LC nudged him again Sammy surprisingly began to coil himself around the pole.
LC and I looked at each other in surprise.
 Well OK....................that would work too.......................

We quickly came up with a plan.
LC would carry the snake-coiled-around-the-pole across the road and spring Sammy free.
At the same time I would take Kory into the back yard so she wouldn't see where the snake had gone.
A few minutes later LC came home empty handed.
Sammy had been set free to roam the huge empty field across the road from the house........................
Later that same day we all three drove a mile outside of town onto BLM land, and together we set our dog free to roam.
It was still hot.
Way too hot for being so late in the day, but Kory needed to run.
We had parked the Suburban in the middle of the trail, right in between two areas that LC and I had christened Bunny Holler and Rabbit Ridge sometime last year.
She could smell out bunnies, chase them, terrorize them, perhaps (likely not, but perhaps) kill one, and most likely be made a chump out of by numerous cotton-tailed critters as they continually ran and then doubled back, confusing the strong tracking nose of our pup.
Kory didn't care.
She did not care if she found one or not.
Did not care if she caught one and killed one or was made a chump of by one that doubled back and left her in the dirt.
Every single moment was pure joy and huge adventure, and it didn't matter that we had come to the same place on BLM land three nights in a row because it was too hot to go too far for too long.
She ran with pure joy.......................
Hot even late in the day.
And hazy from a combination of both heat and the smoke of endless wildfires that surrounded us.  
Five just in Idaho, but many others in every other western state.......................
LC - barely visible - in the center of the pictures.......................
I shaved this morning for precisely that reason. I was like, 'Well, you never know when someone is going to clamp down on your calf and try to suck out the snake poison.........John Green

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