a tale of tails, tenacity, and tedium, as told by me, usually barefoot and bellowing

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Snake Alert! Retraining The Dogs

Farm dogs have certain jobs.  Sometimes those jobs are sad but necessary for the continuance of life on a farm.  Can't have 'possums, skunks or 'coons in the chicken house and can't have armadillos digging holes for stock to break their legs in. We can't have poison snakes close to the house to bite unaware children and busy adults.  It is what it is.

The trained farm team choose snakes by smell.  Poison snakes, or pit vipers, have a very distinct smell.  The dogs eradicated the dangerous and left the harmless snakes alone.  Last year the dogs cornered a huge non-poisonous snake consuming all life available in my water garden.  This snake made the mistake when cornered of striking out and biting one of the dogs.  It was over in seconds. They didn't care about my rules one smidgen.  Their rules in that moment...if it bites my friend, it's gone.  I was not happy but you can't reassemble a snake.

Yesterday I found a harmless young snake about three feet long.  It was terrified.
Lizzy inspected as I told her no.
Poor snake was horrified and frozen in fear...good thing for it.
The hardest one to convince was Lil, our matriarch of snake watch.  Oh, she wanted to do her job so badly!  I kept saying, No, Lil.  It's a good snake.  Lil didn't like it but the dogs got a good smell and left it.  I'm hoping this will redirect them to eliminating only the poison snakes once again.

18 comments:

Adam said...

Aren't they putting poor mongooses out of a job?


Seriously, I always wonder how well they can take down snakes. But if dogs can, I suppose they can too

Farm Girl said...

Well I think I would like to have your dogs come visit. I need some varmints taken care of too.

Gorges Smythe said...

We never let our dogs kill ANY snake. The good ones we want and we were always afraid the bad ones might get in a bite before they "bite the dust."

Sandra said...

Jakes motto is if if moves its mine... we have to guard our good black snakes.. this one is really a nice looking snake.. it is odd they know the difference but good for the snakes.. what about rodents, the snakes eat rodents, do the dogs get them to? like rats i mean?

Magaly Guerrero said...

I had no idea dogs could be trained to differentiate between between poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes. That's fascinating information, Gail. Like you said, it's a sad but necessary job. So glad you were able to keep Lil from the nonpoisonous snake.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I am glad we only see garter snakes or rat snakes here. But, I miss having a dog to chase the squirrels away.
Your dogs are very smart!

Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and the weekend ahead!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's amazing they can tell the difference by smell. Yeah, you want those good snakes around, like king and rat snakes, because they eat the vermin.

LindaG said...

I can certainly understand wanting to kill it after it bit.

Great photos. Hope your retraining session went well!

Ginny Hartzler said...

Your dogs are smart and well trained! I am terrified of snakes. So they can small the ones that are poison, that is so interesting to me. How is the dog that was bitten? I know we would like an update.

TexWisGirl said...

i don't think my dogs differentiate. although they definitely know a copperhead is more dangerous and they avoid them now and call for back-up (me.)

Gail said...

Ginny, the dogs have been bitten by poison and non-poison snakes. Have never lost a dog. Copperheads rarely kill a dog but a rattlesnake can.

Michelle said...

Our dogs kill snakes every now and again. It always worries me!

McGuffy Ann Morris said...

I have read that some snakes have a musty or musky smell, including some nonvenomous ones. I know how critical dogs are on a farm. You rely on them, as they do you.

Debbie said...

awwww pups that listen, good for all involved!!!!

Sandy said...

Well trained dogs, can I borrow them. We have a copperhead family living in my garden.

Lee said...

I really, really hate snakes!

Judy said...

Interesting that the dogs can differentiate between snakes...luckily we only have one type of poisonous snake in Michigan. That's plenty for me...

Susan Anderson said...

I knew dogs were intelligent, but their ability to tell the difference is pretty amazing.

=)

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