EP 17: Backyard Dogs, Rattlesnakes and Visits to the Emergency Vet in Tucson, AZ

 Backyard Dogs, Rattlesnakes and Visits to the Emergency Vet in Tucson, AZ

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Rattlesnake bites can happen in a fenced backyard.
  • Snake-proofing your backyard isn’t a guarantee you won’t have a rattlesnake in your backyard.
  • Rattlesnake aversion training, properly done, will protect your dogs and by extension, will also protect you.
  • Rattlesnake bites can vary in intensity based on several factors, including where on the dog’s body the bite occurs.
  • How to recognize the signs that your dog was bitten by a rattlesnake and what to do if it happens.


Welcome to another episode of Free Range Dogs

In this episode, Web talks with Kent and Michelle Rischard about their two Brittany spaniels, Millie and Reba, and an ordeal they experienced involving their dogs and a baby rattlesnake in their backyard.

One evening they let their dogs out in the backyard, as usual, when a commotion occurred and they ran back into the house. Millie was violently ill, vomiting, and they immediately thought she had encountered a venomous Sonoran desert toad. As they had been told to do by friends and neighbors, they got out the hose and proceeded to rinse out Millie’s mouth to flush out the poison.  However, they eventually realized that something else had happened as they saw her face start to swell and noticed two bite marks. 

As they prepared to go to the emergency vet, as this was occurring on Labor Day evening (as these things tend to do), Kent quickly went into the backyard to search for the snake, which he never found.  Millie was given anti-venin and was under observation. She seemed to recover quickly and completely. 

They returned home and continued to look for the rattlesnake. Kent did more work to snake-proof the yard. They didn’t let the dogs in the backyard unattended for a week, and then they let down their guard thinking that the snake must have moved on.

Unfortunately, the snake had not moved on, and almost immediately after returning to the yard unattended, both dogs were struck by the rattlesnake. This time they found it, curled up in an aloe vera bush, and discovered it was a baby rattlesnake about a foot long and the diameter of a pencil. This time, Reba required anti-venin, but Millie was ok. 

Kent and Michelle had thought, after the first incident, that the dogs would know to stay away from a rattlesnake, but this was clearly not the case.  They talk with Web about their decision to get their dogs trained to avoid rattlesnakes in order to avoid further dangerous and expensive encounters.  Web explains how dogs think and that they often do not make the connection between rattlesnakes and later being sick as the two things don’t happen simultaneously.  Aversion training makes the connection for dogs and includes exposing them to the scent so they will avoid them for the rest of their lives.  


Interview with Kent and Michelle Rischard and their Brittany spaniels, Millie and Reba

Web Parton and Snake Safe Training