The snake whispering dog

Toby ended up being a helper.

Susan Wilson has authored three of my favorite books – and they all focus on relationships with people, and people and their dogs – sort of. Her last one is called, “The Dog Who Saved Me.”

To capture a quick image of the story : Susan writes fiction, obviously, and this tale is about a man – a former cop – who returns to his hometown. He becomes the animal control officer there. While he is learning to deal with all the memories and the past of his life, his family and such in the small town, he meets a dog -a dog he swore he would never get to close too. This dog had been abused and has gone feral. Susan intertwines each detail of this story so that it is not another ‘dog’ story – it is a story that revolves around some real life issues. In the end, the man is the one who is helped by the dog.

Who doesn’t love a story like that?

I had a dog like that once.

Toby was a typical dog. He was a mixed breed – there had to be some type of Terrier in him and possible chihuahua, and maybe a smaller breed of a hunting dog. We thought he was part Pug at one time, but as he grew older, he exhibited other qualities that made us think he might be something else.

A little after I moved to Georgia, Toby went to ‘college’ and found his fenced in yard and a couple who needed his love and saving more than I did.

The story of his beginning started in Texas. Toby was found at the end of the driveway of a home in southeast Texas, and the couple who said they found him brought him to the Walmart parking lot to give him away. They were parked next to the sno-cone truck, and that is where I was when I saw him. He was kind of odd looking, and I really was trying to avoid looking at him.

I couldn’t have a dog in my house as per my landlord. I was not sure I wanted one. I leaned around the corner of the sno-cone truck, and Toby was looking at me. I walked over to the couple. We talked for a few minutes, and next thing I knew, Toby and I were in my car headed home.

Negotiating with my landlord ended up with me paying a higher rent but I figured why not? Having the company would be worth it.

Little did I know how true that statement was. Toby really ended up rescuing me. I guess I should say he rescued me everyday – from myself, from loneliness, from mischief, from over-indulgeness, from pesky spiders, from taking life too seriously, and from people who I didn’t need to be around.

And he even saved me, well, both of us from becoming a snake’s snack.

There was this time in east Texas when I was working from home. I had my patio door open as I normally did. It was an enclosed patio. I was sitting at my desk writing some articles for for a paper. Toby was standing at the doorway of the patio – almost in a pointer stance – one foot up and his eyes intensely focused on the corner of the patio. He was growling like a grizzly bear.

I walked over, leaned down and said “What is it?”

I didn’t see anything, but his little soccer ball and a bottle of bubbles I had left out there. “Do you want your ball?” I asked. The growling didn’t stop. He stood in front of me as if he was trying to stop me from going outside.

I turned back around, and saw it. It was slithering through a hole in the patio along side the crevice by the edge. It was long, dark and looked to be headed our way.

Within seconds, I grabbed Toby, moved back in the house and slammed the door, locking it. The snake’s head appeared to be looking right at us. His body on the cement resembled a hose.

Toby just stared at it and barked.

Me and snakes … our love-hate relationship began when I was about five or six, and saw this thing sticking out from under our garage door, so I touched the top of it, and when its forked tongue came out, I went running in the house.

I am told by the one who came and got the creature from my patio, and took it away that it was non-poisonous, but it was long- probably three to almost four foot, and looked like it had been dining on some filet of frogs or fish or whatever things snakes eat.

It took a day before I could open the patio door again. (There had to be some snake repellant and some moth balls thrown out there first.) As soon as I did, Toby ran for the area where the snake was, to sniff and see if it was gone.

In fact, every time the door opened, he did that.
I guess he thought he was the snake whisperer or something. Until he moved out, whatever Toby wanted, he got after that.

Three months after that happened, he and I made a move to central Texas – and no snakes were around, but there were some neighborhood chickens and roosters who liked to trespass in our yard some.

Lesson learned: When the dogs bark, it is not always just to make you get up from our chair for no reason.