I was hiking through a quite early morning forest lost in my own thoughts (Okay thinking about what digestive explosion of culinary delights I would create for lunch) The Stellars Jays and orange bellied robins were chirping in the Jeffrey Pines lining both sides of the trail as my pup and I made our way up into the wooded deserted forest. (Did we have any feta in the fridge? Did I need to stop at the store after our hike?) My Keen hiking boots cut quickly through the dry dirt as we made our way uphill through the peaceful forest (Do we have any almonds to throw in the salad…) When, oh fucking shit, that is a big black rattlessnake under my left hiking boot!
My mind quickly left the thought of arugula and spinach behind as I held my foot in mid-air above the slithery snaky asshole before calmly stepping back and thanking God my pup was leased. Thank you Jesus for safety precautions during rattlesnake season.
I was wondering if the snake was dead; It hadn’t moved at the sounds of my footprints, and I muttered,
“That was a close one Carly” To my pup, and at the sound of my voice a tremendous rattle filled the quite forest and my heart began racing.
The sound of a rattlesnake’s angry warning rattle can be absolutely terrifying. I’ve heard this noise out on forest trails way too many times and let me tell you, you never get used to that bone-chilling noise. It’s even more terrifying if you have a dog with you and even worse if your dog is off-leash. When taking my dog on a hike, I always use a harness. More so that I can attach the leash without her pulling on her neck, but in the event that rattlesnake was to attack, I would have more chance grabbing her by her harness than I would with an ordinary collar or by her skin. The worst feeling in the world is wondering how close your dog might be to that life-changing (And bank account changing) rattle. I was recently talking to a friend who had a similar experience. He decided to take a different approach with a dog trainer in Aurora, CO to prepare his dog for any situation with loud, bone-chilling noises such as a rattlesnake’s rattle.
Luckily for all you dog lovers out there, Rattlesnake Aversion Trainingis offered in most areas. Most VCAs offer rattlesnake aversion training for about $75. Friends may argue, is it fair to your pup to strap a shock collar on them and scare the poop out of man’s best friend in the hope that your Champ or Charlie will then be terrified of rattlesnakes? My opinion on this matter is that I want my dog to be as terrified as I am of rattlesnakes and not to go anywhere near them on the trail. If it takes a few shocks to get to that point, that may save my pups life one day, we’ll then that is the price I will pay.
Do you have any idea how much money you will pay if your dog gets bit by a slithery asshole while hiking? It could be upwards of four thousand dollars! And that is if your pup even survives the attack! Taking precautions when it comes to being in rattlesnake county, may sound like a good idea right about now, right?
Is rattlesnake aversion training right for your dog?
Signing your dog up for a quick rattlesnake training aversion class may depend on the intelligence of your dog and how fast she is at learning new things. (Like that loud rattle noise is incredibly bad) I have other friends who are against rattlesnake training because during the rattlesnake training a shock collar is placed on the dog. I would rather my dog gets shocked a few times then bitten just once by a venomous Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. I hike and mountain bike lot with my dog, I mean we cover close to fifty miles some weeks on foot and with me on my Cannondale bike. We encounter snakes on the trail more then enough times spring through autumn to make me feel vigilant about being on the lookout for rattlesnakes. I want my mutt to be just as cautious. Do you spend lots of hours hiking trails with your pup? Rattlesnake aversion training may be worthwhile to look into for your pup. It’s really not too expensive when you think about the fact that it could be saving you from a many thousands of dollar vet bill and it may even save your dog’s life. The class takes less than forty-five minutes and, I felt, my dog really got a lot of it. After she tried to smell the first snake at the training class and got a shock, she laid down in the grass behind the trainer and refused to even get up and smell the other (Safe) snakes on the training course.
Why rattlesnake Aversion Training?
It’s been 80 degrees here in our mountain resort town for the last four days and believe me, I have not let anyone forget it. In my little mountain hamlet set under the pine trees, eighty-six degrees is unbelievably warm. It was so hot last night that my boyfriend and I escape to the RV and turned on the air-conditioning and had date night. We also brought our extremely hot and sweaty long-haired cat with us because uncle Sy has not been cool since May.
I’m obviously not the only one pissed off about the constant heat as we ran into this angry venomous dude Saturday morning on the trail. He was not happy to see us at all and threw quite a fit as we tried to get him off the trail so that he wouldn’t bite anyone else or their dog.
Being that it’s now officially summer we obviously saw another rattlesnake one mile farther up the trail. If it’s eighty-sixed degrees in Big Bear Lake then obviously it’s a two rattlesnake kind of day.
I’ve done nothing but complain about the heat for the last four days but that doesn’t mean I didn’t go for a nine-mile mountain bike ride today in the extremely hottest part of the day just to challenge myself. And oh yeah, and also to sweat out the butter chicken. When we inhale Butter Chicken for dinner, my arteries are definitely feeling it the next day. Yea for mountain biking. Boo for rattlesnakes and the way they make my heart race when I see them trailside.
How else can I keep my doggy safe from rattlesnakes on the trail?
My boyfriend likes to make fun of me because he says I stomp around the house like an elephant. It’s not that I am trying to make myself sound like a pachyderm as I walk around our hardwood floors, but I’m used to making my footsteps as heavy as possible when hiking up mountain trails because this is a great way to let rattlesnakes know that you’re in their domain. Rattlesnakes have a keen sense of hearing and can hear you before you usually see them. Which is why you usually get that distinctive rattle sound way before you see the rattlesnake. My best friend likes to sing as she’s walking through singletrack trails which is a great idea if you are out hiking alone. Anything you can do to let those slithery snakes you are in their domain. Moral of the story here is, if you see a petite blonde girl walking through the forest and singing she’s not crazy she’s just on high rattlesnake alert.
One thing that I constantly find myself telling fellow hikers and trail runners while out exploring in rattlesnake country is, don’t listen to headphones and music when out trailside during rattlesnake season. It amazes me how many trail runners and hikers I see with headphones on! I love the Dixie Chicks as much as the next person but when Natalie Maines is screaming in both my ears, I can’t hear the snakes trailside and that is uber dangerous!
I always recommend hiking with your dog on a leash during rattlesnake season. My pup loves to be off leash and chase squirrels through the forest but she is not looking for snakes slithering in the bushes and could easily strep on one when she has oh-my-God-I-have-to-catch-a-squirrel-madness. When hiking during rattlesnake season, always remember that hiking up dirt roads that vehicles drive on is better to hike then singletrack trails for safety. Rattlesnakes don’t like to hang out on the roads with the heavy vehicle traffic that they can hear.
In the mountain community where I live we like to say that anytime you see lizards out and about sunning themselves on rocks you can also see rattlesnakes. This is the beginning of rattlesnake season and the begining of hiking with the pup on the leash and being super cautious trailside. No one wants man’s best friend to get the ultimate scary trailside surprise. Lets hope you and your pup have a safe and healthy hiking season on the trails of this gorgous country of ours!