We live near a creek. There are lots of critters that hang out near the creek. We see deer, raccoons, turtles, opossums, dogs and cats. Sometimes those critters venture into our yard. Thankfully we have 3 beagles that are always on guard duty.
Yesterday our beagles were raising a ruckus and trying hard to get our attention. The three of them had created a circle around something and were barking like mad. I couldn’t see anything from the back door but I knew there must be something in the center of that circle. I just hoped it wasn’t some poor kitty that had made the mistake of trespassing in their territory. This happens sometimes and the oldest and largest of the 3, Patty, will try her best to protect the poor thing from attack by the 2 others until one of us can rescue it. Patty is such a sweet girl.
Not knowing what I might find I grabbed a shovel as I passed the barn on the way to they ‘circle’. As I got closer I still couldn’t see anything. I was thinking they had cornered another vicious turtle. Usually when I come out to investigate Patty will meet me and lead me to the battle zone but this time she held her ground and barked alarmingly along with Lucy and Bobby. As I drew close to the pack I saw it. It was a coiled snake that was striking but the dogs had kept out of range. I knew what it was the moment I saw it. A Copperhead Snake was the unlucky intruder.
In truth, the snake must have been terrified and was defending itself from attack. Even though I knew it was probably just passing through and would have gone about it’s business hunting unsuspecting chipmunks or field mice I couldn’t leave it where it might actually bite one of our protectors (the beagles) or a neighbor’s pet or even a neighbor.
I mustered the courage to take a few steps closer. It struck at ME!!! I was out of range but my adrenaline kicked in out of fright. I could run inside and call animal control but the snake would surely bite one of my dogs during the wait for him to get here. I was the only man at home at the time so I couldn’t pass it off to my partner or other man of the family. I was trembling with adrenaline by now.
The dogs would not turn their attention from the snake. I called them back but they would not obey. I began to wonder if one of them had already been bitten. Now I was really scared thinking one of my babies might be in danger of dying while I hesitated. I walked right over to the snake and quickly, without really thinking about it, cut it’s head off with the shovel in one quick, clean blow. I had seen my father do this many times from the time I was young. We lived in the country and snakes were always coming too close to home. He was fearless about it. I was not.
I felt bad for having killed it. I really did. It was a beautiful creature even though it was terribly dangerous and scary. I don’t like to kill any thing. I will do what ever I have to do to protect those I love from danger.
It’s funny how danger can bring out a part of us we rarely use.