Thursday, June 24, 2010

Smooch and her imaginary friend

Poor Smooch. She has been working overtime lately, alerting me to snakes on the porch. It's the same drill day after day. I'm inside working, Smooch is outside patrolling. I hear Smooch's mom-there's-a-snake bark. I go outside and pick up the snake pole from its home atop the saddle stand. I lasso the snake, then walk down the driveway carrying the snake pole with the snake dangling from the end. I go out the gate, into the field, release the snake, then go back home and return the snake pole to its appointed spot. Ho-hum. Just another day at the ranch. Apparently I've lost my fear of snakes. The drama and excitement from snakes gone by has jaded me. That is not to say snakes are my friends. It's just that I've caught and released so many of them, they've lost their ability to give me the heebie-jeebies.

For those of you unfamiliar with the mechanics of a snake pole, allow me to offer this detailed technical illustration.


Everything I learned about snake poles and snake relocation, I learned from Mikey, and I am forever in her debt. It's much more practical, say nothing of humane, to catch and release a snake than to kill it (and yes, I learned this the hard way). With a few dollars' worth of PVC and a hunk of clothesline, it is quite simple to lasso the snake, pull the opposite end of the rope to "tighten the noose" temporarily, then relocate and release the snake in an area away from your dog, your house, and your flip-flop-wearing feet.


But here's the problem. Smooch doesn't understand the intracies of our catch-and-release program. Each time I've done the snake drill this week (that would be four but who's counting?), I've come back to the porch, returned the snake pole to its designated spot, and watched Smooch have a hissy fit. She stands by the snake pole and barks and barks and barks as if the snake were still wriggling at the end of it. The lingering scent of the snake on the rope must be overpowering. I don't have the heart to tell Smooch she's seeing things.

I just have to learn to distinguish her mom-there's-a-snake bark from her mom-it-smells-like-a-snake bark. In either case, I'm getting lots of exercise this week.

27 comments:

  1. You know I adore Smooch, so I really enjoyed this post this morning, and it sure gave me a good laugh! (As soon as I saw the title I knew to put my coffee cup down.) Poor girl, not only the sight of a snake, but the lingering smell ... bet she's stressed by the end of the day.

    Are you sure you've had four different snakes and it's not one coming back playing games with you? We had a black snake years ago that kept coming back wanting to be part of the family, ha! The reason we knew it was the same one is this one was extremely long, longer then usual, and no matter how far we took him from 'home', he almost beat us back to the front porch and his special spot!

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  2. Smooch probably thinks the snake is IN the pole!

    What a good ranch foreman she makes, keeping the place safe and sound.

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  3. Poor Smooch. How long has this been going on?

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  4. You do wear cowgirl boots when you are on snake removal/relocation duty eh? The snake may have brought some of their friends to try and party at your house. Now I have a case of the the creepy crawlies, and it almost makes me glad that I live so far north that there are no snakes......
    signed
    Theresa in Alberta (scratch scratch)

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  5. Good for you on the catch and release program. I've killed way too many snakes in my life and called it quits years ago.

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  6. I've only been reading a week or so, and this is the first full-body shot of Smooch I've seen. She's a really beautiful, healthy-looking dog. All that guard duty must be good for a pooch!

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  7. I would be worried about it being the same one too. Our snake catcher is a long pole with a pincher on the end like the ones you pick up trash with. I would be afraid the string would tangle and someone would have to undo the lasso. I would just have a snake going around with a pole on it before i could.

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  8. I love the hand drawn snake in the third picture, tongue and all. :)

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  9. Nancy in NC6/24/10, 6:45 AM

    It's funny how we do get to know our dogs "barks".... My Bossman has at least 5 different "barks" that I can recognize... Poor Smooch - she's constantly on duty. What does her tag say? Border Patrol? She's living up to it.

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  10. Poor Smooch! She does such a great job.
    Maybe put the pole on the ground so she can inspect it?
    How did you train her not to put her nose right in the middle of a rattlesnake?

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  11. Great post! Love it!

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  12. Smooch is such a good girl!! Even with our extra snake sightings this summer, I'm still squeamish...I wish I wasn't...I know there are good snakes. My husband still has to take care of the relocation duties. He finds the King Snakes very interesting while I peek through the window and fight nausea. :)

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  13. One more thing...Does Smooch ever try to bite or pick up/play with the snakes?

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  14. Poor Smooch - she really takes her job seriously! I, too, am in favor of catch and release, although it's not something I have to worry about here in apartment land. Brings back memories of my Mom - a hardy Pennsylvania farm girl who spent most of her life in Florida. I discovered that when she found a snake in her yard, she just picked it up and tossed it into a neighbor's yard!

    Nancy in Iowa

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  15. Maybe she has post traumatic snake disorder?

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  16. I wonder if you stand the pole up in a corner somewhere ... maybe even beside a rake or broom...if it would be of less interest to her? .... otherwise, this could wear her out.... mentally and physically ....

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  17. Too bad you cannot teach her the rin snakes as some are beneficial to have around for instance bull snakes will kill and eat rattlesnakes. Although not sure if the big ones would go after your chickens or not... Ah the wonders of nature.

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  18. Snakes are just not my friends although I never bark at them. Hats off, Carson that you can collect them and find them a new home. Maybe you need to drive them 40 miles away on Saturday. They however do keep the mice and rodents in check.
    Here's a question for Friday. Please advise the life span of a laying hen. Thanks,
    Best always, Sandra

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  19. Ummm....

    hmmmm....

    You wear flip flops?

    And, you caught four snakes just today?

    I have a feeling I'm going to be learning things I never imagined I'd be doing...oy vey.

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  20. Smooch is one smart pup. I took little Bert to the vet this morning for shots and a snake-bit dog was brought in. The third in two days, said the vet. I guess I'm glad we're not out in the desert.

    All those bitten dogs are doing well, by the way. The vet said its a very painful experience for them, though.

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  21. Ok, just seeing the title of this post and Smooch's little hiney in my blogs-to-read sidebar this morning had me chuckling.
    I am very impressed at how seriously she takes her job to protect you and her farm! Good girl, Smooch!!

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  22. Smooch is a brilliant girl and takes her job very seriously. There must be a lingering snake scent on the rope, I guess. Glad I don't live there or I'd never go out of the house. It's good she lets you know when to come out for the catch and release, she's one guardian angel dog to protect you like that. Good going Smooch.

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  23. At our house, logically we like snakes and know they have a useful place in our world, emotionally we still struggle with that "SNAKE!!!!!" reaction. Especially the giant black snake that was hanging down out of our rain gutter recently after a gulley washer. We caught it, put it in a cooler, and drove it a few miles away to release it. Do you think it will find its way back?

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  24. Glad you have a snake guardian and even happier that you are one too.

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  25. Thats too cute, and totally believable... unless shes just wanting attention, lol

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  26. Ugh, SNAKES! *shudder*

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  27. OK...in all your wisdom...what is the species count? And, I'll need one those poles sooner than later. (hopefully NOT while we are down visiting the ranch the end of July!)

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