Richie and the Snake


Yesterday, my little Dachshund Richie, the same one that is always sniffing around, was struck by a venomous snake that was under the deck that is in front of the workshop. I was working on something no more than 3 feet from where it happened and counted myself lucky that it was the dog and not me that was struck. I was not able to identify the snake as I didn’t get to see it being more concerned with Richie but there is definitely an uptick in them in my yard this summer. I have lived in this house for 32 years and this is the first time that I have encountered a poisonous snake inside of the yard.

I have several garter snakes that live in and around the ponds and yesterday while I was looking for whatever struck Richie, I found a black Whipsnake about 2 feet long that had just eaten something as its body was pretty distended. You can’t be too careful especially around the ponds or in dark shady places like under sheds. It seems that this hot, dry summer has really got them moving presumably to find water.

I rushed Richie to the vets but he was already in shock and was out of it by the time I got there. My vet is only 10 minutes from my house and when I walked in, they went into action like a well oiled team and had saline and other solutions including anti-venom pumping into his little body in no time flat. I stayed back out of the way and watched and hoped against hope that Richie would make it. They kept him overnight which I always dread as that is when animals seem to die after surgery. At least, that has been my experience. If they get through that first night, they have a chance.

True to his word, my vet called me around 9:00 pm that evening to give me a report. He had come back in especially to check on the dog and told me he would call me in the morning. After a restless night, I was up very early, (for me) waiting for the call back from the Vet. He had promised me that it would 8:00 am when he called but as I waited and waited all the while my thoughts thinking the worst. He finally called about 8:45 am with the good news that Richie was doing as well as could be expected and was alert although his throat and face were very swollen. But he was alive and my Vet thought that barring a sudden relapse, always possible with snake bites, he might pull through.

I told him I would be along to see Richie later in the day and stopped by in the afternoon. I spent some time with Richie but he was pretty drugged up and really didn’t recognize me. I left and it wasn’t 45 minutes later that I got a call from the Vet to say that Richie had passed away. I was in the car at the time and had to pull over as I just couldn’t stop crying. I had been hoping like hell that the little guy would make it but it was not to be. The Vet suggested that maybe Richie had been hanging on in the hope of seeing me before he passed on but that is probably wishful thinking.

I picked Richie up, this time in a box and brought him home. I took him out and let Ginnie and Pete sniff him over and I hope that this will explain to them Richie’s absence from their little pack. After all, he was the pack leader.

I put him back in the box and took him out to where all of the rest of the animals are buried alongside the Big Pond. The ground was hard and the sweat poured off of me but it helped me to work out some of my grief as I really loved that little dog and I’m pretty sure he loved me.

Now we are down to Ginnie the female miniature Dachshund, who does not really get on with Pete the overweight and bossy Chihuahua and Ellie who has her own problems trying to recover from the loss of Brown Cat. The one saving grace out of losing Richie is that I will no longer have to shut the cat up in a separate room every time I go out for fear that Richie would repeat his attack on her as he did many years ago.

Will I try to find another Richie? He was definitely one of a kind so probably not. I will see how it works out with the other two and then go from there.
RiCHie
Rest in Peace Richie. You were my Best Friend and very much loved. You will be missed.
One final note. It is ironic that of all the things that I revere the most, Mother Nature, she is responsible for Richie’s death. It was one of her creations that killed him. Payback for what he had done to other snakes? Only she knows…

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Farewell Brown Cat


Brown CatAs you can tell from the title, Brown Cat, my Siamese cat has left our little clan for that big cat heaven up in the sky. He was very much a fixture in this house for the past 15 plus years maybe more having joined us from a friend who was going through a marriage breakup.

Other cats have come and gone, a couple to the busy road outside of the yard, a couple to coyotes and one to the attentions of Richie, one of my Dachshunds. One cat hung in there and is still with us and again, a rescue from another friend who moved to Ireland. Her name is Ellie and she is at least 17 years old.  She too had to put up with Richie’s attentions and  eventually lost her tail after having gone missing for a week only to make her way back home. Not sure how she will handle being the only cat in the house but she and Brown Cat never really got along. They just tolerated each other but even so, were company.

Brown Cat came running out of the house one day and crashed into one of the potted plants that was standing on the deck. Turns out that he was having a diabetic seizure and the Vet confirmed that he was now a diabetic cat. That started him on a two shot a day treatment of insulin which we faithfully kept up for at least 4 years, maybe longer. I know it felt like a lifetime as I was pretty much chained to his timetable, a shot in the morning around 7:00 am and another in the evening, 12 hours later. It also meant having to keep an eye on his food input and convincing him that he needed to eat. Towards the end, he lost a lot of weight.

This morning after protesting loudly in his extremely loud voice until I fed him…again, he suddenly fell over. I put him back on his feet but he could no longer stand and we both knew that it was time to make that last trip to the Vets. I packed him into his carry case and along with all of his diabetic equipment, we trundled off to the Vets which is only a couple of miles from my house. As I have been using them to take care of my animals for over these past 30 years, I felt comfortable in leaving Brown Cat with them as by now, he was barely breathing as he lay in the box. I made my way back home to dig yet another grave for yet another pet. I went back later to pick up the box that was to be his new forever home and brought him home to rest.

He is buried in an area alongside one of the big ponds that has several dogs and a couple of cats and is piled high with rocks as a sort of cairn. It has some statues of dogs to make everyone aware that the area is off limits for any sort of digging.

On the bright side, I no longer have to give Brown Cat insulin shots twice a day or put him through the discomfort of taking a reading of his blood count. Neither do I have to buy anymore insulin  or diabetic supplies which are not cheap. In his later years, Brown Cat was not the most fastidious of cats when it came to using the litter box and as for covering anything up, forget it which means that I will no longer have to clean up behind him or change out the newspapers that he used in lieu of a litter box even though they were set up side by side. So, there are both good and bad to him passing.

Ellie on the printer

Now, Ellie is the only cat that we have left in our little family. She will also be the last one as I do not intend to get anymore. The two Dachshunds and the fat little Chihuahua are the only dogs left and the big gamble now is who will outlive who and that includes me.

Rest in Peace, Brown Cat.