Rattled dog walker


Monday, June 28, was a cool and gloomy day and we walked our dogs as usual. I, in the lead, watched the path for rattlers with my 55 pound dog in tow (on a leash). My neighbor was just behind us walking her dog on a leash. We were on a fire road that even the fire department will not venture on. Brush surrounded us. I tried to focus on the path so I could see any lurking dangers. But the ocean and sky can draw you in.

Suddenly, something struck the back of my neck, grazed my head and landed about four feet in front of me. A rattler coiled and hissed on the spot. I backed up and checked the dog. He had a long streak of yellow liquid along the left side of his body. Was he struck? We checked him out and he seemed okay, but we hurried home, which was at least ten minutes away, in case he had been bitten. We had no cell phone or any other way to call for help. We were in the wilds of the Malibu hills. We left the rattler where he/she was rattling away.

At home, I checked the dog thoroughly, washed off what I assume was urine and argued with my husband. I said, “The rattler jumped over my head,” He said, “Snakes don’t jump.” How could he doubt what I had just experienced? I had him call my neighbor to verify my story. She said all that she saw was a stick fly up into the air. Then she recalled that Rocco (my hunting dog) had made a quick movement. Had he grabbed the snake at the side of the path and then tossed it away, far away? Over my head? Did he save me or nearly kill me? That is the question.

We are walking the paved road the rest of this season.

Vivian Richman