Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rattlesnakes and Dogs and Snow and Perspective

Reading this Blog, you might assume that the most important thing in my life is my dogs; this would not be accurate. You might assume that my whole life revolves around the dogs, and showing, and so on; again, not accurate. But does one really need to have some kind of rank order in life? Must I really list the dimensions of my life in some artificial priority list? I don't think so.

I have thoughtfully and carefully constructed a life that includes things I value. Is it a perfect life? Of course not. But working closely with death makes one acutely aware that the candle burns brightly only for a limited time, and so I am mindful of the need to make the most of this time I have on earth.

My dogs are very important to me. They represent a childhood dream, a connection with other (different) living creatures, a way to better know myself, an opportunity to have competence and even excellence, and my private sanctuary where I work hard to become a better person. It is okay that it doesn't make sense to most, and that people think it is about the dogs when really -- it is about me.

My family and friends are important to me, even though the limitations of time and my aversion to talking on the @#$% phone means I do not stay as connected as I might. I suppose I could not have my dogs or my career, and instead tend to all the relationships I have -- sending all the birthday cards I forget now, buying and actually sending cute, thoughtful presents, traveling around to visit various family and friends scattered all over the place, and so on. But that is not who I am, and I figure if I am required to be someone other than who I am to have a relationship with someone -- well, I don't want that relationship anyway.

And that is the beauty of getting older -- perspective. You realize that you really don't have to do and be it all, and everything actually still proceeds somehow. Sure, some people drop out of the picture when you stop doing all the work or when you refuse to play the silly games anymore, but perspective means you just really don't care because you don't want people like that around anyway.

Today I am reminded that a rattlesnake always bites when you hug it, and that you cannot be mad or surprised about that because that is just the nature of a rattlesnake. It is sad when the rattlesnake is someone you love, but love does not make a rattlesnake less venomous -- darn it. So don't hug a rattlesnake -- you don't have to kill it because it isn't something more cuddly, but just keep your distance as you learn to admire what is special about a rattlesnake. However, I must say that I seriously prefer the company of my dogs to cold-blooded reptiles who have a tendency to bite!

And speaking of cold and the company of dogs, let me share some pictures from today of dogs in the snow....

Lovely, sweet natured Asia -- built like a Mack truck. She is amazingly devoted to me, and I love patting her "big, boy head".

Our little Sydee-Lou -- dainty, cute, independent but what a great obedience dog she is looking to be! Her attention is scary intense.

Zo-Bean -- my little energizer bunny/retriever. I just love this puppy -- she is so much fun to train and play fetch or anything. She is always "on" and is just a brilliant girl -- and beautiful to look at.

The Mrs. -- Maize. How blessed we are to have her at 9 years and 5 months. This morning I took the Mrs. and Halo on a two mile walk -- I call it our Old Ladies walk. You would never know how old Maize is -- she races around, barks at the puppies when they have the nerve to play, and just continues to be as perfect as she has always been. I am so lucky to have her.

My sweet and very different puppies!

Given that I do not breed young girls, having this three generation photo is especially unique. Syd is one year, Cadi is almost 4.5 years and Maize is almost 9.5 years. See the family resemblance (besides the big ears ;)?

FINALLY!!! The puppies have learned to stay (sort of) and so here is the first ever picture of all six of our girls -- in age order.

Maize, Halo, Cadi, Asia, Zoey, Sydney

Some advice -- don't hug a rattlesnake but more importantly, don't BE a rattlesnake -- hurting people is not nice.


  1. Wow, Mary Ann... That was extremely relevant in my life at the moment... I might have to print that whole rattlesnake paragraph and post it on the bathroom mirror as a constant reminder... Meanwhile, I just ignore the whole rattlesnake problem and focus on our dear 'Manda, her rowdy sisters, and my two boys anticipating Christmas and a birthday... Fortunately, the rattlesnakes aren't pursuing me at the moment so I can do that!

  2. Ha..yes..rattlesnakes. How does that saying go ~ first bite, shame on it ~ second bite, shame on me...I got too close :(

    Now, a Different Snake Story: My neighbor chases a rattlesnake into MY yard. He does come to my door w/a pitchfork in his hand...(I'm thinking..does he want to do some yard work??) no..just informing me he chased a rattlesnake into my yard. Humm...hubby is not home..must NOT have a rattlesnake in my yard, I have a BMD ! This may be the snake's environment..but it is also MINE & I don't have toxic venom. Well.. I may have something... Now the snake no longer needs its rattle

  3. from Aesop's Fables Translated by George Fyler Townsend
    "The Farmer and the Snake
    ONE WINTER a Farmer found a Snake stiff and frozen with cold. He had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom. The Snake was quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound. "Oh," cried the Farmer with his last breath, "I am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel."

    The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful."

    And a note for Marianne: Having lived much of my youth in an area populated by both two and non-legged rattlesnakes may I offer a warning? Rattlesnakes are an amazingly social lot (they like each other's company anyway) and where there is one there may be at least a mate. When you have dispatched your visiting rattlesnake bury it quickly but carefully--the venom is still potent and the muscle reflexes even after death will make the severed head snap and strike. Do not bury it on your property as the smell will draw its friends. My personal weapon of choice in dealing with rattlesnakes is a hard back rake to pin it near the head (pitch fork tines are too long--stick in the ground and leave enough space to slither away), then an ax specially mounted on a long handle to finish the job. The snakes should have all gone to sleep at this time of year, however, so no worries til spring!