Well, we had no sooner arrived and unhitched the fifth wheel than we were back on the treadmill. One of the first things on our to-do list was to attend a refresher course on “rattlesnake avoidance.” Offered by Austin dog trainer Harlan Winter, the short training course is designed to make sure that once-curious dogs know that rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins are BAD NEWS! All our dogs have participated in rattlesnake avoidance training, and when the free refresher courses are offered we are always there. (As many of you know, we lost Nickie, our wonderful eight-year-old border collie to a rattlesnake bite two years ago, so snake avoidance training is a high priority for us.)
Here are a couple of shots of Harlan Winter and his family, along with the western diamondback rattlesnake that was participating (enthusiastically, I might add) in the refresher course. He (or she) is safe to handle, because its venom sacs have been permanently removed. The snake is perfectly camouflaged and so wears a pink ribbon to make it easier for the handlers to see. However, the ribbon doesn’t impede its loud rattles or its (thankfully) harmless strikes.
You don’t see our dogs in the photos, because the training really works. Once they got out of the car and saw, smelled or heard the snake, they wouldn’t go anywhere near it.