As I knelt among the transplant flats, taking pictures of the green shoots, Bando jumped to my side, and all the hairs on his back went up, and he pushed at me with his trembling body. He growled the very specific growl that he saves for poisonous snakes.
This is the fifth time—the fifth time—he has jumped at my feet to protect me from a poisonous snake. When he does this, I stand very still, and look for the focus of his quivering stare, until I see the water moccasin, copperhead, or, in this case, the coral snake, he is warning me about.
Usually, I am able to grab his collar, and pull him backwards, away from the snake, and we take a different path, and let the snake crawl away.
Coral snakes are shy and gentle, and they have tiny fangs, and typically they are not a threat to anyone. But their venom is extremely potent. A coral snake bite on a dog’s nose would be very bad.
This coral snake was coiled now, less than a step away from me, and striking repeatedly at Bando’s face. Bando was relentless in his fierce barking, and the snake had turned to attack.
You never have a machete in your hand when you need it. All I had was the camera, a six-pack of chamomile shoots, and my size 12.5 work boots.
My boot landed instantly, without hesitation, on the striking snake. I am sorry, coral snake. I wish you could have crawled away, to live another day. But under the circumstances, I hope you understand. You might have done a lot of harm to my good boy, my farm foreman, my little stinker, my faithful friend.