SSSSSSSSSSSSSS! RATTLESNAKE! If you’ve ever heard one you know how spine tingling the sound of a large rattlesnake is. It sometimes takes a moment to realize what you’re hearing… The sound of something frying. A hissing sound. A rapid crisp rattling vibration. A sound like an angry cicada. Whatever it sounds like to you, it means don’t tread on me.
Your dogs don’t speak Rattlesnake, however! They’re much more likely to be intrigued than intimidated. Domestic dogs do not know the danger of rattlesnakes and every year over 15,000 dogs are bitten by poisonous snakes. 70-80% of these bites occur on the face and head which says that the dogs are mostly satisfying their curiosity about this strange, hissing creature.
Last year I took my two dogs to the Mountains Restoration Trust to attend Patrick Callaghan’s Rattlesnake Avoidance Clinic for Dogs. This is a great fund raiser for the Mountains Restoration Trust and is now in its fourth year. The Mountains Restoration Trust purchases sensitive ecological areas and restores the native plants and wildlife habitat. This year’s Rattlesnake Avoidance Clinic with Patrick Callaghan happens on May 4, 5, & 6, 2007 at Headwaters Corner at Calabasas – you will need reservations, so read on.
Patrick Callaghan, the gentleman who personally trains all the dogs who attend, has over 20 years experience in training dogs and his clinics sell out all over California. Puppies as young as 3 months can be trained to avoid rattlesnakes and a dog’s trained behavior can alert the owner, as well. Patrick is a large, jovial man who takes his mission seriously and has quite a sense of humor, to boot.
I take my dogs hiking nearly every weekend, and just a few months after we’d gone to the clinic my dogs alerted me to a 5-6 foot rattlesnake coiled at the edge of the trail we were on. I was extremely thankful that I didn’t have to worry about keeping them away from it. That left me free to concentrate on finding a very long stick to shove the snake off the trail and down the hillside where it quickly slithered away.
The clinic is very well run. The enormous Texas rattlesnakes Patrick uses are truly beautiful, if a bit sinister. They’re wearing snake muzzles, so they can’t bite, and Patrick uses live rattlesnakes to train dogs in avoiding not only their appearance, but their movement and most importantly, their scent, as well. The clinic fills up fast, so if you’re interested in giving your dog and yourself a great gift call the Mountains Restoration Trust at 818-591-1701 x 189 or visit their website at http://www.mountainstrust.org, click Current Projects and Events and scroll down to find the flyer. If you have an interest, they are in dire need of volunteers for this year’s clinic. As a volunteer your dog receives training for half price in return for a half day shift. To volunteer email email@example.com or at 818-591-1701 x 212 and mention where you read this. For more information on Patrick Callahan visit http://patrickcallaghan.com