Life is filled with worry. Bills, kids, health, world peace, you know. Life. Loads of things you can't fix, although you try every day. But that crazy, smelly, abused yellow dog that I came across at a gas station in Falfurrias made life just a little brighter. I made that dog happy. And that made me happy.
Not that I am unhappy, generally speaking. I have a great life, filled with love and a great family support team. My kids and husband R.O.C.K. I guess I am at the frustrated level of my life though. Running the rat race, and they keep moving the cheese. Hey, Universe! More cheese please, less running, and you can keep your dirty rats.
So Butters the stray rescue dog came along, and I could fix her problems. My husband and son got into rehabbing Butters too. She got an extreme makeover from us, from flea baths to meds, to a raw diet that I developed just for her to heal her skin problems. This dog was loved.
She loved to ride in the truck with me, and hopped in every chance she got. She sniffed and explored her new home with us at the ranch. And she barked! We adored hearing her bark at the moon, at the cats (from a distance, as they scared her), at the horses. She was so tired and dispirited when she came to us. It was good to hear her be alive.
Every day at dusk my husband and I would take her for a walk. Within a week of this new routine, she would wait by the door for us in the evening, ready to go! She would smile a dog's smile, and off we would go, down the road towards my in-laws house. Rabbits and birds would flush out ahead of us, and that was when her doggy spirit soared. Off like a flash, she did her best to clobber any living creature that crossed her path. She never caught a thing, but she did love that chase.
One day, as usual, we walked. Butters was darting in and out of the bushes along the road, hunting for animals to disturb. When we turned at our usual point to return home, Butters lagged behind. She was slowing. We called to her, but she wouldn't come to us. She sauntered, dragging her feet. She stopped, and was breathing hard.
And that's when I saw the two red points on her back.
Rattlesnakes had been multiplying on the ranch because of the recent flooding rains. Friends had been posting snapshots of their latest snake kill, on their porch, in their carport, in their garage.
I assume in one of her leaps into the brush along the road, Butters encountered a rattlesnake. We heard nothing. No warning rattle. No yelp of pain. It just happened, as we walked a couple of feet away from her.
I went for my pickup, and we drove her back home. She succumbed within a couple of hours.
Rattlesnake bites are funny things. If a dog is bitten in the head, they survive. The bony structure of the head somehow processes the venom in a non-fatal way. If a dog is bitten in the body, the venom starts to dissolve the tissue, and there is precious little you can do to help them. There are rattlesnake immunization shots you can give a dog, but Butters didn't get one when we went to the vet. She was so weak when we first got her, I opted to wait and not tax her system with such a strong immunization. I regret this decision. Not sure if I did the right thing.
We buried Butters down by the lake, under a large granddaddy mesquite tree. She's sleeping in the shade, one of her favorite hobbies. I hope she gets all the rest her poor little body needed. She was so tired and so sick. But in the end, it was as good of a dog’s life as one ever had.
She was a great dog.