SBR Lecture Series – How trained dogs respond to rattlesnakes

To start off our March safety lectures, Jay Smith, dog trainer and owner of Dogs at the River dog training, made his annual visit to SaddleBrooke Ranch on Tuesday, March 10. You always learn a lot from Jay about keeping yourself and your pets safe from rattlesnakes and other poisonous creatures in the desert. The thought of a rattlesnake can send shivers up your spine, but an encounter can be dangerous. As new residents move into the Ranch, learning to live with these animals is important so we can enjoy our outdoor living with the knowledge to avoid them. Jay covered tips on what to do if you encounter a rattlesnake in your home, in your yard or in the community. One of the best ways to avoid being bitten is not getting too close to one. Rattlesnakes will strike when suddenly surprised, but they also have a fear of people. When you come across one on the path, observe from a distance and let the snake go its own way. When coiled, a rattlesnake can strike at a distance of about half to two-thirds of its body length. Jay told us not to believe the myth that all rattlesnakes will warn you by rattling. Rattlesnakes are most active in the evening and at night when they do most of their hunting. When walking or hiking, wear hiking boots and loose-fitting pants to deflect fangs. Carry a walking stick and keep it forward; have your cell phone and stay on trails.

Jay also talked about the Colorado River toad, which can grow to about 7.5 inches long and is the largest toad in the United States. It has a smooth, leathery skin and is olive green or mottled brown in color. There are several glands on a toad that produce toxic secretions. Dogs that have attacked toads have been paralyzed or even killed. Jay explained how to wash out their mouth to remove the toxic secretions.

Jay took the group out to the parking lot for an up close and personal experience with a couple of rattlesnakes. We were able to observe how they behave when someone approaches and to watch how dogs that have been trained respond to the rattlesnakes.

Many residents of SBR have taken their dogs to Jay for training and have been very happy with the results.

Upcoming Lectures:

“Weather” is the topic of our meeting April 14, Tuesday, at 2:30 p.m. Our speaker, Hugh Parker, is a local resident of SBR. Hugh has a BS in Meteorology from Penn State University and an MS in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University. His thesis was severe thunderstorm analysis using satellite and radar data. Hugh will talk about general circulation patterns for West Coast weather and ocean currents, Gulf of Mexico weather and the South West monsoons as well as the Great Basin cold outbreaks. Top on our list is the southern Arizona weather going into details on averages, extremes, local variations caused by the various elevations and the influence of the Santa Catalina and Tortolita mountains. He will give some thoughts on climate change and where to go for more information about weather.

“Western National Park Association” is our topic for Thursday, April 23, at 5:00 p.m. Watch for more details.