From inside her southwest Colorado ranch home, Carol could hear the agitated horses outside. She went to find her boots so she could go investigate the whinnying and squealing. That's when she saw her beloved dog, Lilly, cowering behind the bed.
Lilly's face was swollen and bloody! What had happened?
Thinking her dog had been kicked by a spooked horse, Carol scooped Lilly up and headed to her neighbor's house for an opinion. The neighbor looked the dog over and did not find a broken jaw as Carol had feared. There were also no major lacerations. But poor Lilly's face was continuing to swell and looked two or three times its normal size. Carol was afraid Lilly soon would not be able to breathe. She headed to the veterinary clinic in a small town about ten minutes away.
When Dr. Karen and her staff saw Lilly, they immediately knew what had happened, remembers Carol. Lilly had been struck by a rattlesnake! Carol wished she would have rushed Lilly to the vet immediately, but she was not experienced with snake bites and didn't realize what had taken place. Longer than an hour had passed, and no one knew whether the dog would survive.
Carol anxiously left Lilly behind so Dr. Karen could do her work. The dog was immediately hooked up to an IV so she could receive antivenin and fluids. The next hours and days would be critical.
As Carol called and visited the vet to check on Lilly, she reflected on her dog's life so far. Lilly and her sister had been found by one of Carol's friends in a very rural area--abandoned puppies by the side of a road. Knowing Carol had just lost a long time companion dog, the friend asked Carol if she was interested in the rescued sisters. Carol agreed to take them both, and three years later the thought of losing one of them was heartbreaking.
Fortunately, says Carol, "Dr. Karen did a beautiful job," and the healthy young dog pulled through. Lilly came home from the clinic four days later and the only change Carol notices is that Lilly snores. Not that anyone in the family cares!
Nowadays Carol takes both the girls in for an annual rattlesnake vaccine. She says it gives a dog a much better chance of surviving a bite. In areas like southwest Colorado, it's a must, she feels, and not only for the dog's safety. Carol recalls that the vet bill was high due to the four days Lilly received intensive care and because antivenin is so expensive.
"But it wasn't too high," said Carol. Lilly is home and well.