Jun 142013

Phoenix Walk

What are your worst fears? Think about that for a minute because a whole spectrum of answers just went flying through your noggin’. I have several but my worst is that any harm ever come to my Golden Retriever, Phoenix.

It took several weeks before I could write this. You’ll understand why.

So what are they, loss of a loved one? Absolutely and god bless that never happens. Fear of flying? Ya, since 9-11 it’s all in the back of our minds and I grew up flying with my dad in his planes. Fear of failure or rejection? That’s a big one though it takes real humility within to admit it openly. How about a fear of snakes?


Harrison Ford and I have absolutely nothing in common except for two things. One, we both love his movies. Two, we both hate snakes! And that is absolutely no offense to any of my friends who own snakes. It’s just my own fear.

When I first moved to Reno many years ago I got involved with our local Hasty Team through the Sheriff’s Office and I also became a EMTII medic. I would be outdoors a lot. I received thousands of hours of training over the years from the best of the best in the fields of Auto Extrication, First Responder, High Angle Rescue, Scuba Diving (of which I could not overcome due to my claustrophobia), Swift Water Rescue and Back Country Rescue just to name a few.

I sucked at the rest but I excelled at the Auto Extrication part because I was really good at it. And I got to drive code 3 all of the time in my off time with the Department’s emergency rescue vehicles. I AM kidding on the latter as to it ever being a motivator. It was about saving lives of which I was a part of saving so very many. Next to my kid, the best life experience ever. But, driving code 3 was bad ass. I’m trying to give you a perspective as to how I reacted to the following.

We were told that we would be spending a lot of time out in the wilderness and we needed to be prepared for everything. We had classes and training every week of the year sans holidays. One night I walked into the room and there were a bunch of boxed cages on the ground and it was quiet. It was a snake training class from Dave Doty. This guy was a legend who had been bitten by snakes more times than you can fathom.  I shuddered and wanted to bolt but my team members kept me there.

My fear comes from hearing a rattle snake boast with his saber when I was a young boy at Pyramid Lake as my Dad and I were headed back to California. He said they can kill a person. Imprinting a child, huh?

Dave Doty explained about snakes and said they are misunderstood. No, I understood them then and I still do to this day. Stay the eff away. Bullsnakes and rattle snakes are very similar in so many regards. They look similar to the novice. A rattle snake will have more of a triangle-shaped head than a bullsnake and usually be bigger in circumference. A bullsnake can make every sound a rattler can but here is some irony. A bullsnake is often more of an asshole, though not poisonous, with it’s attitude. I am not even remotely a snake expert. I have buddies who live in the rural areas and work in the outdoors daily in their lives so they will understand. And if you have mice or a varmit problem a bullsnake will clear that up quickly for you.

A rattlesnake’s tail will be up and a bullsnake’s will be down on the ground when it’s time to rumble.

As you will notice these pics were taken a few weeks back,  hence Phoenix’s longer hair pre-groomer. We go on different routes walking almost every day. Just to change things up. But, our route in the Rainbow Ridge area has brought us great joy from all of the dog walking friends we’ve made over the past 10 years. And this one particular walk beholds a rock that Phoenix has always lifted his leg on. Same rock. 10 years. It’s his rock.

We were coming up the path and I heard this out of ordinary…I don’t know…buzzing sound. My first thought was that maybe it was a home owner (the path backs up to homes) using an electric weed eater? It was just weird because nothing in my visual path saw anything. Yet that extra sense kicked in. The sound was becoming more intense.

Phoenix started his trot up to his rock and I YANKED BACK!!! In the same second it lunged at him briefly then recoiled!


And the tail was up and I could see the rattle…well…RATTLING!!

I LITERALLY LIFTED PHOENIX OFF OF HIS FEET BACK TOWARDS ME I YANKED SO HARD!!! That was first time in his life I have EVER done that to him.

He yelped in pain (or possibly fear from my abrupt action). From which I held in my hands the end of his leash a harm I swore I would never cause him.

That moment sucked more in my life than you will ever, ever know. It crushed me.

Phoenix was literally a FOOT away when I yanked. I’m not a physically strong person by any means but I was in fight or flight mode, leaning heavily on flight.

This was one very pissed off snake. Amazing what adrenalin can do to the human body in the moment. Nothing and no one will ever harm my kid yet….

Phoenix’s feelings were so hurt that his Daddy had done that with the leash as you can see by his refusal to look at me. I’m deeply sorry, buddy. I was protecting you.

Yet, he forgives a minute later. Life lesson for all of us.

Yanking Leash

Him, “That actually hurt. What did you do that for, Daddy?”


It was slithering, moving around, hissing, that rattling, and commented, “You really need to move along. The dog too…”

Ok You Were Right

I pointed in the direction of the snake and said to my kid, “That’s why.” He said, “Oh ok, why is he making so much noise?”

No Really

Snake, “You are a big enough dumb ass to take pics? I’ve had a really bad day.” Question, why does the animal world keep calling me a dumb ass? Not right.

Cute Jogger

My always cup half full, Phoenix, “Daddy, cute girl jogger. Pay attention. Straighten your shirt. Never mind. I love you. I will handle this.”

The cute girl jogging approached and stopped to pay attention to Phoenix as he obediently sat and she said, “OMG, you’re a cutie! Let me give you a scratch behind the ears!” As she did he leaned into her and fawned over her batting his eyes up at her.

Me interrupting the moment saying to her with a warning, “There’s a rattlesnake right there (pointing at the snake) so be careful.”
Her, “Oh ya, they are out and about this time of year. Good doggie! See ya!” And she trotted off down the path.

Phoenix to me, “You idiot! That’s your best your line?!” *sigh*

At least I wasn’t thinking about that damn snake.

Btw…I always make fun through our banter. Man’s best friend. Unconditional love.

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Mike Vogler

I have been told (many times) that I really need to write a book about my life. The past 50+ years have been an exciting ride, and these days I find myself with a great many passions. However, I feel that this website is a much more personal way with which to share my musings, stories and commentary.

  23 Responses to “Phoenix and Friends, This Was One Very Pissed Off Snake”

  1. Brutal, sir.

    This reminds me of the time at Pyramid Lake my mom, sister, and I all turned just in time to see my father backhand my other (toddler) sister and knock her out of her chair… we were understandably horrified…

    What we didn’t realize is she had been rocking the (non-rocking) chair and was pitching head first into the campfire. His backhand was his quick response to keep her face from being to a crisp. And it worked.

    Like you, he was mortified for some time after, but she has never had anything but love for him. Like Phoenix for you.

  2. I f-ing hate snakes!!!!
    How scary was that? I would have heard that rattle and shit down both legs! I would have probably been too scared to move and cried until someone picked me up and carrie me away! Not joking.

    You are much braver than I. That would be enough to keep me from walking that path ever again.

    Phoneix understands that you would never hurt him intentionally. You were protecting him and even though it pains you, it was the right call. We all would do the exact same for our kids!

    p.s. I cant believe you took pics of that thing!!!!

    Funny Phoenix and snake comments too!

    • Thank you, Tony 🙂 And it was not a pleasant experience whatsoever! Though it could have been a heck of alot worse!

  3. I cant stop staring at that pic!
    it gives me the heebie jeebies!

    I hate hate hate rattlesnakes even though I have never seen one in real life. But yet im fascinated by them and like to see them on youtube and on tv.

    Yuck! They make me cringe! :0)

  4. How long did it take before your heart started to beat normally?? Glad that you and Phoenix both survived uninjured!

    Someday I’ll have to tell you my snake story!

  5. It’s been quite a while since I’ve experienced that type of sudden fight-or-flight adrenalie spike. I think I prefer it that way.

    And Phoenix totally understands.

  6. Had to be terrifying for you. Dave Doty was always a little too forgiving of snakes.

  7. Remember…Dave got bit that night. I took him to the hospital…AFTER he put the snake back into it’s box.
    Good training for Phoenix and other doggies:


  8. Holly shit! that is scary! I do know that flight or fight feeling very well, it is pretty amazing. Glad you are both safe. I know that was hard for you, but we do what we have to do to protect who we love. As always love the pics and text.

  9. They have snake training for dogs. You may have given him enough with that yank on the leash though!

    My Dad has some really big fat water moccosins that slither into his yard from a back ditch. Alligators have been caught in his neighbors yard…anyway, the moccosins don’t have rattlers, and his schnauzer gives him worries.

  10. Just stopped by again to look at that mother f-er! And cringe again, lol.

    • I will also give you a little insight to how much of a big pansy I am for those that dont allready know, lol. My daughter and I go for walks by Redhawk Golf Course and we like to find golf balls. We find one and date it to remind us of our walks. Anyways, yesterday, we were walking and saw a ball in some wetlands that are OB on the course off of the 18th hole. So, my daughter tells meto go grab it. I said heck no! She said I will then! She chickened out as well.
      I eventually and hesitantly went down about 10 ftto go pick it up. Sage brush around me, I start to think of Mike and Phoenix and thier rattlesnake story! I froze! My daughter says, what are you doing? Me- im scared! Lol. NOthing was there but the thought of that damned snake! Daughter- Really? Pick it up daddy!
      Ip ickup the damned thing and run up the hill. She says..you ran back up like a little girl! Nice…daddys girl!

    • Nothing ever wrong with being cautious, Tony!

  11. I have goosebumps! My mother always taught me that the only good kind of snake is a dead snake. We grew up on a farm that was a long way from medical help, so this was the standard rule for us growing up, especially if it was in our yard.

    • I know they are important part of the ecology and cycle of life. But, as far as walking on a paved path with my dog I would be in favor of having your mom lead the trail and taking them out, Diane! 🙂

  12. whoa!!! that IS scary! You saved him, though. That’s amazing.

    My mom used to live on some land in South Texas. More than one dog died of a snake bite out there. It’s awful and tragic. I’m so glad you were able to avoid it with Phoenix!

    (sorry I’m just getting around to my comments! Been on a hiatus after the vacay.:)

    • We are sure hoping for a post on Writer B is Me about your trip, Beth!! Yes, it is very tragic and a few years back a dog here in Reno went bounding off through the sagebrush to play. He landed right in the pit of a “nest” of baby rattlers. As you know they can’t control their venom release and it was fatal. I’ve never let Phoenix off leash after that.

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