It is mid-afternoon on a warm Tennessee day. Blondie and Cochise are snoozing in the house with me, Lulu is out wandering the yard. Suddenly, Lulu fires up her ALARM! bark.
Anyone with dogs knows there are different barks for different things. There is the “I see you over there, cat” bark, the “there are clouds in the sky” bark, there is the “it's going to rain, let me in” bark, the conversational bark, and there is the “something is terribly wrong, everyone get out here” bark. That's the one Lulu is employing.
Jasper (in his pen) joins in immediately. Cochise picks it up next. Blondie runs around the house huffing and looking out windows for a bit; she's not an alarmist, she wants to know WHY she's panicking before she does. When she joins in, both she and Cochise run to the back door to be let out to join the battle. Whatever that battle is.
I, too, am going from window to window to see if I can see what is upsetting Lulu to this extent. This is not their "UPS Truck" bark, nor is it their "vagrant dog" bark. This is their “emergency, come quick” bark. Something rarely employed.
The last time Cochise used it left me wondering about his definition of emergency, but he was adamant that I come see, leading me to the scene, stopping occasionally to see that I was still right behind him. He led me to my Mom's house. The outcome was odd, but it proved he can do it.
Seeing no reason not to let them out, I open the door. They bolt through and race off … and I follow them at a somewhat slower pace.
Lulu started out on the west side of our fenced yard, barking out toward the other side of the fence. That shifted to barking at my berry house, about 10 feet inside the fence. When the rest of us get there, she is barking at the ground on the east end of the berry house. By now, I have a suspicion of what to be looking for, and I didn't like it.
Blondie Bear and Lulu-Belle tag team the horrible beast, while big, brave Guardian of the Realm Cochise barks from a safe distance. I do not blame him. In fact, I'm glad. He tangled with a copperhead once, and that encounter meant a day in the doggie hospital and left him in severe pain and disfigured for weeks. He's still got a piece of his tongue missing as a reminder of what vipers will do to a foolish dog.
This one is just a black snake. No threat to them, or me. In fact, they are beneficial in many ways. Creepy, but beneficial. I try to corral the girls and get them to allow the slithery invader to go on its way. They are having none of that. Especially Lulu, who intensifies her attack when I try to draw her away. I think she's being protective of me because I am getting in close with her.
Then I see that the snake has a serious problem:
Try as it might, that snake isn't going anywhere; not for a long while – and I doubted it had a long while to invest. If I can get the dogs quelled and away I could try snipping the bird mesh to free this lawn dragon. That may not help: it will still be banded by the bit it would be left wearing.
While I contemplated this for a few nano-seconds, Lulu, not to be denied her prize, takes matters into her own paws. She rips the poultry mesh (installed to keep rabbits out of the berry house) away from the post and begins grabbing at the snakes tail. It strikes at her repeatedly. Lulu dodges and lunges. She gets a good hold on the tail and rips the serpent from its bindings, tearing a large patch of scales from it's side in the process, then “flaps” the squirmy prize to death.
I feel bad that I failed to save the thing.
Once it is dead, Lulu proudly stands over her prize. Blondie comes in to sniff at it, but, now that it no longer moves, there is no sport in it. I come with the pooper-claw and bucket to snatch away the 4-foot snake before they decide to eat it. That does not seem appealing to them at the moment, but I don't want to take any chances.
Cochise has already moved on. He's down on the far corner barking out through the fencing. I suspect he sees nothing at all but is putting on a good show, shouting, “Let THAT be a lesson to all dragons: stay out of our yard or this will happen to YOU, too!”
Then he scratches mightily at the ground, kicking up a cloud of dust to punctuate the threat.
Big, brave dog!