A few days before we crossed the border into Mexico, about a month ago today, we made the last minute decision to have Wylie snake proofed. We figured it was only a matter of time before he stumbled across one of the Sonoran desert’s six foot rattlesnakes, and we wanted him to know exactly what he was getting himself into. For those of you unfamiliar with the process of snake proofing, let me summarize:
1. Wylie puts on a shock collar
2. Harlan (the snake handler) drops a big ol’ rattlesnake on the ground in front of Wylie
3. Wylie, curious as always, walks on over to say hello
4. Harlan shocks the shit out of Wylie
5. Wylie jumps six feet in the air and quivers in fear at the sight and smell of snakes forever after
Since that day, we’ve been wondering if the training had stuck. Well, it stuck.
We were walking through our neighborhood, on the way to the beach, when an old Mexican man stopped us and pointed… “Vibora, vibora.” I didn’t understand at first, but as we followed his gesture, we saw that a man nearby was trying to wrangle a six foot coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) into a container. While not a rattlesnake, and not even poisonous, it would suffice for our test.
We walked Wylie over towards the snake, and when he caught glimpse of it, about 20 feet away, he whimpered (he’d kill me if he knew I was writing this) and jumped in my arms to try and flee the serpent. However embarrassing it may have been for him to act like such a little sissy, it was precisely the response we were hoping for: mortal fear.
In hindsight, it would have been nice to have skunk proofed him as well… (perhaps Wylie has skunk-proofed himself after yesterday, if you know what we mean).