I always walk Maggie off the lead, and we don’t shy away from exploring. I am usually vigilant in watching her, but on Saturday afternoon, I let my guard down. I saw her sniffing around in the short grass at Mt Osmond. Given she’s a gun dog and often follows a scent, I didn’t think much of her curiosity and continued to walk on while she investigated. I recalled her, but she didn’t come, and when I looked back, she had a juvenile Eastern Brown snake in her mouth. I immediately ran to her and forced her to drop the snake, thinking we had been fortunate and she’d avoided a bite. Given she didn’t yelp and I couldn’t see a bite mark, I ignored my instinct to take her straight to Emergency and kept walking.
I was checking her over and observing her behaviour before finally giving in to what I thought was anxiety and overprotectiveness. I called the SASH Adelaide and spoke to the vet nurse. They told me to bring her in for a check and advised me that symptoms can sometimes take an hour or more to present when a dog has been bitten; they said that when the symptoms show, the dog will deteriorate quickly. I walked Maggie back to the car, thinking it was a “just in case” exercise, but in the time it took to walk from the trail back to my car, Maggie began to deteriorate and show symptoms of weakness in her hind legs. In the following 10 minutes, she had become semi-paralysed and was in a lot of pain, with severe coagulopathy (a bleeding disorder due to the blood’s inability to coagulate/form clots) by the time we got to the hospital.
The vet gave Maggie anti-venom within an hour of the bite occurring, and was admitted to hospital for 24 hours under close supervision. If I had relied on making that decision based on visually seeing a mark or symptoms, and if not for the lifesaving advice of the vet nurse, there’s a high chance Maggie would have died. Please don’t risk it. Don’t chance it. I hope no one has to feel the fear I felt on Saturday, not knowing if I’d still have my best friend with me to share life with. I owe the exceptional staff at SASH all my gratitude for saving Maggie’s life.