Badly wounded when I hit it with the bush hog while mowing the adjacent area outside the fence, it made its way into Sky's half acre to hide from the assaulting blades, just trying to find a safe place to survive.
Late in the afternoon, around 4 PM Sky sensed its presence in the garlic bed beneath the burl oak at the southeast corner of her half acre and investigated, then attacked. By the time we went outside to find out what she was going on about, her muzzle was blood soaked. It took some effort to get her away from the garlic patch to take a close look and that's when I spotted it.
The only part I could see of it was poked up vertical and shaking among the garlic stalks, making a distinct rattling sound. Fetching the shotgun I pumped three rounds of OO buckshot into it before pulling it out with a long stick–a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake just over four feet long. By then it was 4:20 PM. We had no idea how long ago it had struck Sky or how many times it had struck her. Its venom was spreading fast. Time was wasting fast.
Rushing with as much caution as I could muster and maintain, I grabbed my phone, truck keys and wallet, took a photo of the pit viper, put Sky into the truck cab passenger seat and drove as fast as I dared to toward the closest veterinarian twenty miles west. Cell service had been down for more than thirty-two hours and I still wasn't able to get a signal to alert the vet I was on the way with an emergency case. I didn't want some sheriff, deputy or state trooper to pull me over for speeding, so I tried to keep an eye out for any of those as I rushed on. Luckily, none were encountered and I opened the door to the vet's office with Sky in my arms at 4:58 PM, two minutes before closing time announcing the emergency with absolutely no tact or restraint whatsoever.
"She's rattlesnake bit!"
They jumped right into action and put her on IV, administered antivenin and told me they would call me when they knew more. Two days later she still hadn't eaten anything so I went to the vet and asked if I could see her, concerned she was depressed and thinking I had abandoned her there. Glad to see each other, she ate a couple of milk bones. Relieved to see her finally eat something, they said she could go home with me. After an injection of antibiotics and prescription of more antibiotics and something to reduce inflammation of the bite-wounded area we headed home. Her face was swollen to twice its normal size and sore.
Her condition steadily improved as she rested and drank and ate more each time she tried. Then came the necrosis. A large area of her right cheek disintegrated and fell off. Another visit to the vet for a bit of reconstructive surgery and she's back home now with a cone around her head to keep her from scratching at the sutures. Astoundingly, she is anything but miserable. Even before the surgery her spirits had ramped up each day and now, even with that damned cone around her head, she's growing more cheerful and energetic by the hour.
Six more days she has to wear the cone. Then another visit to the vet to get the stitches removed. She'll probably have a permanent sneer on the right side of her face, but her eyes, ears and tail all reveal she's as happy, gentle and cheerful as she ever has been.
Then I'll have to decide if she'll get to return to free run over her half acre, or live restricted to less enjoyable space within the houseyard's quarter acre.