MONDAY: Rattler


Copyright is held by the author.

MY DAUGHTER lives in a canyon settlement near Los Angeles. On this particular evening, she and friends were out on the deck overlooking a long backyard. Everyone was chatting with a newly arrived guest about the day’s events and how pleasant the evening was passing. Dusk came quickly. Lamps were turned on and the conversation continued.

Her dog Rose quietly slipped into the darkness among the low bushes and tall grasses of the backyard. Quick, excited sharp sounding barks alerted everyone that she had come across something interesting. Rose wanted us to come right away and have a look at what she had discovered.

Excusing herself from the conversation, my daughter went down the stairs into the dark toward the barking. She found Rose, rump in the air, tail wagging, face down low, front paws dancing. Whatever she had come upon was hidden in a tangle of long grass. It sure wasn’t going anywhere as long as the dog was worrying it with her barking and pawing. My daughter had not brought a flashlight, so she stepped closer and leaned down toward the dog’s nose to better see what Rose had come upon.

That’s when my daughter heard the dry rattling sound coming from the grass. She froze.

She lives in a canyon and so a variety of wildlife is very plentiful. This summer the backyard has a large family of rabbits. So this attracts larger, more worrisome kinds of predators. Last week, a neighbour said he’d recently seen a bobcat hunting the bunnies at the back of the property. He suggested Rose be kept away from the rear fence line. But this time, Rose had discovered something far more dangerous. It was a snake, most likely a Western California rattlesnake. And judging by the sound of the dry warning rattle, it was none too happy at being disturbed.

My daughter called out to the deck.

“Rose’s got a rattlesnake cornered”

“Bring the big Mag lite. Hurry.”

Rose continued barking. My daughter slowly reached out and grabbed her collar so she couldn’t edge closer. With gentle tugging, Rose stopped her excited pawing and barking. But she remained stiff, frozen in place, staring intently into the long grass. Once the dog stopped worrying it, the snake’s warning rattle fell silent. But my daughter still couldn’t see the agitated snake, so knew that she and Rose were still in grave danger. She could easily imagine the angry rattler tensing to strike out at the light, and possibly Rose and herself.

The flashlight’s bright beam lit up the clump of grass where most probably the snake lay waiting — tail erect but not moving, black, beady eyes watching for any sudden, threatening movement.

My daughter found it lying almost out of sight under the grass blades and dead leaves.

“What the . . .?”

“There’s no darn rattler,” she shouted up toward the house. “It’s an electric toothbrush! What the heck’s going on?”

Laughing with relief, she picked it up.

It definitely wasn’t hers.

She carried the brush up to the deck and showed everyone the wannabe Western California Rattlesnake Rose had discovered out at the back of the property.

“I can’t say for sure, but that looks like my toothbrush,” the guest said. “Let me check.”

Off she went to her room. She returned quickly, confirming that her toothbrush was indeed missing from the low bedside table where she’d plugged it in several days before.

And so a story was pieced together the likely explained what happened.

Rose loves to take things wherever she finds them. A sweaty running shoe, a soiled gym sock, a discarded T-shirt and not too long ago, the set of keys to my daughter’s truck.

Rose must have discovered the charging toothbrush on the low table beside the bed in the guest room. Perhaps it was the slowly flashing soft green light that attracted her. Or maybe it was the prospect of a fresh toy to carry around.

Whatever the cause of it all, Rose must have gently lifted the toothbrush from its base and quietly carried it unnoticed out into the dark yard while everyone was chatting. Somehow in this process, as she was shifting the toothbrush around in her mouth, the brush turned on.

Surprised at the sudden sound and vibration in her mouth, Rose had dropped the electric toothbrush right where my daughter had eventually found it. And of course, when faced with an unknown object that makes weird sounds and vibrates, what’s a dog to do but bark at it!

And just by a coincidence in timing, as my daughter pulled Rose back from where it lay, the three-minute timer on the brush must have switched off the vibrating brush head!

And so dear reader, that is the true story of a recent dark night encounter with the feared Western California Rattler.

  1. What a fun story! Great description of the setting and the dog’s antics. You created a good sense of tension and resolved it with a grin. I enjoyed reading this.

    If only I could write an interesting story about how my dog chewed up our visitor’s expensive sandals. Unfortunately, no one laughed at that true story.

  2. What could have been a horrible situation turned into a fun story.

  3. My thx to Sheila and Sharon for your comments. When I originally heard about the “rattlesnake” incident from my daughter, I told her she should write it up and share it. She said that I could do that as it was more my “thing” than hers. So I did and CommuterLit has shared her California adventure with a whole lot more people. Oh, and I’ve never really thought of my own electric toothbrush in the same way ever again!

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