English bulldog Hobie died recently protecting a 3-year-old from a timber rattlesnake. Photo by: Courtesy photo
August 15, 2017 10:31:20 AM
Friday afternoon after work, Lance Dodd and his fiance Jami Harvey took their 3-year-old son, Jackson, to Lance's grandmother's place for a bit of end-of-the-week unwinding. At least, that's what they thought they were doing.
Dodd's grandmother, Martha Edmondson, lives on Highway 373 about a mile from the South Gate at Columbus Air Force Base. Edmondson's home sits on a large grassy lot about 100 yards back from the road. Behind the house is a swimming pool, and still farther back, is a volleyball court. The property is surrounded by woods.
After swimming, Harvey and Dodd often play volleyball. Their son finds delight in retrieving his parents' errant shots in the high grass surrounding the court. Such was the case Friday. Also on the scene was Hobie, an 9-year-old English bulldog, who belongs to Dodd's brother, Adam, who lives in Colorado.
"When he moved to Colorado, Grandma had a fit (about Hobie)," Dodd said.
Hobie stayed with Grandma.
The brindle bulldog is unusual for the breed, Dodd said "He's solid as a rock."
To that you might add "fearless."
When Dodd turned after a missed shot, he noticed Hobie standing rigid. Then he heard the snake. Three-year-old Jackson was five feet away from the dog. Hobie lunged forward. The snake, a six-foot timber rattler, hit Hobie in the face. The snake and dog traded licks. Dodd saw the snake strike the bulldog twice more, both times in the face.
Hobie began to wobble. The rattler retreated to a lean-to next to a well house.
"I was barefoot and shirtless," said Dodd. "It was the one time I was without my gun."
Dodd phoned his father, who drove out from town and killed the snake with a shotgun.
By this time Hobie was limp and throwing up. Edmondson and her daughter Susan Edmondson took the bulldog to a local veterinarian, who gave him two injections; they then took him to the Vet School at Mississippi State University. At 12:30 Saturday morning Hobie died.
Early Saturday morning, Dodd brought Hobie back to his grandmother's and buried him in an area near the well house where other pets had been buried.
Dodd and Harvey consider it a miracle that their child wasn't bit by the rattler.
"Jackson walked by that snake at least a couple of times," Dodd said.
"All night my head was racing, full of what ifs," Harvey said.
"People think it's crazy to call a dog a hero," said Dodd. "To me, he's a hero. I believe Hobie saved Jackson's life.
Dodd said in the 45 years his grandmother has lived at that location, they've killed only one snake, a water moccasin. The timber rattler carried six embryos.
The loss of Hobie was like a death in the family.
"My grandma was traumatized," Dodd said. "That dog slept at the foot of her bed. That dog was like a kid to her.
Adam Dodd, who has had to watch from afar, said the ordeal has been "heartbreaking."
"But what a dog," he said. "He was her reason for getting out of bed in the morning. She took care of him, and he took care of her."
Birney Imes III is Publisher of The Dispatch.
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