A dog is being hailed as a hero by the hikers she saved from a potential rattlesnake attack over Father’s Day weekend.
Diane Castañaon and her husband, John Forsyth, were hiking Sunday on the Matt Davis Trail in Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin County, California with their dog, Mighty Shakira. About three feet ahead of Diane, the year-old Anatolian shepherd suddenly stopped short.
“Shakira suddenly jumped backwards and went immediately into a stiff alert posture with her tail and ears up,” John explained. “She kept backing up into my wife and would not let her pass. My wife looked over Shakira’s shoulder and spotted this snake right on the trail exactly where she was planning her next foot strike.”
He said both their and the dog’s actions kept the snake from taking a defensive strike position.
“Shakira did not bark or growl,” John said. “She kept the snake from coiling and going on the offensive. By stopping my wife in her tracks, she prevented her from the danger.”
Shakira was leashed, and John was able to guide her away from the snake and snap a photo. He tossed a few stones in the rattler’s direction – not to harm, just to encourage to move away from the trail.
“Shakira saved my wife from what could have been a disastrous encounter,” John said. “The rest of the hike, Shakira took it very slow and was constantly on alert. She refused to allow anyone to get in front of her on the trail.”
Since rattlesnake bites are 25 times more deadly to dogs than to humans, it is highly recommended that dogs living in areas these snakes inhabit be vaccinated against them regularly. It costs about $30, and can delay the effects of a bite, as well as reduce the severity and increase the chances of recovery.
John says Shakira began showing her leadership skills from the time she was a young puppy.
“When she was 10 months old she began using a dog pack that carried water and a First-Aid kit,” he said. “I have learned that Shakira’s instincts guided her to protect us from a dangerous situation as opposed to confronting and engaging the danger. We are very proud of her and grateful she is part of the family.”