It was Memorial Day weekend when my husband Matt and I decided to take Sadie along for what would be her second-ever camping trip. She snored in the backseat as we drove 45 minutes to Angeles National Forest, not far from Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, where we'd adopted Sadie 2 years prior.
We hadn't even tried to book a campsite in the Forest, itself; it was one of the busiest weekends of the year. Instead, we ventured off-the-beaten path to Devil's Canyon, a wilderness area. A sign at the trailhead warned of bears. Looking back, I almost wish we'd encountered bears rather than the more elusive serpents of that aptly named canyon.
We pulled off Sadie's harness nearly as soon we began our descent. She'd gallop ahead and then stay, waiting for us to appear around each bend. She snuggled between our two sleeping bags at night in our tent on the beach of a creek that ran through the canyon. The next morning, after breakfast, we decided to take a hike. Sadie leaped like a gazelle through the tall grasses, chasing lizards and smiling as her tail spun like a propeller. She was so happy.
It was nearing noon when we decided it was time to pack up and prepare lunch. Matt suggested we refill our canteen with water from the stream, using our newly purchased filtration system. We crouched at the water's edge; Matt, squeezing the pump and I, holding the canteen.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sadie swinging something. I turned my head, and screamed, "DROP IT!" Sadie dropped what I feared she'd picked up: a snake. We ran to her side and she stared at the 3-foot-long reptile gyrating in the ripples. Matt grabbed a large rock and smashed the snake's head.
For a moment, we laughed nervously. Maybe it was already dead. But then Matt noticed Sadie was bleeding. There were several pairs of puncture wounds on her face. Read more ->