Heater, Mother of Lance

To the rescue, my friend

One afternoon last week, I don’t even remember what day it was (why have I not blocked this event out of my brain entirely?), Tyrant came upstairs into the office and he was carrying Marlo. Let me back up a second and tell you that before Tyrant joined the team here he didn’t really care for kids or dogs, or, you know, being a decent human being. Oh! And I may not be able to get him back for all the pranks he’s pulled on me over the years, but I can have him pick up my tampons:

Marlo is now Tyrant’s favorite little buddy. They make coffee together in the morning, play tag in and out of the living room and routinely go outside and pick flowers. It was on one of these flower-picking excursions in the backyard that Tyrant set Marlo down so he could cut a few stems from one of our blooming trees when suddenly she yelled, “WOOK! A STHNAAAAAKE! A STHNAAAAAKE!”

Gleefully. With much delight. Total euphoria. A snake, you guys! It’s, like, raining fucking panties!

He didn’t give it much thought because he didn’t believe she would know what she was talking about, but then he heard ITS RATTLE.

Yeah. Yep. THAT kind of sthnaaaaake. OF COURSE it was that kind of snake. It couldn’t just be a sweet little garden snake with a jaunty red hat singing the alphabet, no.

OH! And you want to know why she was able to identify a snake? Because she watches a shit ton of “Go, Diego, Go!” So you can go ahead and tell me that television is rotting her brain and I’ll just go ahead and pretend to jerk off.

He turned around to see a four to five foot long rattlesnake just a few feet from Marlo who was pretty much counting how many ways she was going to cuddle that thing. Santa Claus could have been standing there holding a chocolate fountain and she would have run past him to grab that snake and rub her nose on its belly.

Meanwhile Coco was going crazy (surprise!) and jumping at it (JUMPING. AT. IT.), causing it to curl itself up into the shape of my nightmares. It must have been amused at Coco’s posturing because it snapped its head at her but didn’t land a bite, a warning to get the hell away, you stupid little dog, don’t you know it killed a herd of deer before breakfast.

That’s what he came into the office to tell me, that Marlo had found a snake! And not just any old snake! A rattlesnake! In the backyard! Wheeeee!

The? What are… I mean… UH? We have a rattlesnake in our backyard?! Do we all just roll over and die now, because I’m not sure there is any way to go on living and breathing knowing that it could just slither in the door any second and OH. THAT DID IT. THAT IMAGE RIGHT THERE JUST DID ME IN. Next time you see me and it looks like I’m puking air it’s because my face is now frozen that way.

We called animal control (“Hi, remember me? Yeah, I’m the one who freaked out because a bird looked at her. How have you been?”) and they were pretty much useless. They didn’t have any traps for domestic use, so try to avoid it! Right. Try to avoid it. That is such great advice. I never would have thought of it.

I’m concerned about the kids, yes, but I’m more concerned about one, the idiot dog, and two, the morose dog who likes to hide out in the bushes and may accidentally stumble across this thing and can you even imagine the content he’d have for his poetry except oops he’s dead.

Tyrant called the vet who had a myriad of stories to tell, and her advice was to avoid the vaccine and instead take the dogs to snake training. Snake training?! Yeah. That was my reaction, too. You take the dogs into a room with LIVE SNAKES OH MY GOD I’M DEAD.

So, who would like to come sit on my back porch with a gun?

  • Juli71

    2012/05/07 at 1:44 pm

    A snake, a bird, and a bobcat walk into a bar…

    Wow. My first call would have been to a real estate agent. Have no tolerance for snakes – even the cartoon kind.

  • slappyintheface

    2012/05/07 at 1:50 pm

    What kind of NRA member are you? You must have slept through the class, “How to teach your dogs to shoot a gun at snakes … 101”

  • luv and kiwi

    2012/05/07 at 1:51 pm


    I personally like the chopping one. New job for Tyrant!

  • smallbluestars

    2012/05/07 at 1:53 pm

    Look, I grew up in the desert and there is only one appropriate way to handle this, if you don’t have a gun.

    Grab a shovel and cut its goddamned head off.

    And I don’t want to hear any PETA bullshit about “Oh, the poor snake, it’s just trying to live it’s life”. No. CUT. ITS. HEAD. OFF.

  • labsnabys

    2012/05/07 at 1:54 pm

    Snake aversion training for dogs is real and it works. I highly recommend you find a class ASAP. Also, get a snake grabber and sharpen your hoe or shovel. I’ve killed two of those suckers in my yard, and I’ll keep killing them as long as they continue to think it’s okay to live where my family lives.

  • StefWhitt

    2012/05/07 at 1:54 pm

    Step 1) Send Tyrant to Loews to get some “Snake Away” while you gaurd the homeplace with a gun.

    Step 2) Attach open container of “Snake Away” to Coco and tell her the cattle have escaped and let her go.

    Step 3) Get a can of gasoline and have Tyrant (he’s the reason you even know about the snake so he should suffer) douse the backyard and throw a match on it.

    Step 4) Deal with the appropirate authorities and Neighborhood Assoicaition but sleep better at night knowing there’s one crispy STHNAAAAAKE! out there.

  • Sarasnee

    2012/05/07 at 1:54 pm

    Our dog has been bitten by a rattlesnake. Not on one occasion. Not on TWO occasions. THREE TIMES.

    The vaccine is the way to go if your dog is an idiot like mine. He gets one every year now. He can’t prance around the yard like a normal dog – no. He has to find all things smaller than himself to try to kill them.

    Seriously, Diego is an asshole if he isn’t teaching Marlo to stay AWAY from snakes. Note to self: Choose a different show as my TV parent.

  • suebob

    2012/05/07 at 1:54 pm

    Animal control? We don’t need no stinking animal control. I killed the snake myself: http://www.flickr.com/photos/suebobdavis/27019876/

    It was an adrenaline high like an Olympic 100 meter run!

    This is why you should let me move into your spare bedroom. Just in case.

  • labsnabys

    2012/05/07 at 1:57 pm

    Oh yeah, I forgot to say make sure you are wearing boots or at least full-cover shoes when you go out to kill the snake. They are attracted to the warmth put off by bare feet or feet in sandals or flip flops.

  • dooce

    2012/05/07 at 2:00 pm

    @suebob YOU ARE A BADASS.

  • deepthoughts78

    2012/05/07 at 2:01 pm

    OMG! Thank goodness no one was bitten.

    Move to Michigan! You can stay with me. It might be cold here for a good part of the year but we don’t have many deadly critters anywhere. My number one reason to never move out of state. Ever.

  • tokenblogger

    2012/05/07 at 2:07 pm

    Didn’t you check the lawn and garden store for some kinda snake-away repellant?

    That’s sounds like a product to me!

    Just sprinkle around the yard and whammo! No more snakes!

  • tokenblogger

    2012/05/07 at 2:06 pm

    I just checked. There really is such a product:


    Holy Crap!

  • Sarasnee

    2012/05/07 at 2:06 pm

    On a sad note, the dogs are super pitiful if they ever do get bitten. He looked like Droopy Dog for about a week.

  • dooce

    2012/05/07 at 2:07 pm

    @tokenblogger there is snake-away repellant, except there are kids in every direction from our house. I don’t want to send it into someone else’s yard who has kids.

  • ladygray

    2012/05/07 at 2:08 pm

    Okay, they may not roll this way in SLC but where I grew up (outside Sacramento, CA) we had companies whose EXCLUSIVE function was to trap rattlesnakes and remove them.

    (We had friends who found the friendly lil buggers in places like… oh, under their coffee table.)

    We’d see the truck at the grocery store and when you’d walk by you could hear them all sliter-rattling around in the back. No joke.

    I don’t know if any entrepeneurial SLC residents have a similar business, but it sounds like it’s worth a Google search.

    Good luck!

  • ladygray

    2012/05/07 at 2:10 pm

    Here we go:


    be forewarned, the image of the snake being removed from inside someone’s interior wall might induce the pukes.

    also, there’s apparently a senior citizen discount so… have Tyrant call. 😉

  • tokenblogger

    2012/05/07 at 2:13 pm

    @ladygray: See, I’m thinking that they trap ’em and then release ’em around the next subdivision.

    It’s a all about recycling their business.

  • Mom Gone Mad

    2012/05/07 at 2:14 pm

    Smallbluestars is correct. You MUST have a shovel handy just in case. Stefwhitt is also right – get some SNAKE AWAY right now and put it down around the border of your yard. I live in AZ as well and rattlesnakes are a common nusiance. They just found one at work – Can you imgaine that? They actually told us to look under our desks before sitting down. Holy guacamole!!! I have got to win the lottery SOON.

  • juliemewood

    2012/05/07 at 2:14 pm

    Up until now, I thought you lived close to the U but now I’m thinking the Hogle Zoo may be close by you. Yes?
    Seriously woman.

  • ladygray

    2012/05/07 at 2:14 pm



    you should start this kind of business yourself, you clearly have the acumen. 🙂

  • tokenblogger

    2012/05/07 at 2:16 pm

    @dooce: Good call — unless one is surrounded by really annoying yard apes…

    I kid.


  • melanie

    2012/05/07 at 2:17 pm

    maybe now is a good time to call your local ward leader or bishop or mormon wizard or whatever they call it. i bet THEY have a shovel.

    seriously, i would be petrified, too. i want to have really useful advice, but in truth i’d probably never leave the house again, and would finally give in to homeschooling my kids. indoors. i personally rely on my husband to solve problems like this. maybe in addition to giving the dogs snake training, and teaching miss marlo that cuddling snakes is *bad*, you could also send tyrant to target practice at your local shooting range?

  • tokenblogger

    2012/05/07 at 2:20 pm

    @ladygray: Yes, but coming up with this stuff is all I got.


  • hybridshadow

    2012/05/07 at 2:21 pm


    Wow, How scary! No one is going to do anything to help you out? That seems insane! We used to have big snakes in our backyard when we lived near the woods and the whole cul-de-sac came over and ended up chopping their heads off with shovels and hoes. When my mother was carrying the bag of dead snake, the bag started moving and she freaked out. I guess it’s a reflexive thing that happens to the snakes, even though they’re dead. Just a warning to you in case you get tyrant out there to kill the snake. That would probably pay him back for at least the betta fish incident. Make him wear the pink tu-tu while doing it. (Honestly, though, I do not wish harm on Tyrant!) I hope you will all be ok! Is your life ever dull? 🙂

  • debramac

    2012/05/07 at 2:42 pm

    Dude. I’d take a bullet for you but…snake….uh huh. Nope Sorry.

    Advice: I’d move.

    But on the upside I like Tyrant for the first time since the arm prank. That arm prank; that’s a lot of tamponic revenge; first I thought “Buy in small quantities so this gift keeps on giving!” Tell him you don’t like to buy them in bulk because,– insert funny lie.—- The small boxes work better than the big boxes. And that’s important. Or make him return them saying you changed your mind and made a mistake about flow protection. And give him some good questions to ask the sales people also! is there a money-back guarantee on this brand?

    But he rescued your baby from a SNNNAAAKE. I think that equates to a years worth of tampon buying. I checked the conversion guide.

    I’m all for classes. Might want to make Marlo practice the pronunciation so that Tyrant won’t need a baby English class to go on and believe her the next time! And she might need aversion therapy also; thanks Diego. Snake = Very Bad. Very Bad Indeed.

    But I gotta say that in this life I’m only sexist about a few things. Men are in charge of snakes. So, Tyrant, I bet if you man up (not everyone can, but I bet money you can do it!) and begone that snake you might be off the hook over the arm thing. Rescuing babies; that’s instinct and thanks. But make that FN thing gone (before it makes babies, cuz they are even more adorable) and you’ll be promoted!

  • MJBUtah

    2012/05/07 at 2:36 pm

    And now we know Tyrant’s real name! (um, did we know that before?)

    I felt the same way when a lovely tarantula came sauntering up the driveway the week I moved in to my house, and my neighbor casually mentioned that they find them all the time in the garage etc. I was like, that’s it, sell the house I’m moving.

    I don’t do snakes either. Forget the shovel, I would have to run it over with the car. Now you just have to figure out how to get the car into the back yard.

  • ThePeanut

    2012/05/07 at 2:37 pm

    You’re not looking at the bright side to this. That snake would make a KICK ASS pair of pumps. Kill that fucker and call a shoe cobbler! 😉

  • Sabine

    2012/05/07 at 2:43 pm

    Top item on Tyrant’s new shopping list:


  • kmpinkel

    2012/05/07 at 2:55 pm

    This is too easy:

    Send Tyrant back for the super duper oober giant John Holmes sized tampons. Have him also pick up a Nerf rocket thingy-you know the ones that propel the giant foam tampon things-see where I am going with this?

    Simple rocks stuffed towards the end of the tampons, wet them, freeze them and then use. This covers a whole bunch of issues I see here.

    It can take out the snake, most importantly, Tyrant will have so much fun he will never mind about buying tampons again, also, Marlo can participate in the making, thus taking her from Diego and spending more time with nature in stead of some animated version of it. And you thought homeschooling would suck!

  • odonata9

    2012/05/07 at 2:56 pm

    Here in San Diego, rattlesnakes are common in the more desert-y areas, as are the rattlesnake avoidance classes for dogs. I haven’t taken my dog yet, but I’ve heard that they work. Do it!

  • labbit

    2012/05/07 at 3:10 pm
  • atpanda

    2012/05/07 at 3:12 pm

    That is TERRIFYING. That said… last year we had our dogs rattlesnake trained and it was the best freaking thing we’ve ever done. I feel so much safer hiking in the AZ desert now. I know the dogs would warn me if they sensed a snake nearby. Yes, it’s a live snake, but you need to find someone who uses it in a cage. It is not safe at all to use people who believe in dry-biting. Wtf?!

    And look! Here’s videos of my dogs getting rattlesnake trained! If you’ll notice, it only took one time for them to learn to run away from the snake.


  • socaldede

    2012/05/07 at 3:19 pm

    Your post has:

    1.) Me shaking in my smelly Ugg slippers.

    2.) Online buying extra panties from O.com

    3.) Wishing I were in Antartica studying the frozen droppings of Penguins (Chickens of the Ice)


    4.) On the phone with my psychiatrist upping my Wellbutrin, Remeron, Ambien and Trazadone. Way to go Dooce

    disclaimer: The above was written in jest.

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2012/05/07 at 3:30 pm

    Now, I do hate to mention this, but I might hire some critter patrol people to look around the exterior/interior of the house. Snakes like warm places. Houses are warm. We had snakes, who lived in our attic when I was a kid, but they were large black snakes, so *harmless*. My concern would be any ingresses to the house that you might not notice but that a snake would find and think, “Yesssss…Motel Ssssssix!”

    I might also buy a mongoose or two. Surely they can’t be any more crazy than CoCo, and they at least are SNAKE TRAINED by nature.

    Or, I might move. Snakey can live in the cliffs or the desert, but not in my back yard, mother-fucking snakes on a PLANE!!!!!!

    (Clearly I have no rational ideas or thoughts on this and just went full-on Samuel L. Jackson)

  • hanniy

    2012/05/07 at 3:31 pm

    Hey, if you’ll feed me, I’ll sit on your porch with my 16 gauge and take care of that snake for you…no problem!

    I’m quite liberal, but I have no problem shooting something if it’s threatening my animals or family, or if it’s something I can eat. Just ask the possum that killed a couple of my chickens or the tasty wild boar (actually, I shot him with a bow and arrow) that’s on the wall in my office….

  • rmaindc

    2012/05/07 at 3:39 pm

    ,,,make the ‘sthnaaaaake’s’ day…feed Tyrant to him!,,,

  • Diorama

    2012/05/07 at 3:52 pm

    Sorry I didn’t read the comments yet. Heather, call you nearby Universities and ask for someone in the Herpetology dept. This person will likely know someone who can catch a rattlesnake. They use a grabber, like what older people use for things they can reach, but it’s kind of like a hook too. Then the snake can be dropped off somewhere far from your neighborhood. Please don’t kill it just because it’s a rattlesnake.
    If you get nowhere with the University, look for wildlife rescue places, somewhere in your city there has to be a snake guy/gal. Also look for Herpetology groups in your city, they sometimes have a group and hold meetings.

  • Zazzy

    2012/05/07 at 3:53 pm

    When I lived in Wyoming I called animal control about some snakes and was given the following advice. Come down to the office and pick up some snake glue. Paint it on a board and put the board out where I saw the snake until the snake slithers across the board, getting stuck. Pick up the board with the snake and take it somewhere else and pour vegetable oil over the snake to release it. Sounds like a job for Tyrant.

  • crazycatlady

    2012/05/07 at 4:38 pm

    I happen to be one of those people who like snakes but a shovel is effective, as is a hoe. Scooping it up with the shovel, putting it in a cooler, and taking it out of town works too.

  • subjectivitis

    2012/05/07 at 4:40 pm

    I’ve never had any experience with animal control but I hope they aren’t this useless in my neck of the woods. Also, thank God my neck of the woods is not woods. A fucking rattlesnake and all they had to say was, “A rattlesnake? Better watch out!”

  • raneclements

    2012/05/07 at 5:41 pm

    Do the snake training! One of our dogs was bitten by a rattler and the vet bills are scary as was his big puffy, swollen face (the dog’s face, not the vet).

    The snake training is hard to watch but well worth it.

  • Talon

    2012/05/07 at 6:07 pm

    I love Michigan. I love Michigan. I love Michigan.

    The only poisonous snakes we have here are massasauga rattlers, and they’re very shy and timid. They like hardly use their rattles and besides mostly inhabit swamps. Also they eat centipedes for which I love them. There are only like two instances of people dying from massasauga bites and in both cases they didn’t get proper treatment.

    I echo everyone else’s sentiment about having the dogs snake trained and the person who recommended calling the university and asking for the Herp department…that’s GENIUS!! Also your crumbsnatchers take precedence over anyone else’s…if the snake wanders into someone else’s yard, more power to it!! Heck, it was probably chased into YOUR yard by someone doing exactly that, so it’s a whole circle of life thing. Killing it is also a good option, even though I love snakes, and know that most rattlers will flee if they have the chance, but a snake that size can do serious damage to you, to the kids and yep…to the dogs. I don’t shy away from killing varmints, but I DO think snakes get alot of bad rap, so I don’t like to encourage it.

    Note that I would not be so wishy washy were it MY fenced in back yard that a five foot rattle snake had invaded and I had two dogs, one a spaz and the other an emogoth!chick…er…Chuck and two little ‘uns.

    Have Tyrant research your local herpetologist…uh…dangit…societies. They’re everywhere; we almost got a membership for Rip for her birthday one year.

    Um…happy snaking?

  • Diorama

    2012/05/07 at 8:11 pm
  • raynedancer

    2012/05/07 at 9:01 pm

    So, Ellen had this same problem a few weeks ago and she called a snake catcher dude. She even had him on her show. And they say you don’t learn anything from tv! Anyhow, call these guys: http://saltlakecity.crittercontrol.com/
    You’ll have to pay them money to remove your snake, but, hey, how can you put a price on a snake-free house?

  • Jalima

    2012/05/07 at 9:07 pm

    Snake training? Seriously? I can’t even get my dog to sit for crying out loud.

    You not only made him buy tampons but the big ol’ SUPER PLUS?! Brilliant. Next time throw in a tube of KY Jelly and he will really wish for a pink tutu.

  • nikimathias

    2012/05/07 at 9:36 pm

    I also had my dog snake trained last summer – we live in Arizona. It was worth every penny, and I also took videos. Here’s the link to my post with 3 videos:


    Be sure to use a respected snake trainer – the one I used offers free retraining for the life of the dog.

    As for getting rid of the current snake, CALL SOMEONE – don’t kill it yourself!

    == niki

  • Absent Minded Housewife

    2012/05/07 at 10:10 pm

    I’d totally come over and catch your snake for you. I mean, I live in the middle of fecking nowhere and we get critters. You got a garden rake? That’ll hold snake down nicely while you behead it with the shovel. Then you go ahead and skin it and grill it.

    Make Cami a belt.

  • luckymom22

    2012/05/07 at 10:13 pm

    Hi, I’m a single mom here in San Diego. I live near a canyon and rattlesnakes are common. I can deal with almost everything and anything that comes my way but there are two scenarios I won’t even begin to attempt to handle myself: rodents and rattlesnakes. I googled and found this guy in your area who will do rattlesnake “catch and release”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrjNMYSJt30

    Is that a picture of you at :47 on his video? Good luck–but this is one of those things where I would call someone and have them come out while you and your beloved crew are far, far away. You do not want yourself, children or beloved creatures to be bitten!

  • momof8

    2012/05/07 at 11:13 pm

    Oh. my. hell. (and yes, I’m mormon) Have you packed your bags to move somewhere where they DON’T have rattlesnakes yet? Holy crap. And when did you decide to believe Tyrant? Oh my gosh, how did he get Marlo away from it? Holy shit! Has your heart started beating again yet?

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more