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Tracey And The Cobra

Ratty and I were in Ahmedabad, to spend a few days with Freya, and our three dogs were with us. It was the 10h of November, 2009 and, as usual, we called the dogs into our room while retiring for the night. Our Pugs – Twinkle and her daughter, Tammy — merrily made their way in at once, while Tracey, our Cocker Spaniel, stood outside the bedroom door, reluctant to enter. She normally liked being in the bedroom, often enjoying a nap in there all by herself. In fact, most nights she would be the first one to get in when called – sometimes even anticipating our move and preceding us into the bedroom. This behavior, therefore, was unusual for her.

On being repeatedly called, and with the threat of being locked out of the room for the night, she finally crept in, tail down and body crouching. She took a wide circle, brushing against the cupboards to avoid getting close to the bed, towards which she kept casting fearful sideways glances.

It was then that I realized that there could be something under our bed that she was afraid of. Sensing possible danger, I asked Ratty to get all three dogs out of the room immediately, while I reached out for my small Maglite, got down on hands and knees, and shone it under the low bed. Now, with my head almost touching the floor, I could clearly see what Tracey had sensed and warned us of — a cobra, head raised, hood spread, looking straight at me from barely three feet away.

Cobra
The cobra just out from under the bed, before being caught
Tete-a-tete with Lochen
Tete-a-tete with Lochen
Caught, bewildered, but defiant
Caught, bewildered, but defiant

As we were on the ground floor, and there was a garden just outside, small frogs often wandered in. The cobra had probably followed them, hoping to get itself a meal. As I enjoy observing and photographing all creatures great and small, I was more excited than scared, and the first thing I thought of was to get hold of my camera. Although Ratty did not share my enthusiasm in the face of what would make most people paranoid, I did manage to get a few shots before Lochen arrived on the scene with his tongs. Being an experienced and sought-after snake-catcher, he caught the three-foot-long cobra, and sealed it in a plastic container. Next morning we drove with it to an open field and released it, taking the opportunity to take some more clear photographs in bright sunlight.

In the can, just before being released
In the can, just before being released

And did Tracey spend a sleepless night after this episode? Not at all! Once the cobra was caught and put away in the plastic can for the night, Tracey was completely relaxed, and was her normal self.

Tracey
Tracey

One may well ask, “How did Tracey detect the danger?” Well, it is unlikely that she actually saw the cobra, as she behaved strangely even before entering the room. And it was quite dark under the bed, in any case. Was it the cobra’s scent? Could be. Or was it her sixth sense? We’ll never really know, but it sure is great to have a dog like her around, isn’t it?

But, then, how is it that the Pugs didn’t have a clue about this lurking danger? Well, perhaps, they did know, but being extremely friendly by nature, they may not have felt that there was any cause for alarm! In fact, I’m sure that they would have approached the cobra and said, “Hi! Let’s have a ball!” – and probably have got bitten by a confused cobra. We know how embarrassingly friendly Twinkle and Tammy are – they’d even let a burglar in with tails wagging. Different breeds, different characteristics.

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