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Yay, it’s spring! You know what that means … Mother Nature is welcoming new life.

“Look,” I pointed out the car window, “baby moo cows.”

“Baby moo cows?” Thomas asked.

“Yeah, aren’t they adorable?”

“I’m curious,” he said. “Why not say baby cows or, better yet, calves? Is there a reason you add the ‘moo’?”

“Duh, so you know what kind of cow it is.”

“There are cows that make different sounds than ‘moo’?”

“Yeah.”

“Name one.”

I sighed.

“Thomas, I’m not wasting my time on this conversation. Educate yourself and watch more National Geographic.”

He shook his head.

“Stop the car!” I yelled. “The mama duck is walking her baby ducks across the street.”

“Not baby quack quack ducks?” Thomas asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Right,” he laughed. “I’m the ridiculous one.”

“National Geographic,” I enunciated each word. “Thank goodness you teach accounting and not zoology, or all your students would come out of class with fewer brain cells than when they went in.”

He shook his head again.

“Just so you know,” I said, “I’m going for a bike ride when we get home, then taking the pups to the dog park.”

“Don’t forget,” Thomas said, “it’s May, and baby moo cows and baby quack quack ducks aren’t the only animals that arrive in May.”

“You’re right,” I shivered. “Don’t assume a stick is a stick. I think I’m just going to the dog park. It’s safer.”

We arrived home, and I asked Eddy and Maisy, “Who wants to play with their friends?”

Their ears perked.

“Wanna go to the dog park?”

You know, I don’t think there’s anything I get as excited about as the pups do about the dog park. I’m totes jealous.

I suited ’em up and clicked them into their seatbelts. I couldn’t open the windows fast enough. It was a pleasant drive with Maisy’s head hanging out one side of the car and Eddy’s the other.

As usual, the pups had a wonderful time chasing other dogs, smelling butts and saying, “Hi, pet me,” to the humans.

When the pups are ready to leave, their modus operandi is to sit next to me, but that day was different. I knew they’d run their little hearts out and were exhausted, but even though I called to them, I couldn’t get them to come to me. Instead, they were very excited about something on the rocks.

The weather had steadily warmed the past couple of weeks, and the snow in the man-made pond had melted, leaving the rocks dry.

I walked around the edge of the dry pond to find them barking and hopping around a giant stick. Well, it was more like a 5-foot limb.

“No!” I yelled. “Get away from it!”

“Mom!” Eddy barked. “Look at our new friend!”

My mind immediately replayed a conversation with my dad when I told him we were moving to Colorado.

“Krista,” he drawled. “You need a dog. They don’t like snakes.”

My dad was right. They didn’t like the snake; they LOVED it.

“Stop!” I panicked, running back and forth. “No! No! No!”

By this point, Maisy and Eddy were all worked up and called over ALL their dog friends. I did my part and let their parents know what was happening. “Snake!”

The humans on the shore were yelling at their excited fur-bark-babies and, like me, were being totally ignored. An eagle flying overhead even tried to help, crying out its disdain. At least I thought that’s what it was saying. I was wrong.

“Get out of the way!” the eagle shrieked. “I’m coming in.”

With a thankful heart, I watched the eagle swoop between the snake and the dogs. However, the limb wasn’t its target. Instead, it was the writhing ball of sticks nestled out of sight in the rocks it snatched with its talons.

Yes, it was a flying nightmare! But not for long.

The eagle, in its excitement, overestimated the weight of a writhing ball of sticks and had a difficult time climbing out of the dry pond. Then, with a vigorous shake of its talons, the ball broke in half, and it was raining mating hissing snakes. Not on the dogs, but on the adult screaming humans.

Raiders of the Lost Ark had nuthin’ on us.

To be honest, I don’t know what happened next. Did I pass out? Not sure. Did I run? No idea. But I found myself huddled on the ground and shaking with a stranger rubbing my back. Eddy and Maisy were happily sitting next to me, ready to go home.

“Did someone call Animal Control?” I stuttered.

“No, honey,” the stranger said, “they were bull snakes, not rattlesnakes. Animal Control lets them be.”

I looked at Maisy and Eddy, “We’re never coming here again. I’m teaching you how to run alongside my bike.”

Maisy and Eddy each took a side of my face and licked away my tears then barked at their dog friends, “See ya tomorrow!”

Krista Vance is a former Champaign resident. While she now calls northern Colorado home, she spent five wonderful years here and misses great friends, corn and big-sky sunsets.

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