Update: Many Distractions, but Good News!

So, I didn’t want to post about this anywhere until it was clear she would be okay, but —


She got bitten by a copperhead at dawn Friday morning. First time in twenty-five years or thereabouts. It happened because of pure owner inattention and stupidity, because the copperhead was extremely obviously lying coiled up on the road, but I wasn’t watching at all and the first I knew about it was Morgan saying YIP and jumping backward.

I couldn’t find any sign of a bite, but there was that yip, so I wasn’t sure. I flipped the dogs’ leads around a tree, got a big, long stick, and went back to confirm that the snake was a copperhead (I knew very well it was a copperhead). It was cool enough that morning that the snake wasn’t particularly active. It had just stayed right there. After confirming that it was indeed a copperhead, I used the stick to shove it off the road so it wouldn’t get squished by a car. I mean, it wasn’t the snake’s fault I was an idiot and let Morgan put her face up to it. Then I went back and looked again. No obvious sign of the bite, but Morgan rubbed her face with her foot, so I thought yep, she was bitten. I went home, waited ten minutes till the vet opened, called the vet, and said to the tech who answered the phone, “Cindy! Morgan was bitten by a copperhead. I have Benadryl right here. Should I give her that or bring her in?” So, you know, having Benadryl on hand was lucky. That’s not why I had it, but it’s a good reason to make sure I never run out. She got Benadryl right then and Carprofen an hour later and of course came to work with me. At first she was too sick to enjoy that, but the drugs made a lot of difference and she was going to students for attention by that afternoon. I was warning people very sharply not to touch her face, but to pet her shoulder and chest, and I was sure happy to see she wanted attention and petting. (You have to speak in an extremely sharp tone to get people to listen to you when they want to pet a little dog; I learned that when I had Papillons.)

Benadryl and Carprofen around the clock for three days. Every time I gave her a pill, I set an alarm for the next pill. She didn’t show a lot of swelling, and it came on rather slowly and was worse Friday evening into Saturday, then eased off and was gone by Sunday afternoon. This morning she no longer seemed bothered when I touched her face. I still don’t know exactly where she was bitten except definitely on the head somewhere. I looked in her mouth because it turns out a good many dogs are bitten on the tongue, and I don’t think so because her tongue looked fine the whole time. A lot of copperhead bites cause some degree of tissue necrosis. I don’t see any signs of hair loss or any tissue damage, but I’ll be looking carefully at her mouth and face for a few days yet before I relax about that.

I think the bite was not quite “dry,” but not far from it. Lucky, lucky Morgan, and I don’t expect to miss another snake that is TOTALLY OBVIOUS and RIGHT THERE in plain sight. Lots of information about snakebite out there, much of it kind of over the top with a kind of hysterical tone, but here is a non-panicky, informative site that I think is good for information about copperhead bites on pets. I will add that my own vet’s staff didn’t think it was necessary for Morgan to actually come in given that I had Benadryl and Carprofen on hand and could report that she wasn’t showing problems with breathing or huge swelling or anything like that.

Morgan, picture taken last month, her face looks just like this as of this morning.


By Friday afternoon, I was pretty sure Morgan was going to be fine, which made the weekend much less stressful. However, I didn’t make a lot of progress on SILVER CIRCLE because —

A) You know how I said I would include little Ugaro (and probably eventually) Lau stories in my newsletter? Well, I want to send out a newsletter maybe October 1, and there I was, not having written any such stories. So early last week, I went through Tuyo, Tarahana, and Tasmakat, collecting references to stories and made a list. Then on Saturday, I picked one, and wrote a story. You remember when Ryo told Tathimi the story about the boy and the fox, changing the boy to a girl for that particular story? It ends, “So the girl let the fox go, and that is why the little foxes of the north turn white in winter.” Something like that, that’s probably not exact working.

I wrote that story. It took almost all Saturday, not that I wasn’t doing other things, of course, but that was where Saturday went. I changed the girl back to a boy because that provided the kind of minor problem that worked for this story. It was kind of neat writing basically a Just-So story. I resisted the urge to write, “And that, Best Beloved, is why foxes turn white in the winter,” but it was tempting. I added a story hook for another story of the same type, too.

I won’t put these little stories anywhere but the newsletter for quite a while, but eventually, when I do a second Tuyo World Companion to add all the new worldbuilding stuff, I’ll include them all in that. A bit early to look that far forward, but maybe in 2026 or 2027, depending on how fast I write other novels in the Tuyo world.

B) I started re-reading Black Dog. First time in years I’ve read through that one. I’m happy to say that I still like it, but I’m tweaking it just a tiny, tiny bit where I forgot some detail and therefore have introduced something inconsistent.

C) Being immersed in the Invictus world for so long means that the first scene of a potential sequel came to me, and I realized that I’m probably more likely to write something if I’ve got the first scene actually written down, so I started that scene. Honestly, I ought to also write the first scene of a NFS sequel for the same reason. While I’m at it, maybe the first scenes for Tano’s next story and Tathimi’s story. And, hey, the first scene of the third Floating Islands story. Really, I should do that. By this time, I’m pretty certain that writing thirty or fifty pages of something and setting it aside does make it more likely that I’ll eventually pick that up and write the whole thing.

I did move forward with SILVER CIRCLE too, just not very far. I’ve got 90 pages sitting here, which is a decent beginning. I’m still guessing I’ll have a draft complete sometime in November, but if it’s December, that’s fine.

So that was last week! This week, much useful work on this and that, I trust, and NO CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH DANGEROUS WILDLIFE. I like snakes very much and would be happy to see another copperhead, but only from a safe distance.

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6 thoughts on “Update: Many Distractions, but Good News!”

  1. Oh my goodness, I’m so glad Morgan is okay!

    My family has been brushing up on venomous snake identification, since we just moved to the South and our dog is exactly the sort who would shove his face into a snake’s. Back home if something wasn’t a rattlesnake, you were fine. Now there are more options!

  2. Red and black, friend of Jack; red and yellow, kill a fellow — king snake vs coral snake. The king snake has red between black bands; the coral snake has red between yellow bands. To me, the black head of the coral snake leaps out, vs the red face of the king snake. I would see that first — I mean, if the head were visible.

    To me, copperheads look VERY distinctive. I’m not sure how to get them confused with any other snake. Apparently people think the milksnake looks like a copperhead? I don’t see it. I mean, at all. The smooth hourglass pattern of the copperhead is nothing like the patchiness of milksnakes. Also very different from juvenile black rat snakes, another one people say looks like a copperhead. Maybe some individuals look more like copperheads.

    The hard ones for me are cottonmouths vs water snakes. I know cottonmouths are supposed to have heavy, blocky heads with a clearly defined neck, but they are really very much the same color and I basically wouldn’t be keen on any dark snake coming toward me in the water.

    Did you know all venomous snakes in North America (except coral snakes) have cat-eyed, slit pupils and all harmless snakes (plus coral snakes) have round pupils? Of course it would perhaps not be wise to get close enough to see the pupil shape, but that’s still a neat thing to know.

  3. Glad Morgan is okay! I would have freaked out.

    A whole lot of Just-So stories in the Tuyo world sounds absolutely fantastic. Crossing my fingers that all the short stories turn out to be in that vein!

  4. Oh, the pupil info IS a neat thing to know! (Although any scenario I can imagine where that would be a practical in-the-moment tip is not a scenario I’d want to be in.)

    Copperheads are absolutely beautiful. Little comfort to those bitten, of course, but still.

    For some reason I learned the rhyme as a kid, in the belief it would be critical life info, which is puzzling since 1, there are no coral snakes in the state, and 2, the kingsnakes are generally dark brown/black with white/yellow bands. I guess Young Me was not actually wrong, though! (Thank you for the red-vs-black face note–I wouldn’t have twigged onto that.)

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