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Dog defends boy from snake
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CUTLINE Cody Hackney, 6, is shown with his grandmother’s dog, Todd, who protected him from a copperhead Friday. (Contributed photo)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

By KIM BARTO - Bulletin Staff Writer

A small dog showed courage beyond his size when he stood up to a copperhead Friday evening, protecting a 6-year-old boy from harm.

Cody Hackney, a first-grader at Campbell Court Elementary School, encountered the copperhead while walking Todd, a 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier.

Todd was bitten by the snake but is on his way to recovery, according to Cody's mother, Sharon Hackney.

"If it hadn't been for Todd, the snake would've bit Cody," said Hackney, who lives in Henry.

The dog belongs to Sharon Hackney's mother, Irene Greer, also of Henry. The family was visiting Greer shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, as they do every day.

"Cody goes out there every day to help walk (Todd) and play with him," Sharon Hackney said.

Hackney was outside with Cody, who had Todd on a leash, and they had stepped off the sidewalk to get a closer look at some deer in the grass.

All of a sudden, Hackney said, Cody started screaming. There was a copperhead coiled up a few inches in front of his shoe.

"Todd started growling," Hackney said. "He jumped right in there between Cody and the snake and kept his little paw up the whole time."�

Meanwhile, Cody was "scared to death," she said. "He dropped the leash and took off running."�

Todd faced off with the copperhead and stood his ground, even when the snake bit him on the jaw.

"Even after it bit him, he didn't move - he kept growling," Hackney said of the dog, which weighs less than 15 pounds. "I had to jerk on the leash and pull him back."�

Cody was "whiter than chalk and shaking all over," she added. "As fast as he was running, I wasn't sure if he'd been bitten or what."�

When Hackney caught up to her son, she found he was unharmed.

As for the copperhead, "My brother-in-law ran over it a few times with a four-wheeler," Hackney said.

Meanwhile, Todd's face and neck started to swell, and he wouldn't let anyone touch him except Greer, Hackney said. His usual veterinarian's office was closed, so they started calling around to find one that was open on a Friday night. They ended up taking the terrier to Emergency Veterinary Services in Roanoke.

"It was a frightening experience," Hackney said. "As soon as we got him in there (to the veterinary hospital), they took him in and gave him anti-venom."�

The dog used to belong to Greer's son, Kevin Greer, who died Jan. 13 at age 25 from injuries sustained in a car accident. Greer "loves Todd to death," Hackney said, and prayed that he would recover.

Todd stayed in the hospital until Sunday, when they sent him home with painkillers and antibiotics.

Hackney thought they might have to take Todd back to the hospital when the dog kept throwing up Sunday and Monday, but the doctor said to keep coaxing him to drink water. On Tuesday, he finally started eating food, she said.

The dog's face is "still swollen, but not like it was," Hackney said, although "you can see the little marks on his face where (the snake) bit him."�

Todd is expected to make a full recovery, she said.

"The main concern now is to watch for bacteria and infection" at the site of the wound, she added.

Cody doesn't like to discuss the incident, but he tells people, "Todd's my hero," Hackney said.

"We always tell him, if you see a snake, get away from it," she added. "Even Todd don't walk in the grass now - he stays on the pavement."�


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