By Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondent

Gypsy, a member of the cast off club, showed up in the driveway of Jimmie and Sunshine William's home one Tuesday. "Her tail was wagging and she seemed to be saying, 'Here I am, now what are you going to do with me'," Sunshine said. "She hadn't been thrown out long and was in pretty good shape except that she was absolutely loaded with fleas."

"We really didn't want another dog," Sunny continued, "I didn't feed her hoping that she would just go away. I kept wondering why the water was disappearing from my bird feeder during the three days I stood firm in my decision not to let this mutt-breed dog hang around. Gypsy was obviously a hunter and fed herself on the squirrels and rabbits around our place. The water in my bird feeder was all she needed to sustain herself while she waited for me to change my mind about letting her stay."

Mrs. Williams didn't have a chance. In addition to her history of rescuing animals thrown out on a road she often travels, this dog had winning ways. "Every time I went outside," Sunshine said, "she would come up close, smiling as only a dog can smile and say in her own way, 'You're not mean. I'll make a good dog'. "Finally I couldn't stand it any more and sent Jimmie to town to buy dog feed and a flea collar."

Then, after the initial trip to the veterinarian, Gypsy took up permanent residence at the William's home. "The front porch has been hers for over two years now." Sunshine said. "In the wintertime, she has her own heating pad to sleep on, and when it gets hot in the summertime, she sleeps in the inside foyer. She is a good outside dog making daily trails around the edge of the yard chasing squirrels and stray cats. She stays by my side when I am outside tending my flowers."

It was a win-win situation, Gypsy had a home and Jimmie and Sunshine had a dedicated guard dog. And then - something happened to disturb the peace and tranquility of their home in the woods. "We heard a howl from outside," Sunshine said. "Then we found Gypsy in a dazed condition coming out of the woods. "She had been bitten! BY A RATTLESNAKE!"

The rattlesnake died after Jimmie shot it, but miraculously, Gypsy survived. According to her vet, dogs usually die within thirty minutes of a rattlesnake bite. But Gypsy was in luck again. Her adopted people nursed her through the weeks of extreme pain and discomfort while paying the expense of the snakebite treatment. A week after she was bitten, she was still so sick that Sunshine was ready to put her down. Gypsy was not eating, her head was swollen, and both eyes were shut. After consulting, Sunshine and the vet agreed that since Gypsy had fought this long they should give her another chance. So they continued to feed her soft dog food by hand until she was able to get up and eat. Water was offered in the palm of Sunny's hand until she was able to drink from her bowl. It was a long and difficult recuperation.

"Dogs can worm their way into your heart," Sunshine Williams said. "I cried during the time Gypsy was so sick, but now, she is fat and sassy, waiting at the door every morning for a handout. Then she makes her daily guard dog rounds avoiding the area where she met up with the rattlesnake."

Gypsy survives snakebite