SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA -- Daniel Whitman never heard the rattle but his dog Boone must have seen something because he came running over anyway.
The 14-year-old Whitman was supposed to be cleaning up after Boone in the backyard of their home on Norumbega Drive last week. He was walking over to the corner where Boone likes to do his business when the dog rushed over.
"Daniel was headed in that direction and that's when I think Boone had noticed something different and darted over there and got between the two of them," said Dan Whitman, the teen's father.
That's when the younger Whitman saw the rattlesnake, and he shouted to his dad and ran inside. The dog soon followed, and he stayed with Daniel for some time afterward.
"He just stuck by Daniel's side," Dan Sr. said. "He followed Daniel all around the house. He did not leave his side."
What the family didn't know was that before Boone came back in the house, he had been bitten. They soon found out, however. Nothing was visible, but the 5-year-old Siberian Husky mix started behaving strangely about 20 minutes later.
"There didn't appear to be anything physically wrong with him," Whitman said. "He started to kind of twist his head funny and look up at the ceiling like he was in pain."
Whitman knew something was wrong. A retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy, he also knew that they didn't have much time to save Boone.
So Whitman called 911 and let the police know they had a rattlesnake in the backyard. Then he called on Lime Avenue and was was eventually directed to the only local place that carries anti-venom and is open after-hours, a veterinary clinic in El Monte.
"I ran him down there real quick. Got him there within 40 minutes of the bite," Whitman said.
The anti-venom saved Boone's life, but he still sustained serious injuries. Rattlesnake venom is an anti-coagulant and it causes tissue destruction, according to David Garcia, a registered veterinary technician who has since treated Boone.
The venom killed the tissue on Boone's snout where he was bitten, and the flesh there started falling off in chunks, Whitman said. The wound has "just progessively gotten larger," he said.
And the dog's face also swelled up severely the morning after the bite.
"In the morning his face had gotten the size of a canteloupe," Whitman said.
Garcia said Boone is expected to recover, but not before the Whitmans had to shell out $500 for rattlesnake anti-venom. The dog could have been saved a lot of pain and suffering if he was vaccinated against rattlesnake venom.
Garcia recommended that every dog owner living above Hillcrest Boulevard get the vaccine after seeing four other cases of dogs with rattlesnake bites over the last month. With the vaccine, a dog's bite survival rate increases, though it would still need to be treated with anti-venom, Garcia said.
Whitman said he was going to make it his mission to raise the awareness of the need for pet owners to get their dogs vaccinated. In the meantime, he's grateful for what Boone did to protect his son.
"I'm sad that Boone took the bite but I'm thankful my son didn't," he said.