Lap dog Josh puts life at risk to save mom from Mozambican spitting cobra

Josh, a pure-bred wire-haired fox terrier, during his time in hospital. Picture: Supplied

Josh, a pure-bred wire-haired fox terrier, during his time in hospital. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 9, 2023


Pretoria - Josh the pure-bred wire-haired fox terrier is a lap dog and the apple of his daddy’s eye.

However, when a Mozambican spitting cobra was ready to attack his human mother, the 4-year-old, together with his sister of the same breed, did not think twice before pouncing on the snake.

Josh was bitten in the face and had to spend several days at Valley Farm Animal Hospital in Pretoria. He was released a week ago and is still recovering at home.

His fearless conduct, however, left him with a gash in the face.

Owner Veronica Baartman, who lives on a smallholding in Bela-Bela with her husband George, is still in shock about what happened.

“He is my husband’s dog, his shadow, his best friend and his life. He and his sister Amy are like our children and wherever we are, they are.”

Veronica said on January 23 she and her husband woke later than usual due to load shedding. When she took the plates back to the kitchen after breakfast, she suddenly saw the spitting cobra in front of her with its head reared, ready to strike.

“I took a few steps backwards and shouted. Josh, who was sitting on my husband’s lap, jumped up and with his sister, stormed the snake. My husband and I wanted to stop the dogs, but the next moment the snake was dead, with his head half bitten off.”

The Baartmans at first did not think the snake had a chance to hurt the dogs, and saw no wounds. But soon afterwards Josh battled to breathe.

Veronica contacted the “Wire-haired Group” to ask for help and received numbers to phone, but no one answered. She also could not get help from a local vet. They were told about Valley Farm Animal Hospital and rushed to Pretoria with Josh.

“We switched on our hazard lights and sped, arriving after midnight.”

By then Josh was seriously struggling to breathe. The hospital only had one vial of anti-venom, and he was immediately treated with it.

Veronica said they went back the next day to visit Josh in hospital, but things did not look good and he was attached to a heart monitor. He also had to be given oxygen.

“The vet said Josh should have received three vials of anti-venom, but as there is a shortage, it was hoped his courage would carry him through – and it did.”

For several days Josh fought for his life. Veronica said the response of friends and people on social media was amazing. The hospital, meanwhile, managed to obtain two more vials and from there things went better.

One of the well-wishing messages for Josh. Picture: Supplied

Veronica said the medicine, “together with the prayers and the love shown by the vets who treated him”, saved his life. Her grandson, 11, also wrote several letters to Josh which stood by his side at hospital, wishing him a speedy recovery.

Josh was elated when he was discharged a week ago and saw his human dad. But Veronica said this had been a tough week for him, as he was still battling to eat. The snake venom has also left severe tissue damage.

She said she was proud and grateful for her furry boy, who saved her life without regard for his own.

Pretoria News