HE'S never had a nose for trouble before but black labrador Bronson sure knows how to turn heads with his retrieving tricks.
The champion obedience dog stunned his Victorian owners when he recently returned to them to proudly show off his latest find.
Locked firmly in his jaws and coiled around his snout was a long, live snake, believed to be a deadly copperhead.
"He's normally an excellent duck dog but he'll pick up absolutely anything and return it to us, hanging on to it until we say 'give'," Deborah Allen said.
"My husband Peter didn't know he'd lost his mobile phone out in a paddock recently until Bronson returned with it in his mouth."
The couple were lucky to be at home together at their property at Yarragon on January 4 when Mr Allen called out to his wife: "Hey, come and look at this."
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"There was Bronson with the snake hanging out of his mouth and the snake's body wrapped around his nose," Ms Allen said.
"We weren't sure if it was alive or not and we touched its head which was down at ground level and it moved - it appeared slightly stunned."
As they grappled with a plan to deal with the snake, Mr Allen told his wife to quickly take a photo first.
"He didn't reckon anyone would believe it," she said.
With a camera always by her side, Ms Allen captured the stunning sight as perfectly obedient Bronson, 11, remained totally rigid, trained not to move his head while carrying anything he had retrieved.
"But he had a real forlorn look on his face like he was saying 'Hurry up and take this thing'," Ms Allen said.
Ms Allen said their second labrador, Madeline, usually tried to steal anything Bronson was carrying.
"But this is the first time ever she wouldn't have a bar of him. She kept well away."
Ms Allen found a chaff bag and lowered it to the ground, pulling the bag up and over the snake while at the same time releasing its body which remained wrapped around Bronson's snout.
"And as soon I said 'Give' he dropped it right into the bag and we sealed up the ends."
With the snake safely stored, the pair rushed Bronson to the West Gippsland Veterinary Centre where a coagulation blood test confirmed Bronson had copped a bite.
Four days in hospital followed on a drip, but Bronson is now happily at home.
Australian Veterinary Association president Peter Gibbs said an alarming number of pets had been brought to clinics this summer for treatment of snake bites.
"Snakes tend to be at their most active towards the end of day, with snake bites usually happening in late afternoon or early evening," Dr Gibbs said.
"Dog owners should avoid snake-prone areas."
Symptoms of snakebite include seizures, vomiting, bleeding around the bite, weakness in the limb and paralysis. The animal will collapse with laboured breathing.
Urgent treatment is needed but call ahead so they have antivenene on standby.