TODDLER Louis Marr owes his life to a heroic family pet.
Louis, 14 months old and only able to walk for three weeks, was playing in his Bridge St backyard on Wednesday when a two-metre long, deadly eastern brown snake entered the yard and approached the youngster.
His parents Jimmy and Toni Marr said they feared he could have been killed if it hadn't been for the actions of the family's 10-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Elenore.
"We were doing a bit of gardening and I thought it strange that the dog was hovering around us as she normally sleeps throughout the day," Mrs Marr said.
"Louis has just learnt to walk so he loves exploring the backyard and spending time playing in the garden," she said.
The dog, having seen one of the world's deadliest snakes approach the youngster, instinctively attacked the snake to divert attention away from young Louis.
"Elenore saw the snake and immediately attacked it, protecting us from it," Mrs Marr said.
"It was a miracle that Louis did not get bitten," she said.
The brave staffie killed the snake, but unfortunately sustained a deadly bite and died shortly afterwards.
"I dread to think what would have happened if Louis had been bitten," Mrs Marr said.
"It would almost certainly have killed him."
Mrs Marr, a registered nurse, is thankful for the actions of the family's brave pet which averted a Christmas tragedy.
"After I got Louis safely back inside, Elenore was just lying on her bed hyperventilating and she just passed away," Mrs Marr said.
"She was such a great dog.
"It is very sad that she was killed, but she is definitely a brave hero in our eyes."
Mrs Marr, who said she was extremely shaken by the incident, said she still thought of the consequences if her beloved son had been bitten.
"We waited a very long time to have Louis and words cannot describe what heartbreak we would have felt if we had lost him," Mrs Marr said.
"It could have been a very tragic and heartbreaking Christmas for us."
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