BOSTON BAR, B.C. — Austin Forman figures he owes his life to his aptly-named dog Angel. The Golden Retriever saved his eleven-year-old owner Saturday when he stepped between the boy and an advancing cougar.
“I’m pretty sure that if my dog wasn’t there I wouldn’t be here right now,” Austin said Sunday. “Thank goodness we are both alive and she protected me.”
The drama began at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday when Austin was hauling firewood using a wheelbarrow between his family’s woodpile and their Boston Bar home when the predatory cat approached. While trudging through the snow, Austin noticed Angel running around the yard and barking wildly.
“I was about five feet away from the basement door and she had run toward me and that’s when the cougar had attacked her and brought her under the stairs,” Austin said. “It was coming after me and Angel intercepted. The cougar grabbed Angel.”
The animals became entangled in a battle just a metre away from the boy. Uncertain if it was a cougar or another dog, Austin said he stayed long enough to determine it was a big cat before running screaming inside the house.
“That’s when I was in shock and I was frantic,” he said. Boston Bar RCMP Const. Chad Gravelle was finishing paperwork at the station just half a kilometre down the highway when his dispatcher told him about a cougar attack at the Forman home.
Gravelle thought, “I know that family,” jumped in his car and “flew right over,” he said Sunday.
Austin’s mom, Sherri Forman, had phoned 911 while Angel was being mauled in the yard. Before she knew it, Gravelle was through the front door and on the back steps peering down at the fight.
“I could see the cougar had the dog in its mouth, around the dog’s neck. It was chewing on its neck,” Gravelle said.
He fired the first shot from his semi-automatic pistol into the cougar’s hind end — then fired another shot into its head.
“I had my flashlight in one hand and I had my gun in the other hand and I just aimed. It’s not too often we get an aimed shot. They were all wrapped up in each other but I could see the cougar’s head.”
By then, neighbour Travis Conkin had arrived and pulled the cougar off the dog.
“The cougar is lifeless, the dog is lifeless. They are in one ball,” said Conkin.
Then, like a miracle, Angel took a deep and noisy breath. “The dog hasn’t been moving or making sounds for minutes now and it comes back,” said Conkin.
Angel spent Sunday nursing her injuries, but was scheduled to see a vet Monday. She had numerous puncture wounds, a ripped eyelid and injured sinus cavities, but the family expects her to make a full recovery.
“It could have turned out a lot different if it wasn’t for Angel,” said Sherri. “She’s our guardian angel.”