BOSTON BAR, B.C. — The way Lloyd Forman sees it, his 11-year-old grandson was saved by an Angel.
That’s the retriever who protected young Austin from a charging cougar during a bloody, against-all-odds confrontation Saturday in the tiny British Columbia community of Boston Bar, about 200 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.
“The cougar came (from) about five feet away and made a big jump (at Austin),” Forman said Sunday in an interview.
“The dog jumped in between and took on the cougar.”
Austin was in his family’s backyard collecting firewood with his dog when the cougar appeared.
The cougar charged toward the boy, but Angel stepped in and fought off the large cat while Austin ran inside and other family members frantically called for help.
Forman, 72, was sitting down to a bowl of homemade borscht soup when the telephone rang. It was the boy’s mother.
“They phoned here; the cougar was eating the dog alive, they figured. I said, ’Phone 911,”’ Forman recalled. “Fortunately, he (the nearest RCMP officer) was a minute away.”
When the officer arrived, the cougar had Angel under the porch with its teeth around the dog’s neck. The Mountie fired several shots, killing the cougar.
The dog was injured, but is expected to recover. Austin wasn’t hurt.
Austin’s father, Jay Forman, was on his way to work when he stopped by his own father’s house and learned of the attack. He rushed home and arrived soon after the Mountie killed the cougar.
“He (Austin) is doing pretty good — he’s shaken up a bit,” he said.
“I think he’s slowly getting over the fact that he was just about mauled by the cougar, and very grateful his dog took the hit.”
He said the family’s 18-month-old dog is usually quite playful and always running about, but earlier in the day it was quietly following Austin around and making strange noises. In hindsight, the family thinks the dog knew the other animal was near.
“She’s very smart — just incredible,” he said. “She’s still a pup. It is truly amazing that she jumped in front of that cat to save the boy’s life.”
Police distributed a photograph of the dog, standing in the snow but covered in blood. A photo of the cougar shows the bloodied animal lifeless, lying on its back.
Sgt. Peter Thiessen of the RCMP said there’s no question Austin’s encounter with the cougar would have been a lot worse had it not been for his dog.
“The boy was in severe risk,” said Thiessen.
“That cougar was advancing aggressively to both of them, and the dog intervened and got between the animal and the young child and the risk was extremely high.”
Thiessen said conservation officials will look into what happened and why the cougar came so close to people.
He said it’s uncommon — but not unheard of — for cougars to go after people.
“We have seen cougar attacks in the lower part of British Columbia,” he said. “It’s not something that’s common, but it is something that has occurred.”