Saturday, May 1, 2010



A cougar attacked a B.C. family's golden retriever Saturday night, January 2, 2010, after the dog stepped in between the cougar and an 11-year-old boy. Police, who later shot the cougar dead, credited the 18-month-old dog — Angel — for saving the boy's life. A man who was once reluctant to adopt a dog now has a very different attitude about the Golden Retriever. "My son was saved by Angel,'' Jay Forman told the Globe and Mail.

Austin Forman was hauling firewood in his backyard on the weekend – one of the 11-year-old's weekly chores – when his golden retriever, Angel, began acting strange.
He said that before the attack, he’d noticed the rambunctious one-year-old retriever was behaving oddly. The dog stuck a little too close to him as he pushed the wheelbarrow through the snow, and then lay down in front of the woodshed door, as if to block it as he loaded up. Usually Angel would be tearing around the yard, playing, only coming if she was called.
“Angel is a year-and-a-half old, she's like a teenager that has been drinking Starbucks coffee for a week straight, nothing slows her down and she only listens to you about half the time,” said Austin's father Jay. As Austin emptied the first load from wheelbarrow in the house, he told his mom he thought Angel was finally learning to behave. The attack happened as he stopped for a second to rest as he wheeled the second load across the yard.
As Austin paused with his wheelbarrow full of wood, he heard the sound of something crunching across the snow. The boy spotted what he first thought was a strange dog emerge from the shadows. He turned and saw a dark shadow just an arm’s length from him. Then it charged. Angel jumped, leaping at the cougar.
"I was really scared. At first, I didn't know it was a cougar. I thought it was another dog," Austin told CTV News on Sunday. "As soon as it went underneath the light, I saw that it was a cougar. I knew at that moment, I had to go inside."
Angel, who had been at Austin's side, engaged the cougar, which was slightly larger than Angel. Austin, meanwhile, ran into the house and screamed, "A cougar is eating Angel!" his mother, Sherri Forman, recalled in a phone interview with  

Forman said she had to get Austin to repeat himself a few times because he was so shaken. Forman said she looked out the window. She couldn't see anything but could hear Angel whimpering. "To feel so helpless, I knew I couldn't do anything," she said. She called her father-in-law, who told her to call 9-1-1.
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. Const. Gravelle thought, "I know that family," jumped in his car and "flew right over," he said Sunday.
He was on the scene within a minute and stepped into the backyard and saw that the cougar, a young, skinny female, had dragged Angel under the porch.
“I could see the cougar was chewing on the dog's jugular, I took a shot at the cougar's hind end,” he said. “They were all tangled up together and I don't want to hit the dog,” The policeman fired his weapon, hitting the animal twice in the rear, but it wouldn't let go. It took two more rounds at almost point blank range to kill it.
Even after it was killed, the cougar's jaws were clenched on Angel's face, Forman said. “We brought it out on the snow, the dog was laying there lifeless,” he said. “I thought she was dead,” said Austin. He didn’t want to go outside. “When we got the cougar off of her, she was barely breathing,” said Jay. “Suddenly, she took a big deep breath.”
Angel began to drag herself through the snow, rubbing her face in it, trying to clear the blood away. Slowly she raised herself up. “All of a sudden its lungs filled with air and it stood up, like a person shaking off a long sleep,” said Gravelle. “It was unreal.”
“She’s up,” cried Jay. Austin and the rest of the family came out and down the back stairs. Angel, her eyes covered in blood, her fur matted and torn, went from person to person, sniffing them until she got to Austin. “She stopped at my son,” said Jay. “Once she had smelled him and made sure the cougar didn’t get him, she went back and flopped down.”
Austin threw his arms around Angel. “I thanked her and petted her and gave her a hug. After I found out that she was alive, I was very joyful,” said Austin.
Austin said it was the first time he'd ever seen a cougar in the yard. "I was shocked and scared at the same time. I wasn't expecting a cougar at all to be in our yard," he said. "I feel very, very lucky. If it wasn't for my dog, I don't think I would be here. She was my best friend, but now she's more than a best friend — she's like my guardian now."
Mr. Forman, who was initially reluctant to adopt the formerly apartment-bound dog last year, now can't say enough about the pooch. “My son was saved by Angel.” As the youngest of five siblings, Austin has been closer to the dog than any other member of the family. “They kind of bonded because they are both hyper,” his dad explained.
His son is shaken but unhurt, and Angel is expected to recover. “She is doing pretty good, she has a bunch of puncture wounds in the head, the neck and the thigh. But there's nothing missing. It's pretty amazing.”
Angel will be taken to Chilliwack veterinary hospital today (Monday) for a checkup, but other than some puncture wounds and tears, it looks like she’ll be all right.
As for Austin, he won't be allowed to dawdle over his chores any more, his father said. “I think the firewood is going to have to be done in the daylight, now that we know there are strange things lurking in the dark.”
Last week, when Angel was frolicking in the snow, family members called her a "snow angel," Forman said. "Now, she's our guardian angel."


Eight days after his dog, Angel, saved his life, 11-year-old Austin Forman was missing her terribly. The golden retriever was at the vet, recuperating from wounds incurred when she leapt between Austin and a wild cougar in their backyard in rural Boston Bar, British Columbia. But he wasn't allowed to visit the family pet because, says his mom, Sherri, "she's so excitable" that she might have jumped up and reinjured herself. Adds Austin: "We call her the kangaroo."

When Angel came home January 9th, she made good on her nickname and — despite bruises, stitches, staples and over two dozen puncture wounds from the attack — happily leaped up to greet the boy whose life she nearly gave up her own to protect. Says Sherri, 39, who has raised five children in this remote community: "She has a spirit unlike any animal I have seen."

It was an emotional moment after a week of tributes that included worldwide headlines and an upcoming award ceremony from the tiny town's police force.

"She's pretty much the bravest dog I've ever seen," says Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable Chad Gravelle, who arrived on the scene minutes after 18-month-old Angel put herself in the path of the cougar as it charged at Austin.

The sixth grader, who had been loading firewood into a wheelbarrow, sprinted into his house while his mother phoned 911. Then the family watched helplessly as the big cat mauled their pet.

Gravelle shot the cougar, then pried Angel's seemingly lifeless head from its jaws. No one expected the heroic dog to live, but "the next thing we knew, she sucked this big breath of air in and started coughing out blood," recalls Sherri.

The Formans took her to a veterinarian, where she was treated for extensive — but not life-threatening — injuries. “She was in for about an hour in surgery: extensive injuries to her head. Her skull was fractured, and they had to piece it together along with numerous other wounds.” 


Now neighbors are stopping by with bones, homemade dog treats and get-well notes. "My grandpa just finished building her a doghouse with an insulated floor," says Austin. "She's going to be spoiled rotten from now on."

WATCH: Hero dog Angel who saved B.C. boy from cougar is treated by Vet for bite wounds:


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