This first experience was not mine, but since Kodi-the-big-black-dog was one of the main players, I feel justified in sharing it on my Trekking Tales. Long-time readers might even remember that he “wrote” two of them describing Summer Solstice outings that John and I enjoyed with him and his folks.
Kodi and his “dad” (Doug) were walking in their wild, extensive “back 40” (Crown land) when Kodi left the trail, as he often did. He barked soon after, which had Doug telling him to quit bugging the squirrels. After Kodi barked a second time, Kodi’s human informed him that he was not going to hang around. Soon after Doug started walking away, he heard a howl from Kodi such as he had never heard before. Needless to say, he turned back immediately to locate his well-loved dog.
Kodi was not alone. Crouched and facing him, their noses less than two metres apart, was a full-grown cougar. Rather than risk attack by turning his back on this large, aggressive cat, Kodi had yelped for help. Perhaps the fawn-coloured feline felt fear from this big black dog too. Into this standoff walked Doug. The cougar cleverly decide that three was a crowd. It turned and slinked away.
“He disappeared into the bush like a snake slithering off,” was how Doug described the cougar’s exit. “Within seconds, it was out of sight leaving no sign that it had ever been there.” He then added, “How often do we walk past them when we are out on the trails, without even knowing they are around?”
Kodi, rescued and safe, eventually calmed down. “Do dogs have adrenalin?” Doug wonders. “At least half an hour elapsed before he was breathing normally.”
Being of a scientific and enquiring mind, Doug revisited the scene on a different day. Very close to where the encounter had occurred lay the remains of a deer – and much cougar scat. Kodi had chanced upon the cougar’s dining room table.
The characters and setting for the next “chapter” were tall-black-poodle-Jake and I, walking the lanes near our home. Whether I’m on foot or on a bicycle, Jake loves to hang back and let me get a good lead (as long as I’m still visible). He’ll then suddenly sprint, skimming past me on long, thin legs, eventually stopping well up ahead, but where he can see me coming. He then grins back over his shoulder, and does a little exploring until it’s time to play his game over again.
On part of this particular lane loop, he was behind me and (uncharacteristically) out of sight when I heard him bark: once – “Teasing the squirrels, Jake?” twice – “Come on, Jake. Leave them in peace.”
However, having heard Doug and Kodi’s story just the day before, I was already turning back somewhat anxiously when he barked a third time. Coming within sight of him, I could only laugh. Lying in the middle of the trail was a small, irregularly shaped, mossy-brown, gnarled stump. Looking relieved at being “rescued”, Jake gave a grrr-oof that was a cross between “I win” and embarrassment, as he carefully skirted past this scary lump of wood.
Perhaps adrenaline was charging through him too, but he recuperated quickly. I cannot help wondering: “What would he have done if he’d been in Kodi’s place?” Best friends as these two sizeable black dogs are, courage might not have been endowed upon them in equal measures.