COVE, Ore. (AP) — The first camping trip of the season for a Cove couple turned into an encounter with a cougar that ended with dogs and people teaming up to send the big cat into retreat.
Wesley and Lisa Wynn of Cove arrived at the Moss Spring campgrounds this month and set up camp with their two quarterhorses and two dogs.
The couple and their animals were settling in for the night about 10 p.m. when Wesley decided they needed more firewood.
"We got up and called the dogs, who were in the back of the truck," Wesley told The Observer newspaper in LaGrande.
Corona, an 8-year-old black Labrador and border collie mix, and Gigi, a 5-year-old, long-haired, female German shepherd, leaped from the truck and raced into the dark.
Wesley had a small flashlight but left his loaded 12-gauge shotgun about 15 feet behind him.
The dogs began to growl and bark. Suddenly, the cougar jumped out from the shadows onto Corona, clamping its teeth around the dog's neck and shaking him.
Gigi, the German Shepherd, came to Corona's rescue and bit the cougar on its hind quarters.
"The animal let go of Corona and swung around for Gigi," said Wesley. "That's when I flashed my flashlight on it and saw it was a cougar."
The big cat's teeth were bared and its ears were pinned back as it swiped at the barking dogs. Wesley yelled to his wife, "It's a cat! Get the gun!"
Lisa, who was nursing a knee injury, limped to retrieve the weapon.
"About a hundred things were going through my mind," she said. "Am I going to get back in time to help Wes?"
Wesley said that he pointed his flashlight into the eyes of the cougar and temporarily blinded it.
One dog was on either side of the cat barking and growling, distracting the cat and protecting Wesley.
"As I waited for Lisa, I just couldn't believe this was happening," he said. "The cougar was about 10 to 15 feet away from me."
As soon as Wesley felt the weapon shoved into his hand, he gave Lisa the flashlight and the cougar seemed to sense the danger.
Wesley fired once and the cat bolted away. He fired once more into the general area.
Corona suffered puncture wounds to his neck and claw wounds to the body, but escaped serious injury.
"If Gigi hadn't bitten the cat like she did, Corona would have been hurt badly," said Wesley.
He was told by Leonard Erickson of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife it "was definitely an attack because the cougar had ample time and opportunity to get out of the area where we were camping, but it did not," Wesley said.
The Wynns said it deepened their appreciation for their dogs.
"They worked as a team and kept the cougar away from us," said Wesley. "They are hero dogs to me."
(Copyright 2009 The Associated Press)