A few days after surviving a cougar attack in a wooded area outside a Whitecourt Tim Hortons, Sasha the five-year-old husky is back lounging in her bed, not making a sound.
Back home in Red Deer, her owner, 31-year-old William Gibb, said he never had any time to consider the risks, when he pursued the big cat to rescue his dog on Boxing Day.
“I had a little voice in the back of my head going, ‘That’s a cougar, you’re going to get hurt but have at ‘er’,” Gibb said.
Gibb had stopped at the Tim Hortons and let his two dogs out for a bathroom break. It was soon after that the cougar attacked Sasha. Gibb punched the predator in the head.
The dog escaped with two large gashes on her chest, four puncture wounds in the neck and a few other cuts and scrapes. She needed 28 stitches.
Luckily for Gibb, not only is she going to be fine, the vet bills were lower than expected.
“Hilltop Veterinary Clinic was very generous and very kind with their billing,” he said.
Gibb’s story has garnered wide interest from the news media.
“As far as the media attention, it’s been a little surreal. It’s kind of silly. People are making a big deal out of something that I personally believe a lot of others would do,” Gibb said.
He references the viral video of a man punching a kangaroo that caught his dog in a headlock. In his view, it’s not uncommon that people would protect their pets.
“I believe there are a lot of us who would do the exact same thing for our pets, our families, our friends without any second thought to our safety,” Gibb said.
Gibb sports a few red marks on his hands and wrists from fighting off the cougar. Love taps, he calls them. In fact, Gibb said he was relieved it was he, his brother and another friend who encountered the animal and not a family with small children.
“At least we had the capability to deal with it better than most. I’m just happy nobody else was hurt through the process,” he said.
An outdoorsman, Gibb enjoys hiking, camping and gold panning. Despite the incident, Gibb hasn’t changed his view of wildlife, which he holds a reverence for. The opportunity to be close to nature is one of the great things about Canada, he said.
“I’ve always held the notion that they’re beautiful creatures, they deserve to be respected, they deserve to be left alone. It’s unfortunate one had to come that close and attack and be destroyed in the end,” he said.
Before, the closest he had ever been to a high-level predator was driving past a bear on the side of the road. Gibb raps his knuckles on the wooden coffee table in front of him. He hopes this is the closest he’ll ever get.
“Seeing them out in the wild, seeing them do their thing is just magnificent. I just hope we can find a way we can co-exist without worrying about our little critters getting eaten,” he said.