I learned on Saturday that I married a liar. Dave and I went for a hike at a nature preserve near our house, and he told me that the trail was about 3 miles long. Now, I know that 3 miles may not seem like much to some of you (like my cousin Miss Triathlon), but I am a wuss, and an out-of-shape wuss at that. So three miles in hilly, rough terrain with my bad knee (and dodging enormous piles o’ poop the whole time, because apparently this is also a trail where a lot of people go horseback riding) seemed like a lot. But it’s been a while since I’ve worked out, so I knew that I needed it, and it seemed do-able. I found out over halfway through it that Dave was full of crap, and the trail was actually FIVE miles long. I don’t know that I’ve ever hiked 5 miles in my life. I wasn’t prepared for that kind of distance, I didn’t even bring a bottle of water with me. And lord, the pain I was in afterward. I couldn’t walk up and down the stairs of our house without making little whiny “ow” noises. I’m proud of myself now for having survived, but I doubt I’ll be doing that again anytime soon.
In “this is another reason why I don’t like living in the boonies” news, our local weekly newspaper had a cover story this week about the fact that there have been several cougar sightings in our area recently. Holy sh*t. One anecdote:
On September 17, also near Duvall, a woman reported she was out working in her flowerbeds hwen six deer came into the yard. A cougar ran right past her chasing them.
The article has a reference to a website that tells you what to do in case you encounter a cougar. Do you know what to do if you see a cougar? Me neither. But I do now. Here’s a partial list of action items, complete with my commentary in italics:
* Stop, stand tall and don’t run. Pick up small children immediately. Running and rapid movements may trigger an attack. Remember, a cougar’s instinct is to chase. [Ok, this makes sense, I’m with them so far.]
* Face the cougar, talk to it firmly and slowly back away. Always leave the animal an escape route. [You want me to talk to it? Really? And forget the cougar’s escape route, what about mine?]
* Try to appear larger than the cougar by getting above it. (e.g., stepping up onto a stump). If wearing a jacket, hold it open to further increase your size. [Right. Talk to it and hold my jacket open so I look thoroughly insane, and scare the cougar off that way. Makes sense.]
* Do not take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. [Um, duh??]
* If the animal does not flee and shows signs of aggression (crouches with ears back, teeth bared, hissing, tail twitching, and hind feet pumping in preparation to jump), be more assertive. [Sure thing, right after I poop my pants.] Shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger. [This reminds me of a rottweiler that almost attacked me when I was in high school. I did, in fact, jump toward it screaming, and the dog stopped dead in his tracks and stared at me like I was crazy. So I guess that would work.]
So, this one little article sent me into a tailspin of worry, where I started imagining worst-case scenarios of what I would do if I found a cougar in our yard. I mean, I freaked out last night because I found a raccoon in our kitchen. (Apparently he likes cat food.) But a cougar? I have no idea how to deal with that. And then I start to think that maybe we need to have a gun for these wild kingdom-esque situations. The thing is, I am about as anti-gun a person as you’ll ever meet. I have never touched a gun in my life. In seventh grade, they made all of us take a “hunter’s education” class, because that’s what happens when you grow up in a red state, and part of the class involved going to a shooting range and learning how to fire a gun. I got my mom to write me a note to excuse me from the class because it was against my beliefs. That’s how anti-gun I was when I was 12 years old, so imagine what I’m like now. Yeah. But seriously, if it comes down to a cougar versus my cats, or God forbid, a cougar versus our as-yet-unconceived child? I’d totally be willing to use a gun, in a heartbeat. So now I have to make a decision about that. And the worry spiral continues. Fun! You know, I really like this house and all, but sometimes I miss apartment/city life. Oy.
The writers of the couger website neglected to suggest using a laser pointer to create an amusing distraction for the cat. It works for my cats. But if you try it, you also need to make encouraging comments, like: “Ohhhh, quick kitty! Get the dot! Get the dot!” And you need to say these things in an annoying baby/kitty-talk voice. It would probably work.
"Walk on the Wild Side" was not recorded by the Velvet Underground. It first showed up in 1972 on Lou Reed's "Transformer" album. That was a few years after the demise of the "VU"
I've always been a big fan of Lou and his music. 🙂
Um, Russell? Let's just file that under close enough. Thanks.
No need to compromise your principles and get a gun, because the likelihood that you’d have it 1)with you, 2)loaded, and 3) accessible at the right moment are slim-to-none. Besides, I doubt ANY cougar would stick around if you busted out the family-gathering voice. No one, even a scary predator cat, could confuse any of the ladies in our group as prey.
Russell, thank you for pointing out our ignorance it’s always nice when a complete stranger drops by to offer constructive criticism on the site.