Adventures in Guarddogging
September 3, 2013 2:25 AM   Subscribe

 
As the owner of a husky-shepherd mix, I found this very interesting. She's a city dog--no cougars for hundreds of miles here--but I've seen glimpses of the guard/enforcer behavior from time to time, and it's powerful.
posted by Rykey at 3:09 AM on September 3, 2013


SPOILERS for the wary: There's a scary moment at the very end but it seems that everybody's okay and there's no chomping.
posted by Mizu at 3:09 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dogs are great and fearless friends and maybe this is the T. gondii talking but I want to give that cat something to eat.
posted by vapidave at 3:16 AM on September 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


The human should have put down the cell phone and gone outside and yelled at the cat.
posted by ryanrs at 3:17 AM on September 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Rykey - yeah, I'm probably reading a bit too much into it, but what I found interesting was the role each seemed to play. The husky was doing a frantic, aggressive distraction thing while the shepherd moved steadily outwards from the house driving the cougar away.
posted by mannequito at 3:18 AM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I couldn't film that. Sit inside the house and watch.
I don't know exactly what I would do, but I think it would involve loud noises and things thrown at the cougar.
Frankly, damn-near-apex predator vs. me, I want pointy, if not shooty things between us. I would think the cougar would have the upper hand seven ways to sunday, even against two dogs. At least, I wouldn't put the dogs to the test. I like dogs. I respect the cougar.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:28 AM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


And the cat was like, guys? what's your problem? I'm just trying to survive here and you're making needles out of haystacks or something, can't think straight because of your RACKET and I'll move slowly so calm down, but if I wanted I could move LIKE THAT!
(on preview: yeah, it was a really peaceful cougar)
posted by hat_eater at 3:30 AM on September 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


That's a big cat and it seems to me that if that wild predator was hungry enough, a couple of domesticated dogs would have made a quick and easy meal.
posted by three blind mice at 3:31 AM on September 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's stupid and irresponsible putting / leaving your pups out with a cat as big or bigger than either of them. You should be more concerned with getting them inside than filming what could have gone much worse for all 3 of the creatures. One good swat and either of those dogs could have been maimed.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:31 AM on September 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


On the other hand, we don't know anything about this person, his/her situation and factors that went into his/her risks assessment. There might have been something that made leaving the dogs to handle the situation preferable to opening the doors, for example.
posted by hat_eater at 3:36 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


You should be more concerned with getting them inside than filming what could have gone much worse for all 3 of the creatures.

I thought the same thing, but you hear him call the dogs to try and get them inside and he's pretty much ignored. I think getting them inside while a big predator is on their territory would involve at least having to bodily drag them away, which would put everyone in danger. At least if the dogs are free and running they have the ability to get away if they need to.
posted by fight or flight at 3:39 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It looks like a juvenile cougar to me. Which is a good thing for the husky, which appeared to be doing all the running. The alsatian is more sauntering along at back going 'yeah, you should get going, bro. Huskydog doesn't like anyone on his porch.'
posted by MuffinMan at 3:41 AM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was unbearaby stressful to watch. No, that cougar was not all peaced out. However, my understanding is that cougars -- although the very best killing machines native to North America - prefer prey that doesn't stand its ground or fight back.

The husky's strategy of always getting behind the cougar was an interesting one. The Alsatian, I dunno, wouldn't give it any odds at all.

And the owner? Owner was a total dick. I don't have a gun or anything that would decisively turn the tables on this interaction, but, man, I'd do anything but let my dogs take that kind of risk while filming it and -- around the 3/4 mark -- half-heartedly trying to call them back.
posted by bumpkin at 3:48 AM on September 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Any dog-language experts know why the dogs' tails would be wagging? Seemed to me that some of that Husky's bouncing looked playful, rather than defensive?
posted by fancyoats at 4:07 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder if the guy filmed it because this type of scenario had occurred before and he knew what to expect. But yeah, I'd be out there with my dogs scaring that cat the hell away, not recording it to put on youtube.
posted by orme at 4:14 AM on September 3, 2013


Dunno about the human sitting back and observing.
However, the double team that the dogs were doing is very effective. Annoy the enemy on one end and threaten on the other until the whole enterprise just seems like a big clusterfuck. Kitties got no patience for that shit. Dogs are um, "dogged" and if in partnership, love this shit. Hence the tail wagging. Good times.
I did get worried when big kitty chased the husky off-screen. One on one, the best outcome is a huge vet bill.
posted by qinn at 4:18 AM on September 3, 2013


the husky was getting behind the cougar so that it could flip the cougar on its back and give it belly rubs
posted by angrycat at 4:33 AM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


That looks like a juvenile cougar to me as well. And I give it not much time to live, if it is that habituated to humans and their animals. Cougars and people don't mix well, which isn't the cougar's fault.

Adult cougars would be considerably larger than the Alsatian, both in weight (that dog looks like a 80-or-so-pound dog to me, and a male cougar could be half again as heavy, and much larger in height and length; a female would still be physically larger than the dog but only a little heavier, maybe.

Kinda depressing video, all the way around. Dog owner not smart, cougar essentially signing its death warrant...sigh.
posted by maxwelton at 4:37 AM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is sad. No question the dogs are very brave, but I'm not sure why the owner is just standing back and not even trying to do a thing when his dogs are in a clearly potentially dangerous situation. I'm not saying he should put himself in danger, but really? Standing back and filming silently?

Also, that cougar just looks like it's used to people/human properties and wandered in. Not its fault. I hope it turns out ok.
posted by Lazer at 4:41 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it completely bizarre that people are mad that the owner didn't do anything to help drive the cougar away.

There is no way I would have gone outside or put myself in any position where a cougar could potentially harm me. Or honestly, done anything that would attract its attention, as I wouldn't trust my ability to predict how high it could jump and climb. Unless this person owned a gun and felt confident in using it accurately and effectively, I would never expect them to do otherwise.

Like, I love my pets. I adore them!

I'm not going to die for them.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:44 AM on September 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


My dog would die for me; I would die for him. 100%
posted by Bango Skank at 5:10 AM on September 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Huskie appears to be doing play bows with the cougar.

German Shepard is definitely not guard dogging.

Human should have gotten a steel rake, and shooed away hungry kitty. I don't think the dogs knew what this game was.
posted by dglynn at 5:11 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like everyone else in this thread I would have dashed out at once, stark naked (for effect), and torn out the cougar's throat with my teeth after which I would feast on its gently twitching heart.
posted by atrazine at 5:13 AM on September 3, 2013 [33 favorites]


This video freaked my dog out.

I just finally got him calmed down that there weren't any potential friends in need of his help. Then a chipmunk ran across the back porch, and we are back to normal.

In short, dogs are dumb.
posted by DigDoug at 5:23 AM on September 3, 2013


Any dog-language experts know why the dogs' tails would be wagging? Seemed to me that some of that Husky's bouncing looked playful, rather than defensive?

Yeah, the husky appears to be "bowing" quite a bit, particularly from about 1:20 to 1:30. I'm not an expert in dog behaviour, but it looks to me like its thought process was something like, "You're a strange-looking dog! Want to play?"
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:28 AM on September 3, 2013


Like, I love my pets. I adore them!

I'm not going to die for them.


It's too bad there's no responsible middle-ground between throwing your life away in a mano-a-mano fight with a cougar and detachedly standing by taking a cell-phone video of your dogs risking their lives defending you. Otherwise this person might be open to some sort of criticism.
posted by crayz at 5:59 AM on September 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess I'm not sure what else you'd have had this person do? We have no reason to think they hadn't already done everything they could think off -- called animal control, for instance, or made some effort to call the dogs back inside. Past a certain point, it was probably out of their hands.

At worst, something terrible happens, and this person has documentation that might be useful to them in some way.

At best, nothing terrible happens, and this person has documentation that might be useful to them in some way.

I don't understand the idea of standing there watching in stoic silence. Like, it might sound better as a narrative but it doesn't actually accomplish anything.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:05 AM on September 3, 2013


Any dog-language experts know why the dogs' tails would be wagging? Seemed to me that some of that Husky's bouncing looked playful, rather than defensive?

Wagging doesn't necessarily mean "I'm nice" or "Let's be friends." They can also mean "I'm kind of concerned about Dudeskull" or just "YAAARRRRRGH I'M ENERGIZED FOR SOME OR NO REASON"

Another thing to note: unless there's some more information, there's no reason to think it was a hungry cougar. Could just as easily have been a perfectly satiated cougar that was just passing through.

The movie is a good example of why you shouldn't have outside dogs in areas where there cougars. Or coyotes. Or, for puppies, hawks or owls.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:09 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've seen this behavior before. We don't have many cougars here but we've got lots of black bears and dogs do exactly the same thing when a bear is on their turf. Dogs harry and harass bears every day, even little dogs. Feists are notorious for it but just about any dog will get in the game given the opportunity; last winter I watched a neighbor's lemon beagle run off a bear.

I'm sure it's happened but I've never heard of a dog getting beat up or eaten by a bear.
posted by workerant at 6:16 AM on September 3, 2013


I guess I'm not sure what else you'd have had this person do?

Go outside the house but stay near the house. Don't chase the cat or block its escape. Wave your arms over your head, yell at the cat, and throw stuff at it.
posted by ryanrs at 6:25 AM on September 3, 2013


Yeah. That is a _problem cougar_. Typically, they don't like to be seen, period. I've seen exactly one in the wild, in Conifer, CO, and then only the tail end of it as it was taking off through the yard when I walked unaware outside the house. They, wisely, don't like people. Even a habituated one like this would probably have taken off at the prospect of two dogs *and* a human.

That said, someone's gonna have to shoot that poor cougar. If it's a really lucky cougar, it'll be tranq'ed by DNR and stuck in a zoo. [Precedent: "Omaha", the cougar in the Omaha Zoo; picked up in 2003.]
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:26 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm not sure what else you'd have had this person do?

Set off the car alarms with the key remotes? Throw stuff at it from an open window? Panic and cry?
posted by elizardbits at 6:51 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


A good Braveheart battle cry never hurt nothing
posted by angrycat at 6:52 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean if wildcats are even slightly like domestic cats, all you have to do to strike raw monstrous terror into their hearts is briskly snap open a new bin liner on trash day. See also: turning on the vacuum.
posted by elizardbits at 6:57 AM on September 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah, the husky appears to be "bowing" quite a bit, particularly from about 1:20 to 1:30. I'm not an expert in dog behaviour, but it looks to me like its thought process was something like, "You're a strange-looking dog! Want to play?"

For context: huskies bark quite/relatively rarely. My husky is sort of at one extreme in that she will only bark if something needs to happen NOW, and one weird case where something happened in our well-fenced yard late at night (she's an indoor dog who likes to lounge in the outdoors) and she rushed back in, super freaked out but completely unhurt. She is otherwise silent most of the time, only howling if she wants something to happen (and was tired of silently waiting for it to happen and hoping we'd all turn our heads and notice her waiting) but whatever it is was not urgent enough to require a bark. Even more talkative huskies will make Chewbacca-sounding howls more often than they bark. For an average husky to be barking that much, it's gotta be pretty freaked.

The bowing also isn't what I associate with playful bowing--it's generally a transitional posture here, a way to prepare to move if necessary, as opposed to a stance that is begging for attention and is therefore held for a count or two (example here, which is of a playful husky barking, but not as barking as often as in the video, nor in the same 'inflection').

As for the owner's actions: damned if you do, damned if you don't. I ain't judging.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:19 AM on September 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Actually, grab a trash bag, give it a snap to fill it with air, grab the end to seal the air in it, and then do another just like that. One inflated bag in each hand, wave them over your head, and advance making loud noises. That is exactly the kind of thing a cougar brain would process as "WTF? I have no idea what that is coming towards me, time to flee...."

Probably disorient the dogs as well. Probably would even scare your neighbors if you did that to them.

But, a steel rake is usually handy, will make you appear larger, and after all, is a steel rake.

And Harrierstick is right, that cougar is definitely going to end up shot or darted and moved if it continues to appear to be habituated to human contact(dogs being human proxy, in this case).
posted by dglynn at 7:26 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I live about 20 minutes down the highway from where this was shot.

Highlands is a large rural/forested municipality that acts as sort of the northernmost edge of the small region of 350,000 people here. Beyond that there is mountains and forest/logged out areas. I've created a map.

It's not unusual to get cougars in the city - right downtown in the city. When I was a kid growing up in a new suburb, a cougar was treed a couple of blocks from my home.

Basically, Highlands is a transport hub for these creatures. They come from the north and the west, and use the Highlands as a junction to travel down into the city, or across and up the Saanich Peninsula.

We have a lot of greenways and regional trails, so the cougars can follow those trails.

The cougars are typically following the very large population of deer that live everywhere in Victoria (our nickname is the "City of Gardens", so there many places for deer to hide).

These are young cougars who have been pushed out of their range to the north and west, and cannot resist the temptation of all these damn deer.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I should say that these animals are nothing to sneeze at, and the guy did the right thing by staying indoors and letting the dogs do the work nature intended them to do.

Every couple of years a cougar, typically a juvenile, will kill a kid here on the Island. They are dangerous animals, and when we spend the day on the west coast out at Port Renfrew or Botanical Beach, I'm always a little wary about letting my sons travel around the trail, out of sight.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:41 AM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have been around huskies before but I have never heard anything like that volume and frequency of barking. That dog's heart must have been about ready to break out of its chest.
posted by bukvich at 7:41 AM on September 3, 2013


To add to what KokuRyu has said, the thing about cougars is that they will stalk humans as prey. Bears are dangerous when surprised, but brown and black bears don't hunt humans - they just react defensively when someone stumbles onto them on a trail. With a cougar, you can be out for a walk and not know that a cougar's been ten feet behind you off the trail for the last hour, waiting for the right moment to pounce. It's very rare, but it happens.
posted by Dasein at 7:47 AM on September 3, 2013


SPOILERS for the wary: There's a scary moment at the very end but it seems that everybody's okay and there's no chomping.

THANK YOU
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:50 AM on September 3, 2013


Lots of armchair experts in this thread, as usual.

All this vid did for me was clearly illustrate that dogs > cats, every single time.
posted by brand-gnu at 8:01 AM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Basically, Highlands is a transport hub for these creatures.

I'm picturing a bunch of tired, impatient wildcats with coffee breath, wearing rumpled business suits.
posted by elizardbits at 8:06 AM on September 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


If they are really "guard dogs" they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. I don't think the human going outside would've done any good unless he had a gun (and if it's even legal in that area to shoot nuisance species, probably not.) To those saying "they should've tried to get their dogs back inside." That's not going to happen, once dogs get to a certain excitement level they kind of ignore everything except what they're trying to do.
posted by thylacine at 8:16 AM on September 3, 2013


To me it looks like the dogs are saying: "YOU LOOK DANGEROUS AND I'M SCARED FOR MY PACK. PLEASE GO AWAY!"

They're scared and just trying to look threatening in order to get BIG SCARY THING to go away. It looks kind of like playing because it's likely that dogs play to practice for situations like this.

Meanwhile, the cat is saying (with it's lowered tail and ears down and forward a bit): "I'M IN WAY OVER MY HEAD. YOU ARE LOUD AND SCARY. I AM SCARED PLEASE LET ME LEAVE!"

The Husky is trying to get behind the cat or get under it to make it look like it's trying to get an angle to go for the cat's throat. It won't actually do so unless the cat attacks.

The cat is afraid that it will get pounced on by the dogs if it just turns around and runs away so it tries to back away while looking threatening to keep the dogs from attacking.

Basically, both the dogs and the cougar are scared but they both think the other party is vicious and about to kill them.

It would be like if you were looking for something to eat and walked into a house where something smelled good. It would be awkward but you'd just say, "Sorry, took a wrong turn, bye."

But if had a gun drawn for some other reason and walked into a house with some other people had their guns drawn, the whole thing would get very intense really fast and you'd end up backing out of the house and not lowering your weapon until you were well away for there.

This is what human interactions would look like if everyone was armed at all times and everyone knew it, it what I'm saying.
posted by VTX at 9:35 AM on September 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised that no one has commented on the white pussy cat sitting on the stone wall, first visible at 1:04. Seems to be calmly enjoying the show. Probably trying to decide which side to root for.
posted by charlesminus at 10:22 AM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


That is exactly the kind of thing a cougar brain would process as "WTF? I have no idea what that is coming towards me, time to flee...."

Perfect time for the Velociraptor costume.
posted by smidgen at 10:22 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


atrazine: Like everyone else in this thread I would have dashed out at once, stark naked (for effect), and torn out the cougar's throat with my teeth after which I would feast on its gently twitching heart.

Ewww!! You're a human being, for Pete's sake. The least you can do is sauté it with onions and garlic and serve it over rice!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:24 AM on September 3, 2013


I live near the Lincoln Park Zoo and go there all the time. Lions and Tigers are in open moated compounds. The cougar? Enclosed compound. Because they can leap up to forty feet.

That particular cougar looks young to me.
posted by srboisvert at 10:28 AM on September 3, 2013


ehhhhverybody's an expert...
posted by judson at 10:56 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like everyone else in this thread I would have dashed out at once, stark naked (for effect), and torn out the cougar's throat with my teeth after which I would feast on its gently twitching heart.

Speak for yourself. I'd have walked out -- naked, sure, why not -- to win its trust with my gentle demeanor and skills at mime until I could mind-meld with it and explain that it should go elsewhere. Namaste, furry brother. Namasfuckingte.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:38 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a husky and this is natural behavior to northern spitz type breeds. One of their jobs is to run bears and other big scary things off in this manner (interestingly they do not fuck with wolves, no way, no sir). But two bear dogs can easily run off mature brown bear or a polar bear even so a cougar ain't no thing. My dog has run off several black bears on her own and she's far from a badass. The trick is not to catch them! Just annoy, harass and annoy some more.

Google "karelian bear dog" to see some bear harassing in actio .
posted by fshgrl at 12:47 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


angrycat: "the husky was getting behind the cougar so that it could flip the cougar on its back and give it belly rubs"

With all due respect, I believe this may be projection on your part.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:48 PM on September 3, 2013


The thing the husky is doing leading the cougar away from the house is typical too. My friends dog does that with moose often.

The Shepard isn't really on board tho. Two huskies would have alternated darting at the cat.
posted by fshgrl at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Basically, both the dogs and the cougar are scared but they both think the other party is vicious and about to kill them.

You know, I can't help thinking that if they were humans, there would have been blood.
(because as tool users we made ourselves vastly more dangerous and we had no time to evolve suitable behaviours yet
posted by hat_eater at 1:37 PM on September 3, 2013


If they were humans, they'd be scared of what would happen if or when the intruder comes back. So there'd be a whole other level of fear, and more chance of violence. The dogs are only thinking about right now.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:57 PM on September 3, 2013


three blind mice: "That's a big cat and it seems to me that if that wild predator was hungry enough, a couple of domesticated dogs would have made a quick and easy meal."

You greatly underestimate the lethality of two wolves (subspecies domesticus) acting in tandem against a threat.

The cougar, who must live and die by its bets, did not.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:25 PM on September 3, 2013


I vote for letting the dogs do their thing, even if they get killed. I mean, we didn't mutually evolve for cuddles.

There's a thing about working breeds -- they love to work. It's what they were born for. And I don't see any way that the human getting into the mix helps. You can't shoot, you might hit the dogs. You can't make distracting noises, you might distract the dogs. They weren't using the same styles (a breed thing as much as an age thing, I think), but the dogs were clearly working together and succeeding.

I'm surprised that no one has commented on the white pussy cat sitting on the stone wall

Hey, anybody else see the gorilla walk through?

Anyway, speaking of animals cooperating, I have a recent story. We had a bat in the house, which first showed up in the living room where my mom sleeps with our sweetheart of a dog, Jujubean. Well, as soon as she sees the bat, the dog is alerted, but she doesn't go crazy -- she gets up, pads into the other room, and gets the cat. My cat, Fry, who once caught a bat in his mouth as quite possibly his first prey (I will always regret I had no way to get a photo of him with the wings wrapped around his jaw -- he looked like Heath Ledger's Joker). Between the two of them they got the bat cornered over by the fireplace. Unfortunately it took a couple more days to coax the thing out of the house (lights, open door, etc.) but I will always wonder what communication they used.
posted by dhartung at 3:41 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is why you have at least two dogs in big-animal country. You'll notice that the cat won't go after the harassing dog out of concern about what the other one might be doing.

As for the human intervening? I don't know; you may only distract the dogs, and they really, really need to focus on what they are doing. They are tons better at it than we are. You worried about the dogs? If that cat gets one dog down, the other one won't last much longer - and if human is out there, human has unacceptably high chance of not surviving the encounter.

That being said, that was one pretty damn stressful thing to watch. It does go against the grain to have to watch passively. Another thing to have handy in big-animal country is a good rifle, or a .357 magnum. I'd really hate to shoot a cat like that, though.

Honestly, despite my own advice above, I'd probably run outside clanging a pot and pan together. I have in the past exposed myself to high risk in adverse situations in order to bring them to a quicker resolution. I hope to live to a ripe old age, but I may not.
posted by Xoebe at 6:01 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"interestingly they do not fuck with wolves, no way, no sir"

I don't think any member of the Canines fuck with wolves. I've seen coyotes make the mistake and where you'd think running them off would be a lesson, they just out and out kill all they can catch. And catch them they do.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:03 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mountain lions are beautiful creatures
posted by cman at 10:24 PM on September 3, 2013


WOOF! WOOF WOOF WOOF! WOOF!
HISSSSSS!
posted by GoingToShopping at 10:48 PM on September 3, 2013


For the hell of it, I downloaded the video and then used Premiere's warp stabilization on it. It makes the parts through the screen less watchable, but when he switches to the window or whatever, the stabilization helps a lot. I don't know why the person didn't use YouTube's stabilization feature when they uploaded it.

I'd make it available, but it's of course not my video. It doesn't make it that much easier to see the action, really.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:57 AM on September 4, 2013


Yeah, YouTube should really offer the ability to watch anyone's video with stabilization--nobody thinks to turn it on.
posted by jjwiseman at 3:25 PM on September 4, 2013




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