Erin Wilson knows her dog, Eva, is a wonderful friend.
Wilson told The Sacramento Bee in a phone interview Tuesday that the 212-year-old Belgian Malinois was badly injured fighting with a mountain lion that had just attacked Wilson as the pair were out for an afternoon stroll along the Trinity River in far Northern California on Monday.
“I don’t think,” she said, “I will ever be able to live up to how amazing and loyal she is to me.”
Wilson, 24, is from Trinity County, which is about four hours northwest of Sacramento. After a stressful day, she and Eva hopped in her pickup and drove down to the Trinity River to relax and enjoy a peaceful afternoon alone.
When the mountain lion lunged for Wilson, Eva was only a few yards ahead, off-leash, and Wilson’s pickup was still visible along Highway 299.
Through her jacket, the cat’s claws scratched her shoulder. The cat was growling, ready to pounce on the 115-pound woman. She asked for help.
“I yelled ‘Eva!’ and she came running,” Wilson said. “And she hit that cat really hard.”
The cougar quickly outmatched the dog, who weighed around 55 pounds.
“They fought for a couple of seconds, and then I heard her start crying,” Wilson said. “That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”
Wilson claimed she began hitting the cougar with whatever she could find, including rocks, sticks, and her fists. She tried to choke the cat and gouge its eyes with her arms, but was scratched by the cat’s back paws as it tried to kick her off. Wilson described the scratches and bruises as “wounds” she received as a result of Eva.
But the cat wouldn’t let go, according to Wilson. She crushed back to her truck, grabbed a tire iron, and flagged down a passing motorist, Sharon Houston, who told The Bee Tuesday that she grabbed her own weapons — a four-foot length of PVC pipe and some pepper spray.
Wilson claimed that the pair ran down and began beating on the mountain lion, which had dragged the dog off the trail.
The cat eventually let go of the dog, and it ran away after Houston sprayed it with pepper spray, according to Houston.
Wilson said, “Eva ran back to the pickup.”
BELGIAN MALINOIS RECOVERS AT VET “At first I was like, ‘Wow, she’s OK,” Wilson said. “But when I looked at her closer, I realized she had a couple of puncture wounds on her face,” Wilson said. “And she just had a lot of blood coming out of her mouth.”
Wilson said she threw the dog in the truck and took it as fast as she could to an emergency vet clinic in Redding, the region’s largest city. Wilson claimed that during the frantic drive, the dog went into convulsions.
For the time being, veterinarians are working to ensure that there is no bleeding in her brain and that the pressure in her head is decreasing.
Wilson and her husband, Connor, paid a visit to the dog at the vet’s office on Tuesday. She expressed hope that Eva will fully recover. Meanwhile, she stated that she has plans for how to express sincere thanks to the dog.
“She really likes stuffed animals so we’re buying her a bunch of stuffies,” she said. “We’re going to get her a nice steak dinner. She’s going to get all sorts of treats for a while.”
Wilson set up a GoFundMe account on Tuesday to help pay for Eva’s vet bills. She wrote in the post that she realizes how lucky she is to have such a good girl.
“My dog is my hero,” Wilson wrote. “And I owe her my life.”