Lodi News-Sentinel

Eva the dog ready to return home after saving California woman from mountain lion

- Ryan Sabalow and Xavier Mascareñas

Eva didn’t look too bad, considerin­g three days earlier she nearly died in the jaws of a mountain lion.

The 2 1/2-year-old Belgian Malinois on Thursday night walked out of the VCA Asher Animal Hospital in Redding with her owner, Erin Wilson, at her side.

Eva was a little groggy from the pain meds, a few patches of her fur were shaved for stitches, and she had pink surgical tape wrapped above each of her front paws.

But Eva was wagging her tail as Wilson sat down on some grass outside the clinic and wrapped her arms around the dog that she credits for saving her life.

“I would do anything for her,” she said. “And I know now she would pretty much do anything for me. So it’s a good relationsh­ip to have. I know I can trust her.”

Wilson said Eva came to her rescue while the two were on a hike along the remote Trinity River in northweste­rn California on Monday afternoon. Trinity

County is about a four-hour drive northwest of Sacramento.

Wilson had just pulled her pickup off Highway 299 west of the town of Weavervill­e and headed down the trail to the river.

Eva was a few feet ahead of her and off a leash, when a mountain lion that had been hiding in some bushes along the trail jumped up and clawed her shoulder through her jacket, Wilson said.

The cougar growled and reared back as if it was going to attack Wilson, who’s 24 and a petite 115-pounds. Wilson screamed “Eva!” and the dog turned around and tackled the cat.

Wilson said Thursday she has no doubt Eva saved her life.

“If (Eva) had waited another second or two more,” Wilson told The Bee on Thursday, “it probably would have either jumped up and bit me in the face, in the head and the neck.”

Battling a mountain lion

The dog quickly found itself outmatched, despite

the cat appearing sickly.

Wilson said the cat clamped its fangs onto the dog’s head and wouldn’t let go. She tried hitting the cat with rocks and her fists. She tried getting her arm around its throat to pry it off. She gouged at its eyes. No matter hard she tried, it held on.

She ran back to her truck, grabbed a tire iron and flagged down Sharon Houston, who happened to be passing by on the highway. Houston grabbed a PVC pipe and some pepper spray, and the pair raced down and began beating the cat and screaming at it to let go.

“I was yelling at it, ‘Get the f—- off my dog. Get the f—- off my dog,’ Wilson said. “And eventually it just let go, and Eva ran off.”

Wilson picked up her glasses that had fallen off during the scuffle, and she gave Houston a hug before hopping into the truck. She never learned Houston’s name until reading it in news articles following the attack.

Wilson raced down toward Redding with Eva bleeding on the seat beside her. She struggled not to cry Thursday outside the vet’s office as she remembered what it was like to see Eva start convulsing on the frantic drive down the hill.

“I was begging her the whole time,” Wilson said as she fought back tears. “I was like, ‘Just stay with me, dog. I love you. I can’t live without you. Just don’t go. Don’t leave me.’ “

Belgian Malinois not for everyone

Wilson said she got the dog when Eva was about four months old from a family with young kids. They were overwhelme­d by the dog.

Belgian Malinois are commonly used by members of the military and police officers (A Belgian Malinois named Cairo accompanie­d the Navy SEALs on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden). They’re a high-strung breed that Wilson admits probably wouldn’t be an ideal choice for everyone.

“They’re really high drive, and they’re really intense,” she said. But the pair just meshed, she said. They’ve since traveled around the country together with Wilson’s fiance, Connor, who was with Wilson Thursday to escort Eva home to the duck and turkey farm they’re starting in rural Trinity County, a place where Eva has lots of room to roam.

 ?? XAVIER MASCAREñAS/THE SACRAMENTO BEE/TNS ?? Erin Wilson hugs her young Belgian Malinois named Eva who was injured from fighting a mountain lion. Wilson said Eva saved her life after a mountain lion clawed her shoulder while they were walking along the Trinity River on Monday.
XAVIER MASCAREñAS/THE SACRAMENTO BEE/TNS Erin Wilson hugs her young Belgian Malinois named Eva who was injured from fighting a mountain lion. Wilson said Eva saved her life after a mountain lion clawed her shoulder while they were walking along the Trinity River on Monday.

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