So I ran into a mountain lion

My folks went on vacation recently, leaving my sister and me to walk their dog for a week. The day before they left, my dad thought he saw the shadow of a mountain lion on the driveway of a house a couple lots down from my parents’ house. He wasn’t certain about it, though, and Yoshi (the dog) didn’t react to it.

I’d taken the late evening walks, and for the first four days–despite paranoid attempts to be even more aware of my surroundings than usual–I had seen nothing out of the ordinary. (You try being mindful of the possibility of a predatory cat in your vicinity at night, with only a small flashlight to aid you. It’s hard! It’s not like you can go shining the light into everybody’s yard, either.)

Nothing happened on the fifth night’s walk, either. On my way home, though, some animal came out of the brush on the left side of the road, ran along the road ahead of me (in the oncoming traffic lane) for a couple hundred meters, and then cut in front of my car to dive into the brush on the other side of the road. It was quite dark, and my tired mind hadn’t expected anything of the sort, so I never really got a good look at it or how it was running… my mind tried to peg it as a short deer, but I wonder. I was going 35 miles an hour at the time, and the thing was keeping pace.

On the final day, I needed to walk Yoshi a bit earlier than usual so I could go pick my folks up at the airport. Yoshi happily headed towards the base of the hill that my folks live on, mostly wandering down the center of the street (…) and eventually electing to cross to the opposite side. I was mostly concerned with finishing the walk quickly, so I could get on the road.

On the opposite side of the street from where we were, I saw the back half of a giant dog–say a St. Bernard-class dog–with golden fur leaving the light of the driveway and apparently headed to the back yard (more likely beyond that, to the park).

The first thing that felt off was that there were no people around the dog. Then I realized (as the dog turned its back to me to move towards the back) that it was moving like a cat. Then I saw its long, cat-like tail dropping straight down to the ground.

While I was busy being thankful that it seemed to be moving away from me, I also had the chance to admire the huge amount of muscle visible in its hind legs. It was painfully obvious that it could run me down, even if it gave me a ridiculous amount of head start.

Yoshi didn’t see or smell it at all. I didn’t give him the chance.


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