Tale of Tails: Tino and the Surprise Visitor

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One of my more scary stories of Tino has to do with a trip we took many years ago. We are not big travelers and we like to take the dogs with us whenever we take a vacation. Frequently we rent a cabin on Big Bear Lake and it’s a great relaxing time swimming, boating, hiking. We also like traveling north to Santa Barbara and Ojai.


Tino, scouting from the dock in Beg Bear (don’t have any pics from Ojai).

One summer when Sally and Tino were young, we rented a home in the hills of Ojai for a long weekend. We planned to  relax, do some hiking, visit with some friends who lived there and lounge by the pool the house offered watching the beautiful ‘pink’ sunsets of Ojai. (Since Ojai is lined up with an east-west mountain range, it is one of few towns in the world to have a “Pink Moment” occur as the sun is setting. The fading sunlight creates a brilliant shade of pink for several minutes on the Topatopa Bluffs, over 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above sea level at the east end of the Ojai Valley)

Steve got stuck at work, and since it was only an hour drive, I drove up in the afternoon with the dogs. The place we rented was maybe a 5 minute drive outside the main street in a sparsely populated section of Ojai. The valley is surrounded by the TopaTopa and Sulphur mountains and is really a beautiful area.

I arrived with the dogs, unpacked the car and set out to explore the acre property. It was supposed to be fully fenced so that I could comfortably let the dogs roam, although I wanted to check the fence line and ensure their safety. The property was very wooded with a small open space by the house and pool. There was a path leading down away from the house, so the dogs and I set out to wandering our temporary home.

There was a neighboring house that I could see through the trees and I figured that’s where the fence line was, so we aimed in that direction. Tino was usually the ‘scout’ on our off-leash walks, out in front seeing what there was to see, scouting. Sally usually wandered slowly behind me taking her time. As we were walking, Tino and Sally were off sniffing and exploring having a grand time. I was enjoying the quiet and solitude. And then I noticed a dog walking parallel to us – he seemed to be walking along the fence line because it was a bit farther down the hill. I knew if Sally and Tino saw him, they would run off to play with their new found friend.

I called to both of them so I could put them back on their leashes. They both started back, but then I saw the dog running and started to get a little nervous. It wasn’t running towards us, just parallel to us, but I knew the movement would attract Tino’s eye, and sure enough he saw it and rather than come back to mom, he decided to go check it out.

I called to him again as I grabbed Sally. I was keeping my eye on the dog so I could judge it’s size and demeanor – it looked like a larger dog – maybe 90lb and maybe a Lab/Pyrenees mix. And then I watched as this dog ran up a tree.

I paused and thought, wait a minute…what…what kind of a dog is that? And then it hit me, that’s not dog, it’s a mountain lion.

I freaked. I had Sally on the leash, but Tino was on his way down the hill to investigate. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go after Tino with Sally, so I ran back to the house, screaming for Tino as I went, but he was in the prey zone and going after whatever that was he just saw. I put Sally in the house and looked around for some kind of weapon. The best I could come up with was a broom. I grabbed it and went tearing out of the house yelling and screaming not knowing what I was going to find when I got back down the hill.

I was watching the trees overhead and the ground below looking for Tino. Luckily I saw him down the hill, sniffing around the very tree that I’d seen the mountain lion run up. He as excited beyond belief…like he would have taken that lion (fat chance). I grabbed him, leashed him up and ran back to the safety of the house as quickly as I could. I saw no sign of the mountain lion…did I imagine it, was it just a cat? No, I couldn’t possibly mistake a cat for a big Lab…

I called Steve, told him to get his butt up there quickly because I was afraid to leave the house now. Then I called my friends who lived in Ojai and they told me that seeing a mountain lion is supposed to be a sign of strength & good luck, so I should consider myself lucky…right. They did talk me in off the ledge though and to say this put a damper on our weekend would be untrue. I settled down pretty quickly and realized that the mountain lion was probably long gone after an hour or so. I was able to sit outside by the pool – with a big glass of wine – and watch the beautiful sunset. And we got another adventure to add to our list of Tino’s Tales.

How about you – ever had a run in with a predator? What did you do?

Monday Mischief

We are joining the Monday Mischief Blog Hop hosted by Snoopy’s Dog Blog, Alfie’s Blog, Luna Dogs Life and My Brown Newfies



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  1. Yikes! Never had a mountain lion encounter – that would freak me out, too! Good thing it was more scared of Tino, than Tino of it.
    Jen K recently posted…Monday Mischief 17: Calgary Blue ItselfMy Profile

  2. Exciting story, though I’m sure I would not have find it exciting if I were in your shoes. Glad it turned out fine. 🙂 No chance of us meeting anything dangerous over here… 🙂
    weliveinaflat recently posted…Cat at 12 o’clock obstructing the road! =^._.^=My Profile

  3. I’ve seen coyotes but thankfully never when Mr. N is with me. And birds of prey. Have to worry about those too.
    Tenacious Little Terrier recently posted…Monday Mischief #9 – World of OctobersMy Profile

  4. Oh my gosh, that is terrifying! Good on you for getting back out there broom in hand! Do you get mountain lions often through populated areas? Here in Australia the only big thing that can get you are crocs – it’s mostly snakes we have to look out for on the trails!

  5. Wow what a way to welcome you. The thing that makes me nervous at the cabin is the wildlife we might run into when airing the dogs at night. There are coyotes and occasionally black bear in our area. We always take the dogs out on leash, but when they start watching something in the dark, it is time to hurry back to the cabin. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Monday Mischief–Tail Chasin’My Profile

  6. Deer and coyotes but that is about it. I hear that there are wolves and an occasional bear around but we have never run into those, thankfully! Glad you did not get hurt or lose a dog, but it would be neat to see in the wild if the dog was safe.
    emma recently posted…Just Say Boo to Poo | GBGV | #ScoopThatPoopMy Profile

  7. Wow! I would of been scared too!
    We get deer, coyotes, foxes and recently a bobcat has been spotted in the area, but the closes encounter has been with deer. They don’t seem as timid as they use to be!
    Jen recently posted…10 Dog Related Things I’ve Asked For And Didn’t GetMy Profile

  8. Holy crap! You had my heart rate up! I encounter hawks somewhat regularly, but that’s a little different. Actually, hawks have killed two of my girls. We chased off two large black hawks just yesterday.

    I’m glad it all ended well with you. 🙂
    Flea recently posted…Funny Bone Monday, 45My Profile

  9. I’d have freaked out, too! Glad everything turned out the way it did and you’re now able to look back on the experience with a smile!
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…National Pet Wellness Month at Our HouseMy Profile

  10. I’m not sure what to think now…if it was around here I might have said a bear, but that wouldn’t ease your mind much either…Tino sure had an adventurous life…Your ‘pink sunset’ is like the green flash we get at sunset down in Key West
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…All the News That’s Fit to Scoop With #PoopBuddy – Plus a GiveawayMy Profile

  11. Good gravy! I can’t believe you kept a cool enough head to do everything you did! It’s interesting to me that in those situations where I’ve run into a rattlesnake that was rattling or a coyote following us – since I’ve gone through the scenarios ahead of time in my head, I seem to react in a more appropriate way than if I encounter something completely unexpected. I’m going to have to add mountain lion to my hypothetical situations to think about.

    On a lighter note – that mountain lion probably heard you hollering and saw the broom and bolted for a safer place! 😉 So relieved things turned out well.
    Blueberry’s human recently posted…Friday Night HikeMy Profile

  12. Holy crap was my heart pounding reading this. So glad nothing happened and I bet Tino thought why are you freakin out.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Monday Mischief~Rehab WarriorMy Profile

    • Oh, I’m sure he was – he lived on his own for months, so nature was well second nature to him.

  13. Scary! We used to run in a canyon that had mountain lion warning signs, but luckily we never saw one. We often saw coyotes there, but always had the dogs on leash.

    Been meaning to go check out Ojai. Except for the mt. lion part, it sounds nice! (We get the green flash here too. You just need to be watching the sunset on a flat horizon – like the ocean. Saw it for the first time a couple of years ago – so pretty!)
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…Monday Mischief: Even More in Awe of Betty White NowMy Profile

  14. OMD a mountain Lion! That’s craaazy scary. So glad you survived the encounter!
    Misaki recently posted…Broom attack!My Profile

  15. oh wow! That is quite the encounter….rarely do you get to see a mountain lion! We usually carry bear spray on our hikes “just in case”.
    A Husky Life recently posted…Training Thursday: How To Teach a Dog To Use a TreadmillMy Profile

  16. I was tensed up just reading the story….I can only imagine how frightened you must have been! I would have been totally freaked out also. We had a black bear outside our house one night, and I had just let our dog Shelby out when my hubby yelled from the other side of the house that a bear was on our deck. Thank goodness Shelby had no interest….she in fact came running back around and into the house quite quickly after seeing it!
    Jan K recently posted…Tuesday’s Tails – Adopt BosleyMy Profile

    • Luckily no bears around here as I think Jack would probably give chase.
      mkob recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 10-23-13My Profile

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