A Fanny Bay woman preparing to drive her children to school Friday morning was unknowingly in the presence of a cougar that was on the driveway at her Leet Lane property.
Fortunately, Aga Schultes had started her van early in the cold weather. She normally walks out the door with her three-year-old daughter, who likes to walk the long way around the vehicle and come around the other side.
"It was very close," Schultes said Tuesday. "Usually at that time I drive my little girl to school. Thanks to the frosty weather, I decided to warm up the car before I take my little one and let her into the car.
"And I had my dogs with me...If the weather wouldn't have been so bad, she (daughter) probably would have faced the cougar very close. I don't know what would have happened then. Scary."
Her dogs are both Gordon setters, one an adult, the other a puppy. The latter jumped on her lap as she was starting the car, but Schultes pushed the animal away. When she lifted her head, she locked eyes with the cougar that was about two metres away.
The dogs began barking and the cougar backed off, at which point Schultes ran in the house to phone for assistance.
She said the bigger dog sensed the danger and backed away, but the pup followed the cat. The dog was gone more than three hours but conservation officers found her lost on the railroad tracks near Schultes' home.
"It was the happiest moment in that day when she managed to come home," she said. "The small one was thinking she don't know yet what wildlife means.
"It was lucky and unlucky, and it terrified me. I don't wish that experience to anyone, even my worst enemy. You can't predict cougars."
On Wednesday, a cougar and two cubs had been spotted four houses away from Schultes' home.
During their Friday search, she said COs discovered several dead deers, one of which was at the railroad track near her property.
"Apparently the dogs picked up the scent but they couldn't find it. It's still out here," said Schultes, who suggests people refrain from walking their dogs on the tracks for the time being. "They (cougars) can be watching you for weeks and know your routine."
Brook Petersen, Schultes' boss at the Buckley Bay PetroCan, said a cougar was spotted in a couple of yards and in the woods at Fanny Bay on the weekend.
"It seems to be doing a route through similar areas," he said. "Conservation was here for four or five hours that day. They tracked it with dogs but they couldn't find it."