On Thursday, April 6, 2006, I was involved in an incident with a rabid mountain lion. The Payson Roundup reported that I was the owner of the LF Ranch. This is not true. I am simply the caretaker there. This is my story:
I would like to tell you of a bunch of heroes. On Thursday, April 6, at around 3 p.m., I heard one of my dogs bark a predator warning bark while I was doing some work in the house. Knowing that something was out there, from Tippy's bark, I walked to the back door and looked out in time to see something big walking in the brush line along the headquarters fence on the eastern side of the property. It continued to the gate and stopped for a minute. It was a mountain lion.
I made a leap for where I usually keep a rifle. Unfortunately, I had just removed all my firearms to a secure, locked area in anticipation of some friends coming to visit with their child that next weekend, and my rifle wasn't there. I returned to the door in time to see the mountain lion running across the yard straight toward my sheep pen.
I couldn't have a mass slaughter happen right in front of my very eyes, so I grabbed up a rock bar from where I had been working earlier and started running for the sheep pen to scare him away. I was standing there, making a whole lot of noise, thinking that I was actually going to have to feed that lion the rock bar, because he is not alarmed and approaching fast.
The lion was running straight for me and was about 5 feet away when my main hero, Arkie, finished tearing down the screen porch door and hit that lion so hard broadside that they tumbled for 3 or 4 feet locked in a clinch, with Arkie trying to shake that lion by the throat. I tried to hit the lion with my bar but was afraid to hurt Arkie the way they were thrashing, so I ran over and turned Tippy loose. Then, I ran over and turned Dixie and Willie loose. By now, they have got the lion cornered in the sweat lodge, but he is holding his own, pressed up against the tarps and clawing everything within reach to shreds. So, at this point, I see a good place to end this before things get totally out of hand and I run up and try to spear the lion with the bar where he is pressed against the tarps.
This doesn't kill him, but now he is very seriously injured and is knocked out of the sweat lodge. The fight continues through the brush and on toward the river. At this point, I run up hill and release Waylon and Dee Dee, and then back down to where my best lion dog is secured. After releasing Jeanie, I run and get a pistol out of the safe and head toward the sound of the fight. When I arrived, the lion was dead.
There were no serious injuries to my dogs, mainly scratches with a few bad bites, so I took them back home and treated all the injuries. When I had finished this, and after thinking about the strange behavior of the lion, I decided to call my veterinarian to tell of the incident. On his recommendation, I returned to the carcass and removed the head to submit it for rabies testing.
Friday morning, I turned the head over to the animal control officer, Don Tanner, and he took it to Phoenix for testing. Then, I had rabies and general inoculations for all the hounds and we returned home. Upon returning, I found the hound, Willie, dead. I had not been able to find him since the fight the previous day. See him there hurt, but he was an old dog that had not been doing well, and I felt that he had died a hero. Saturday, the test came back positive for rabies, and I received the first calls from Gila County Rabies Control.
Now, my dog story turns from heroic to heart breaking. Times have been tough for me with the drought and all the inoculations have lapsed for my old hounds. Most of their rabies shots had expired in 2004. Somehow, I should have scraped the money together. Now, Arkie is in quarantine at the Gila County facility in Globe, and the other dogs were forced into small cages, hauled straight to the Humane Society in Payson and destroyed like pieces of trash.
Waylon had been my constant companion for 15 years, never missing a step with me. If I had money, I would have put all my heroes into quarantine instead of just Arkie. My own rabies treatment has already cost half of my year's wages, and Arkie's fees are $7 a day for six months. He saved my life, and he needs help to cover his quarantine fees, so please, if you can help, please do so.