in which cookie gets hold of a fish head, is attacked by an eagle, and almost makes me cry

This weekend we took Kai and Cookie to the beach both days. The beach was Diego's favourite place in all the world, so it was sad to be there without him. But the Littles are so entertaining; they keep us in the moment.

Yesterday, however, Cookie put on a show that was anything but entertaining.

The dogs were running and playing when, much further down the beach, a woman, a child, and an older dog appeared, walking to the water. The woman had a bucket. 

There are houses right near this beach -- for some people, the beach is directly across the street. We didn't know that people fish, clean their catch, and bring the refuse to the water to feed the birds. 

Both our dogs took off down the beach, likely to greet the old dog. Eagles and ravens appeared. Our dogs were not far behind.

Before I even got close, Cookie splashed into the water, and in a flash was running past me with the head of a salmon in her mouth. I could see the bright red flesh of the fish, the open mouth, the staring eye. 

I called out, "Oh that's not good!" 

The woman called out, "Don't worry, it's fresh!" 

Allan was petting the old dog. 

Cookie left me in her dust.

I walk after Cookie. There's zero chance of my catching her, but I want to at least keep her in my sights. She stops, gnaws and picks and tears at the fish head, and as I approach, grabs it and moves further away. When I look down the beach, Allan isn't even facing us. He appears to be taking pictures, probably of birds eating fish guts. (Later he told me he thought Cookie must have dropped the fish.) (Why would he think that?) 

Cookie draws me further and further down the beach, eating the fish head along the way. I speak sweetly to her, assure her she is a good girl, trying to calm her, but I never get within a foot of her collar. 

This went on for a long time.

Eventually Allan, from a distance, must have realized something was wrong, and started jogging towards us. Then the two of us did the Cookie Dance with Fish Head. 

Eagles appeared, and swooped down at Cookie! This is something to see. These eagles are huge. Their wingspans are easily eight feet, and their talons and beaks are weaponry -- and they came right at her. Cookie ducked and cringed -- but held on to her prize. I realized then that the eagles were our way out of this. But they flew off.

When the eagles left, Cookie was no longer playing. She was tired and unhappy. When we approached, she would growl. 

Allan tried a few things -- grabbing Cookie's tail (she's wet and slippery), giving me the camera and lunging for her (like we can possibly move faster than she can!), acting like we're leaving (she doesn't care). There's literally nothing we can do except stay close to her and wait for her to drop whatever's left.

This went on and on. 

The fish head is getting smaller. I can hear Cookie crunching on scales, see the hundreds of tiny bones sticking out. She will not let go. I keep thinking (and saying), eagles, where are you, we need you...

Finally two eagles came circling overhead, lower and lower. They seemed determined. Cookie was afraid of them now, cringing but looking up, salmon head clamped in her jaws. An eagle swooped within a foot of her face. Finally, worn down, Cookie dropped the fish and trotted a few steps away. While I grabbed her collar, the eagle swooped down and flew off with the salmon head.

Cookie was quiet and exhausted. So was I.

Note to self: if I ever see anyone at the beach carrying a bucket, grab the dogs and get them on-leash.

No, cancel that. 

Note to self: during fishing season, stick to the area of the beach far away from houses.

Postscript: so far there seem to be no ill effects, other than Cookie's face smelling like fish.


Rural said...

I have had numerous 'second hand' dogs and its always a bit of a challenge to get them trained to your standards at first, with my current 'companion' who has been with me about 10 years I am not sure who has who trained .......!

Amy said...

OMG, that must have been both stressful and exhausting. Where was Kai all this time?

It sounds like she didn't have any problems with the bones, so she should be okay. I take it Allan never got a photo of either the eagles or Cookie with the fish head.

allan said...

Kai was wandering around, staying near us, staring up at the eagles, sometimes trying to chase them. ... I took a few pictures from far away as I was jogging back. I wish we had a shot of the fishhead in her mouth. It was huge. ... Her poop seems okay.

The Mound of Sound said...

Have you encountered the golden eagle yet? There aren't many of them but they're considerably larger than the bald eagle. According to nature guides it's best never to take any chances when golden eagles are around. From my rare run-ins with them I can attest that those big buggers don't fear much, including me.

impudent strumpet said...

I had no idea eagles' wingspans were so big!

When I was visiting BC as a kid, I saw an eagle carrying a fish in its claws (which was pretty mindblowing given that my previous most exciting wildlife encounter was seeing a deer!)

But if the eagle's wingspan is 8 feet, the fish was probably at least 3 feet long, maybe even 4 feet!

laura k said...

Rural, rescue dogs come in all varieties of obedience. Kai would have dropped it and come back to us. So would one or two past dogs. Cookie has a mind of her own. She's learning a lot -- but only as much as she wants to. :)

Mound, not sure if I've seen a golden eagle. I have seen a huge bird near the beach twice, that I couldn't identify. I thought it might be an osprey. I'll google a pic of golden.

Imp, seeing an eagle fly off with something in its talons is so incredible. We've seen it a couple of times, what appeared to be fish guts. You do NOT want to have a tiny toy dog around here. You'd have to carry it, or eaglets would be dining on it.

Amy, Allan kept saying he was sorry he couldn't get pics with the eagle so close. I was so frustrated and upset, I felt like chucking the camera at him.

Amy said...

I can imagine wanting to throw something at him---perhaps the dead fish. But didn't I see a few photos on Facebook of Cookie with the fish and an eagle hovering above with you walking near Cookie? Or did I dream that?

allan said...

I was so frustrated and upset, I felt like chucking the camera at him.

Since we weren't catching Cookie - we needed a big fishing net to throw over her -- I figured we might as well take a photo or two.

laura k said...

Amy, you did not dream that. Allan posted two pics on FB but I asked him to take them down.

He must have taken them before he caught up with us, he was very far away. But when the eagles were close -- TOO close -- Allan was saying it was a shame to miss the photo op.

laura k said...

Rural, I should also note that Cookie had NO training before we adopted her. She lived in a basement where she could pee and poop anywhere and walk away from it, and she ran wild outside. Their idea of training was to yell her name over and over. So we are starting from ZERO!

Good thing she's so cute. ;)

Stephanie said...

Cookie is wonderful but food is food. Maybe start some recall training, never hurts as we've learned. We've got Lucas coming back now but distraction (a fish head) are still difficult. Not sure she will return when a fish head is on the line.

laura k said...

We work on recall training all the time. Cookie is not very inclined to return! And as you said, food is food. Many dogs will respond to "drop it" but a dog who is both super smart and super willful is a big challenge.

allan said...

She has had NO recall training for however old she is, minus the days we've had her!
Same with house training. It's all new.

johngoldfine said...

Our pup Fonzie has nearly 100% recall, but she also has her own ideas and, once we'd called her back the other day, she had no intention of getting in the car. Why should she--she likes the beach!

She also is pretty easy to intimidate so I just stalked her for five seconds and she rolled onto her back and let me pick her up. So, we're chaining the recall into a 'come, sit, whoa' sequence (when I say 'whoa' I put my hand on her collar.) Then click, release, treat, all done and on to the next adventure.

Stephanie said...

Challenge indeed! That sounds like Lucas. Everything is a game to him. What treats can I get out of you if I run around?