It was just another hike in the Mount Evans Wilderness for Cary Leppert and Tieg, his Labradoodle last weekend. Until suddenly it wasn't.
“All of a sudden I hear a scream and instantaneously I knew it was mountain lion,” Leppert told sister station KCNC. “It was a roar--really loud like a scream. And in front of him I see Tieg darting through the trees and they were like within three feet of each other. He was just full of speed.”
Experts say sightings of the elusive animal are rare, so when Leppert saw the mountain lion crouch and stare right at him, he couldn't believe his eyes.
"The only thing on my mind is, 'I have to get the shot, I've got to get a picture,'" Leppert recalled.
Face to face with the mountain lion, Leppert and a friend snapped photo after photo and took video for more than 10 minutes. Though the mountain lion continued to hiss--perhaps to show its displeasure at its uninvited company--it never moved.
Leppert's close call didn't sink in until that night.
“It just really hit me, I was almost shaking on Sunday night thinking that I could have lost Tieg. Two feet and he would have been dead…I could have ran up there and gotten killed,” he said.
Experts say pets are easy prey for mountain lions, and advise owners to always keep their dog on a leash if their canine companion is joining them on a hike. Leppert says next time he and Tieg go hiking, he's keeping Tieg close to his side.