It was PAW Patrol to the rescue for an adventure-attracting Loon Lake two-year-old and Felix the cat, who presumably only has eight lives left after a potentially nasty eagle encounter was averted by a dollar store helmet.
Leanne Peters, her husband Kevin, and daughters Morgan (four) and Carsyn (two) love living at their ranch in what Leanne calls “the heart of the wilderness” at Loon Lake, south of Clinton. The family is no stranger to media attention, however: Kevin is a world-renowned sculptor, while Carsyn created headlines when she made an early arrival in the parking lot of a Cache Creek restaurant in February 2019 as Leanne and Kevin were en route to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops for Leanne to give birth.
Two weeks ago, Carsyn was outside the family home playing with Felix, one of the barn cats that lives on the property. The area plays home to a large number of bald eagles, and Leanne says that the family loves to watch them soaring overhead or perched above the creek that borders their ranch, waiting for their next meal. However, it isn’t just fish that the eagles go after.
“In spring especially there are lots of them; we count a dozen in the sky all the time. They’re always after our ducks and chickens, so we’re always watching when we see an eagle flying low.”
Cats also attract their attention, and on this day one of the birds clearly had Felix in its sights. Leanne saw one particular eagle diving at a distance, and knew Carsyn was outside, but didn’t think the bird was going anywhere near her.
“I thought it was going in the creek. Its feet were down like it was committed to diving, and it was eight feet off the ground when my husband yelled.”
Carsyn loves the family’s barn cats, and chases them around and plays with them all day. She had been playing with Felix, and was wearing a plastic PAW Patrol helmet that was left over from Morgan’s birthday party. “Carsyn isn’t a huge PAW Patrol fan — her sister is — but she loves wearing hats or helmets, thankfully,” says Leanne.
The eagle’s eyes were zoned in on Felix, and Leanne says it probably only saw Carsyn at the last second, when the girl came out from behind a tree.
“It turned its head and looked at her, and when Kevin yelled, Carsyn looked at him like ‘What?’ She didn’t notice the eagle, but the eagle saw her.
“It was committed, and didn’t have time to stop, so when Kevin yelled and it saw Carsyn it pulled one foot up, but still had one foot down. It bounced off the helmet and pushed off with that one foot, got its wings going again, and took off. We’ve never had one dive that close to us.”
The blow was strong enough to knock the helmet from Carsyn’s head and tumble the girl to the ground. “She wasn’t scared or crying,” says Leanne. “She just kind of looked up and around and said ‘No!’ like she was annoyed that her helmet had been knocked off. Then she said ‘Kitty hurt?’ three times in a row, so I think she knew what had happened.”
Although Carsyn and Felix were unscathed, it was only when they looked at the helmet that Leanne and Kevin realized what a close call it had been.
“All four talons made contact; there were four scratches on the helmet. It’s pretty unbelievable. It’s a hard plastic helmet. and one claw almost pierced through and put a crack in the helmet. The skin on the top of her head is way softer, so if she wasn’t wearing the helmet those marks would have been on her head, and we definitely would have been off to the hospital.
“They have dirt in their claws so there’s a risk of infection, even if it’s just superficial scratches, but those probably wouldn’t have been. An eagle’s claws are quite sharp. I can’t imagine what a disaster this could have been and what a near miss it was. She’s obsessed with putting hats on, so thank goodness she likes wearing them, otherwise it could have been a very different thing. It’s scary how if one little detail had been different, how our day or week could have gone.”“
Leanne says that Carsyn has talked about the incident a little bit since it happened.
“She’ll hear us talking about it, and chime in ‘Eagle no hurt kitty.’ She also associates the helmet with the incident, and every once in a while she’ll see one of the cats and go ‘Eagle, kitty, no.’”
Carsyn also has a word of warning for any nearby eagles she spots.
“We have eagles flying around here all the time, so she sees them a lot, and will say ‘No!’ as if to say ‘I’m going to tell that eagle to stay away from my kitty.’ She’s pretty confident and outgoing, and not easily scared. Nothing fazes her.”
Leanne says that even at the tender age of two, Carsyn is getting a reputation for creating good stories.
“Our tough two-year-old girl saved her kitty, and a cheap dollar store PAW Patrol hat saved her. That’s our girl. We’ll have to get a bigger baby book for her.”