Guardian 'Angel' Dog Saves 11-Year-Old Owner from Cougar

01/05/2010 at 05:26 PM EST

Guardian 'Angel' Dog Saves 11-Year-Old Owner from Cougar
A heroic golden retriever appropriately named Angel is recuperating after bravely stepping in when a cougar viciously attacked her 11-year-old owner. The beloved family pet has become an instant celebrity, while citizens in her native Canada – and around the world – are praying for her full recovery.

"We're really lucky that he was saved by an Angel, because that's exactly what it was. There's no other word for it," said Jay Forman, father of 11-year-old Austin Forman, the Today show reports.

The drama began Saturday night when Austin walked outside his family's home in Boston Bar, B.C., to gather firewood. Almost immediately – and out of nowhere – a cougar began charging at him at top speed. But before the creature pounced, Angel stepped in to save the day.

"The dog obviously knew something was up because she ran toward me just at the right time and the cougar ended up getting her instead," said Austin.

Terrified and shaken, Austin ran inside for help, and the family listened in anguish as Angel and the cougar battled it out. "(She was) whining and making noises like we never heard before. We knew that cougar was killing our dog," said Austin's mom, Sherri.

Sherri quickly called 911. Chad Gravelle, a constable for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, made it over to the home just in time: He shot the cougar seemingly moments before it would have delivered its final blow to a struggling Angel.

"The cougar had its mouth over top of the dog's mouth trying to suffocate it, blood all over the animal," said Travis Comkin, Austin's cousin, who was also at the house at the time of the attack. "And out of nowhere the dog breathes a gasp of air – just, like, comes back from being dead and goes 'ahh,' and spits out blood. And I'm looking at her and holding her and I'm like, 'she's going to be all right, you guys.' "

Angel's injuries were serious – her skull was fractured and she sustained puncture wounds to her head and back leg– but she pulled through a successful surgery on Monday and is expected to make a complete recovery.

Angel may head home as early as Tuesday afternoon, and Austin told Matt Lauer he already has a reward ready for his "best friend": "I bought her a big, nice juicy steak."

See more hero pets on PEOPLEPets.com:
Pit Bull Who Lost Lips to Dogfighting Dies, but Leaves Powerful Legacy
Animal Lover Moves into Indiana Shelter to Raise Money for Needy Pets

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