Can a dog be afraid of a mountain lion? Probably. But can a dog be afraid of a mountain lion skull? Maybe if the dog could sense traces of the dead animal. What about a replica of a mountain lion skull?

Interacting with Visitors

We often take our snakes and skulls to White Tank Mountain Regional Park and set up a table to interact with and educate visitors about the fauna that inhabits the park. Of all the skulls we display, only three are replicas, and the mountain lion is one of those. I use that skull to attract children and teach them how to attach the jaw to the skull and then open and close it. “It’s like using a pair of scissors,” I tell them after pointing out the sharp teeth lining the back of the mouth.

Interacting with Canids

Recently, after working with some kids with this skull, as I turned to put it back on the table, I came face-to-muzzle with a large German shepherd. Since he appeared interested in what I had in my hands, I held the skull down a bit for him to investigate.  As he approached closer, I opened the jaw and exposed the mouth full of teeth.

Reacting to Mt. Lion Skull

Immediately, the shepherd reared back, eyes bulging with fear, tail lowered, trembling as he backed away, finally disappearing behind his owner and then peeking back around to see if the coast was clear.

Since that first episode, I’ve tried this with other dogs, but now only after asking permission from their owners. Small dogs seem unconcerned when faced with this scary predator, and most stick their nose into skull’s open jaws to examine it. Many big dogs, however, cower and react much the same as that German shepherd.

Not Science!

While this obviously is far from a scientific observation, I wonder if big dogs are more aware of the danger of such a predator or if they are merely more anxious than smaller dogs that often seem bold and fearless.  We’ll never know, but we can be assured that some dogs, like some people, are more sensitive to danger than others.


Some Dogs had no Fear

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Some Dogs were more Cautious


9 thoughts on “Reactions”

    • Yes Betty needs to publish a collection of these marvelous stories and the wisdom and joy of observing and learning from being so deeply connected to and in love with nature. I’m ready to place my order now.

      • Charmaine, many thanks for your kind words! There’s never a time while we’re doing our presentations that we don’t learn something ourselves. As they say, “The beat goes on!”

  1. Happy Belated Thanksgiving and early Merry Christmas Hanukkah and New Year. I loved this post. That’s certainly an interesting response by the big dogs. I burst out laughing though at the chutzpah of the wee dogs cause, you know, as we all do, the have delusions of grandeur! I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that, just watch them at the dog park trying to run the show. LoL. All the best to you and Chuck.


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