An Alberta man who grabbed a cougar by the tail in attempt to rescue his dog from the cat's jaws says he was acting on instinct and adrenaline.

"Everything happened very quickly," said Dean Hordal. "After I thought about what I done, it's not something I would probably do again."

Hordal and his wife Lori were walking their schnauzer Mikah on a multi-use trail near the western Alberta forestry town of Hinton, when a streaking blur caught their eye.  

"We saw a cougar," said Hordal. "It was pretty much in full flight.  We noticed the tail right away. That's why we realized right away it was a cat."

Mikah was about 10 metres ahead of the couple when the cougar knocked him down and, "effortlessly" grabbing the 30-pound dog by the neck, continued over the embankment on the far side of the trail.

Hordal followed hoping the cat would drop Mikah and when it didn't, he too went down the embankment.

The cat stopped.

"I'm not sure if he was trying to get a better grip on him or what," Hordal said.

But  instead the cougar shot up a tree.

"I went up after him a bit and managed to get a hold of his tail," he said.  "He actually dropped the dog and the cat continued up the tree and I continued down the tree."

They couple retreated back to town with their injured pet.

It was only after they got Mikah to the veterinarian to find out he was not badly hurt that Hordal let what happened sink in.

" It was probably 30 seconds to a minute it all happened," he said. "I never seen (a cougar) in the wild before and I hope I never really do again."

He said in the three weeks since the encounter Mikah is doing well. His stitches have been removed and the only symptom remaining from the incident is Mikah's high-pitched "strangled bark."

Alberta Fish and Wildlife later treed a cougar in the area with the help of dogs, but the animal escaped. A second cat was flushed out in the chase, he said. 

He's now warning people to watch their children and keep their dogs on a leash around town.

"If it was a larger cat and it decided it wanted to get a human, I don't think it'd have too much trouble really."

The attack happened a couple of weeks before a Banff resident fought off a cougar with a skateboard when it attacked him.