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(UPDATE: August 3 @ 4 pm) - Apart from the gratefulness of being alive, Dee Gallant the woman who became internet famous for fending off a cougar by blasting Metallica’s “Don’t Tread On Me,” had the opportunity to finally thank James Hetfield for saving her life.
After having her incredible story picked up by news outlets across Canada, the U.S. and even Spain, Gallant was contacted by the heavy-metal band’s artist liaison early on Friday morning, only to be called by James Hetfield later that afternoon.
“I couldn't even believe he was calling me,” said Gallant. “I had hoped I would hear from them but when I first put it out there I didn't expect it to go this far.”
According to Gallant, she was skeptical at first, even asking the famed frontman “How do I know it is really you?”
“After that, all he said was ‘Well you can believe me, or just ask me anything!” laughed Gallant.
The two chatted for a few moments about her encounter and how Hetfield had seen her request to thank the band. They even got to talking about the differences between life on Vancouver Island and in California.
“He was just an absolutely wonderful guy, very down to earth and he even knew Murphy’s name. I still can’t believe James Hetfield knows my dog’s name,” she said.
Following the call, Gallant received a photo text message of Hetfield holding up the classic devil horns with a wide grin that read: “Thought you might like some confirmation that it was me.”
Gallant also said she texted the metal pioneer to wish him a happy birthday on Saturday morning to which he also replied.
Hetfield hasn’t been the only Metallica member to hear of Gallant's story. Guitarist Kirk Hammett shared an article from USA Today this passed Thursday (Aug. 1) to his verified Facebook page.
“It is so crazy, everyone has been so interested in my story, it’s actually quite funny.”
Gallant says she has been contacted by nearly everyone, having had her story shared by Consequence of Sound, CNN and soon she will be doing an interview with Fox News.
In addition to all of the attention from news sources, Gallant says she has also been recognized in her day to day life, with one man even stopping to ask her for a selfie.
What’s next, you may ask? Gallant has joked about capitalizing on her now beloved catchphrase “bad kitty” by creating her own lingerie line by the same name.
“It is fun, everyone has been really nice and receptive, I’m giggling to myself over the fact it is still going,” she said.
(Original Story: July 28 @ 3:30 pm) - A Vancouver Island resident is thanking heavy metal titans Metallica for her narrow miss with a cougar on Tuesday evening.
Dee Gallant and her husky Murphy, were out for their usual evening stroll on a logging road just outside of Duncan, BC in the Cowichan Valley, when she said she felt "like something was watching” them.
Their usual route takes them about five kilometres into the trees but Gallant said they only made it roughly two km in before they saw the animal.
“I looked over to the right and there it was, I couldn’t make it out at first and thought ‘oh that is a strange colour, that’s not a tree,'” she recalled.
It wasn’t until the predator was creeping toward them that she realized what it was.
“It was crouched down, doing that kind of prowl, predator walk that they do — that was when I waved my arms and yelled ‘hey, you stop!’ and it did.”
According to Gallant the animal “froze like a statue” keeping its eyes fixated on her and Murphy.
“Murphy hadn’t even seen it yet, he was just kind of sniffing around and didn’t know who I was yelling at or what was going on,” she said. “The wind was going in the wrong direction so he couldn’t smell it, which I am actually glad for because if he had, he would have started barking and likely charged it.”
At first, Gallant was more surprised to see a cougar only about 50 feet away from her, as prior to this she had only caught glimpses of them in other areas.
“Initially I wasn’t that scared, I remember thinking ‘cool that's a cougar,’ and then it was ‘why is it still there?’ before turning into ‘oh my god it’s coming toward me, I need to make it stop,” she said.
Once paused in its tracks, Gallant pulled out her phone to record the ongoing situation and proceeded to yell at the animal telling it to “get out of here” and calling it a “bad kitty.”
“It didn’t respond to that either, it just stayed locked on to me and seemed really interested, so that is when I decided to stop recording and try to do something else.”
Thinking quickly, Gallant took to her phone’s music library to try and find something that sounded the most human and most threatening, it was then that she landed on the track “Don’t Tread On Me” by Metallica.
“I thought it was the noisiest thing on my phone that would probably scare it, that was also the messaged I wanted to convey to the cougar,” she joked.
Once the song was selected, Gallant turned it up to full volume and faced it toward the cougar and luckily it worked.
“As soon as the first notes blared out it ran into the bush,” she said.
“After that, I was a little more scared because I couldn’t see it anymore and once it turned to run out I realized it was a lot bigger than I had thought, about three metres long from nose to tail,” she added.
Gallant and Murphy continued to walk a little further, sticking close together and in the middle of the trail, continuing to make noise and stay alert.
Having made it home, Gallant now attributes her safety to the band, saying she will now never leave home without them.
“I would love to contact them someday and tell James Hetfield that he saved my life,” she laughed.
Not sure what to do when face to face with a cougar? Wildsafe BC has some tips on their website to help you be prepared.
Make yourself look as large as possible
Back away slowly while keeping the cougar in view
Never run or turn your back
Do not make any sudden movements
If you notice a cougar is watching you:
Maintain eye contact
Speak in a loud and firm voice
Make loud noises