SANTA MONICA, Calif.
— An avid wildcat, an avid mountain lion and a retired firefighter all made it to the top of Bald Mountain in Southern California.
And they have some very special gifts for each other.
One of them is a pet dog, named “Ginger.”
Bald Mountain, which sits on the edge of a national wildlife refuge, is a popular climbing area, and many of the animals that frequent the area get lost in the woods, according to Lisa Smith, a conservation officer for the San Francisco-based National Park Service.
Smith said she and her colleagues are trying to find a way to keep the dogs safe while trying to locate and train them.
She said the owners are very grateful for the dogs and hope to eventually bring them home to their family in Northern California.
The dogs are not being kept in a cage or pen.
They are just there, so that they can be with their owners as they climb the mountain, Smith said.
But, she said, they are very well-trained and their owners are hoping to bring them back to the mountains.
The owner of Ginger is a retired San Francisco firefighter who has been living in Santa Monica for decades.
He told CBS News he got the idea to build a mountain lion sanctuary after visiting Bald Mountain last summer.
“I’ve always had a fascination with mountain lions, and Bald Mountain is one of the most magnificent places I’ve ever seen,” he said.
“It’s a really cool place to climb.”
Smith said it’s very rare for a retired fireman or retired firefighter to become a wild cat.
Ginger has been trained to sit on his owners shoulders, she added.
The owners also plan to have him as a pet.
A retired firefighter named Mike Hulme told CBS affiliate KGO-TV that he was looking forward to the day when Ginger would get to spend time with his family.
“The idea of having Ginger, a wild dog, as my family pet, is really exciting,” he told KGO.
“I feel like I’ll be able to give him a lot of love and affection.”
There are no known wild cats in Santa Clara County, so this is really something special for the family,” she said.