A cougar attacked a B.C. family's golden retriever Saturday night after the dog stepped in between the cougar and an 11-year-old boy.

Police, who later shot the cougar dead, credited the 18-month-old dog -- Angel -- for saving the boy's life.

Austin Forman had gone to retrieve some firewood outside his family's home in Boston Bar, about 200 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

That's when the cougar began to charge across the yard at the boy.

"I was really scared. At first, I didn't know it was a cougar. I thought it was another dog," Austin told CTV News on Sunday. "As soon as it went underneath the light, I saw that it was a cougar. I knew at that moment, I had to go inside."

Angel, who had been at Austin's side, engaged the cougar, which was slightly larger than Angel.

Austin, meanwhile, ran into the house and screamed, "A cougar is eating Angel!" his mother, Sherri Forman, recalled in a phone interview with ctvbc.ca.

Forman said she had to get Austin to repeat himself a few times because he was so shaken.

Forman said she looked out the window. She couldn't see anything but could hear Angel wimpering.

"To feel so helpless, I knew I couldn't do anything," she said.

She called her father-in-law, who told her to call 9-1-1.

RCMP Const. Chad Gravelle was nearby and was on scene within a minute.

The officer found the cougar under the back porch and heard the dog cry out as the cougar chewed on its neck, police said.

The officer fired two rounds into the cougar's rear end, but the cougar continued its attack.

The officer closed in to within five feet and shot the cougar again, killing it.

Even after it was killed, the cougar's jaws were clenched on Angel's face, Forman said.

Angel was silent for a few moments but then took in a big gasp of air and got up.

Forman said Angel was recovering Sunday with a local animal caregiver. The dog has numerous puncture wounds around her head and neck, as well as a swollen eye.

Forman said before the attack, Austin had come into the house to tell the family how cute it was that Angel had been following him around.

"She must've known something was up," Forman said.

Last week, when Angel was frolicking in the snow, family members called her a "snow angel," Forman said.

"Now, she's our guardian angel."

With files from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward