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Spearfish dog just misses being lunch for an eagle

SPEARFISH (AP) — A Spearfish couple is keeping a closer eye on the outdoor wanderings of their Shih Tzu, after the small dog almost became lunch for an eagle.

Al Shumaker told the Black Hills Pioneer that 7-month-old Popeye was roaming his backyard last weekend when a bald eagle spotted the dog and swept down for an easy meal. The bird's talons didn't catch, though, and the eagle ended up only bowling over the little dog.

"He would have had him for lunch," Shumaker said.

Shih Tzus are one of the most popular dogs in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club. They grow to about a foot in height and typically weigh about a dozen pounds.

Bald eagles are large birds, weighing 10-14 pounds and with a wingspan of 6-8 feet, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Their staple food is fish, but they also feed on small animals including turtles, rabbits and snakes.

The eagle that attacked Popeye flew up into a nearby tree after its unsuccessful attempt and perched there for about 15 minute before spying a pheasant that it successfully caught and ate, Shumaker said.

Shumaker says he or his wife now keeps watch over Popeye when the pooch goes outdoors.