Our first dog was a Labrador retriever/blood hound/cocker spaniel mix. He was quite odd looking but very sweet, loyal and exceptionally protective to all the family. He considered us all his pack and fiercely guarded the kids and me…and tolerated the pack leader, Dad Patrick.
The fence separated us from a twenty two acre plot that had recently been sold to a developer. A strip mall was to be built on the land within the next few months. They had given us notice they were building a ten foot block wall along the back of all the homes to shield them from the noise and unsightly view. The construction of the wall was to take place in a few weeks so our sorry broken wood fence would be replaced by a nice new tall block fence at no expense to us. I was excited as I knew our budget could not have handled such an extravagance. I even asked big Pat to move the bee-hives he kept next to the old fence so when the construction crew tore it down we wouldn’t have bees all over the place. (Another story)
The boys, trying to help, turned on the hose and began squirting at the dogs and the man (including me clinging to his back.) I know they were trying to stop the melee, but the water simply added to the mess. The girls ran inside and yelled for their Dad. He was taking a shower and when he heard the commotion quickly tried to get his pants on while soaking wet. He was struggling to get dressed and was hopping around the living room and over to the window. I looked up to see the confusion on his face as he tried to discover what I was yelling about. As he stumbled around the corner and over to the picture widow he was shocked at the sight he saw. The pots on the patio were swinging like knockers on bells, his wife was riding around clinging to a strange man’s back yelling like a banshee, the boys were manning the hose like firemen putting out a blaze and all the while the man with his arms locked to his sides was waving a huge hunk of wood scattering eggs, dye, and plants everywhere.
By the time Patrick returned to the back yard, both of the interloper dogs were over the fence and half way across the huge lot. The stranger followed his dogs so fast, that when Patrick, chased after them, he couldn’t catch up. He could see them far in the distance crossing the main highway. He got in our car and tried to find them, but never did. Later he told me he wanted to make sure the guy was okay, but I've always hoped he was planning to punch 'em. The stranger and his dogs had vanished, never to be seen again.
(Here is Patrick Jr., Colleen, Becca and Megan Easter of 1979, and Me with "Tuna."
The neighbor boys who took Karate each Saturday were impressed with my skills and I became an icon. "Don't mess with the Mom." They said, "She's a good fighter." They backed up the stories that were told for the next few weeks at Strathern Street school with interesting and colorful details. All our kids bragged that Tuna and I were spectacular by providing the best egg dying and Kung- fu exhibition ever.
I think Patrick is still amazed by my behavior, and to tell the truth...so am I. But I guess you never know what you are capable of doing, until it happens.
Tuna died of old age a few months after the "Stranger" incident and is buried in the yard he so valiantly defended.