The two German shepherds were usually on self-imposed duty protecting the children. They lay by the door watching cars and people go by on the street. Sometimes their ears would turn and focus on certain sounds. If the sounds were benign or considered normal the ears would relax. If the noises hinted of trouble the ears would swivel and face the location. Then their low throaty growls would gradually get louder until the problem was resolved or I told them it was okay and they could relax. I thought they were rough and tough and ready for any situation that arose.
There were exceptions to their tolerance to noise. Although they had been trained to ignore gunshots while in protection mode they were never quite ready for fireworks and firecrackers. The sudden splashes of light and sound, as well as their confusion when pops and bangs came from varying locations, startled them into jumping and running for cover. They never learned to adjust to any fireworks whether the explosions were large or small. When the first firecracker exploded on special occasions both dogs became nervous shaking puppies.
Thunderstorms were another source of noise that could not be avoided. When one of those dazzling displays of lightning occurred with accompanying thunder, Rex and Cleo would crowd closer to me, content to have my hand pat them occasionally. When the thunder became too loud and took them out of their comfort zone, they would dash for the bed and squeeze underneath.
One night in the midst of a very loud and powerful storm the power went out. It was already after ten so my wife and I hurriedly put the children to bed and retired for the night. We lay in bed talking about the events of the day, the children, and things we needed to do tomorrow.
Lightning struck a tree outside splitting it in half, and the resulting boom shook the house. At the same time our bed rose several inches. My wife screamed and the children came running and piled on top.
She tried to slide off the bed to get everyone resettled. As she turned to get up, a head met hers, made one big slurp and dived underneath the bed again. She screamed even louder this time.
Thinking we were under attack by the elements I grabbed the children and headed for the basement. Rex and Cleo chose this moment to escape the close quarters. They jumped on the bed and knocked my wife to the floor. She screamed again and then fainted.
I called Rex and Cleo and they slunk down the steps and hid. I went to find my wife, concerned that she was badly injured. She wasn’t in bed nor did I find her in the bedroom. I didn’t know she was on the other side of the bed, on the floor, next to the wall.
I went from room to room, tripping over all the things left behind when the lights went out. Ignoring the pain I continued to search. The lights came back on. The children returned and I ordered them back to bed. The dogs returned and I ordered them back to their beds although they returned several times to see if I really meant for them to get out.
Everything was returning to normal but I had to find my wife. Had she ventured out into the storm? Was she injured or worse? My mind was exploding with possibilities. Despite my commands Rex and Cleo bounded past me and squeezed between the bed and the wall. Unfortunately it was at that precise time that my wife awoke. She screamed again. The children came running, the dogs started giving her doggie kisses, and I thought she was injured for sure.
After the dogs and children were resituated I pulled my wife to her feet. She looked at me crossly. “Don’t you dare say anything,” she snapped.
I turned around and walked out onto the front porch. I studied the clear sky and took a deep breath of fresh air. I tried not to smile but I couldn’t help it.
In a few moments my wife joined me. “Aren’t you coming back to bed?”
“I’ll be there in a few moments. The air is so clean and crisp after a storm and I want to enjoy it.”
She put her arm around me. “”I want to hear your version of tonight’s events before I go to sleep. I’ll bet it’s funny.”
“Honey, It wasn’t funny until I knew you were okay. Then I grinned, that’s all. It was a rough scary night. One I’ll remember.”
She hugged me and went inside. I knew things were going to be all right.