Lost in the Wilderness, Part 1

One day, Dad came home and told us that he had been fired from his job at the radio station. As it turns out, there was a very serious dispute between the employees and the owner of the radio station over the issue of unionization. The owner didn’t want a unionized shop and management did, so the owner fired everyone whether they were in favour or not.

In addition to Dad and all the other technical and administrative staff that were let go, a number of local veteran broadcasters such as Jack Fraser, Elmer Tippy and Jack Davis had to go find new jobs. Most of them ended up later working at CKWX, a much larger country music station located in Vancouver.

It was hard for Dad to find work in his chosen profession. So after some long searching, he eventually settled for a job as a night security guard with a company called “Guard Dog Security” in Langley. This was kind of a step down for Dad, but he did what he had to do to support his family, and made the best of it.

Dad’s ability with dogs proved to be an asset in his new job, where he worked with one dog regularly. The dog Dad worked with the most was a large male shepherd named Luke. Because Luke stayed with us whenever Dad worked with him, he soon became a familiar guest of our family.

like-luke-final
This is not actually “Luke”, but a very similar looking dog. This beautiful painting is by artist Gail MacGregor, used with her kind permission. Check out her web site.

One of the first things that Mum and Dad told us kids was that Luke was not like Sheba – he was a trained guard dog and was not used to little children. Dad’s words and Luke’s imposing size registered with me right away, but not so with my little sister. No sooner had Dad’s words of warning left his mouth when Kim ran outside and went right up to Luke. Not quick enough to catch her, Mum yelled after her as she watched helplessly from the porch.

“Kimberley – No!”

Undoubtedly, Mum and Dad were reliving the image of Kim getting her nose bitten open by a snarky old dog that Kim had approached a few years earlier. Luke could easily tear her to shreds if he felt threatened or was startled.

At age five, all Kim knew was that there was the biggest puppy dog she had ever seen standing right out front. She ran right up to Luke and threw her arms around his neck in a big hug. Luke just sat there getting hugged and didn’t move a muscle. As it turned out, Luke was very patient and tolerant of kids and didn’t seem to mind Kim’s attentions at all.

Luke was friendly, but he was still trained to respond to certain actions and temperaments in adults. That’s why he was a good guard dog. We were reminded of Luke’s “guard dog” abilities one time in particular. Usually Dad kept Luke chained up to our large doghouse, and he was also strictly kept outdoors. Sometimes though, Luke would be let off his chain to walk with Dad or Mum. On one of these occasions, Luke observed Mum yelling loudly at Kim and I and raising her hand in the air. My mother would rarely strike us, but certainly could be loud. Before Mum knew what had happened, Luke was up on his rear legs with his paws on Mum’s shoulders, face to face. As Luke looked into Mum’s eyes with an expression that all but said “Just what do you think you’re doing?”, Mum laughed and remarked on just what a good protective guard dog he was.

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