The separation was my idea, and I will not deny that. I had many reasons, including the total disrespect that Matt had for me. He just wasn't a nice guy if he wasn't getting his way, or if things were not going the way he had planned.
It was a late night, about a month after Matt moved out, when I heard someone pull into the drive way. I was sitting on the couch with Magnum next to me. Magnum immediately went to the door and barked once. Then there was a knock on the door. I unlocked the deadbolt and opened the door slightly, at 5'2" I was too short to see out of the peephole. It was Matt. We were really trying to get along at this point in the separation, so I had no problem allowing him into the house.
Once I did, and he started talking, I realized I made a huge mistake. He was drunk. And under the influence of Bacardi, his verbal abuse had occasionally become physical.
"I need to see the boys," he said.
"Matt, it is almost 1am... no, you can come over tomorrow to see them."
"You know this is all your fault. You are keeping me away from them on purpose!" His voice had gotten loud, and I knew he was going to get out of hand. I didn't want to risk the boys waking up to the sound of us fighting again.
"No I am not, and you need to leave. You can see them tomorrow." I put my hand on his arm to try to push him toward the door.
I don't really remember how the next part played out. I just remember that he was yelling at me as I was trying to get him out of the front door. I never saw it coming. With a closed fist he hit me across the right side of my face. Magnum barked as I looked up at him in surprise. All of the pushing and shoving and grabbing that had happened before, he never hit my face. And as I looked up at him, I never saw his raise his other fist.
The pain was so intense, and somehow I was on the floor. Out of nowhere, Magnum was suddenly standing over me. The growls that were coming out of him were nothing I had ever heard before. Matt reached down toward me, possibly to help me off of the floor.... but as his hand went down toward my crumpled body, Magnum latched on to his forearm with his teeth. He kept shaking his head with Matt's arm in his mouth, an action I had only seen on police dog documentaries. He tore through the fabric of Matt's shirt, and I really don't know how bad the bite tore his skin. Matt finally broke free from Magnum's grip and ran out of the house.
I just laid there, crying. Magnum laid down next to me and licked the tears coming from my eyes. I couldn't believe what just happened. I heard Matt's truck leave my driveway, and I know I should have called the police, but I just couldn't move. I don't know how long I was on the floor... but Magnum never left my side.
Magnum was the kindest, gentlest dog I had ever known. Prior to that night, I always questioned what would happen if we really needed him to protect us. I had visions of him running up to an intruder, wagging his tail and expecting a treat. After that night, though, I knew he would protect me and the boys with his own life. I felt comfort in that. And there was never any more incidents between Matt and myself after that night. Suddenly the "dumb ass dog" (as Matt used to call him) had the upper hand.
That night gave me strength as well. I no longer felt alone. There were many days before that night that I wondered if I was making the right decision.... wondered if I was ready for the struggle as a single mom. Magnum gave me strength that night. And I knew that he wouldn't let anything happen to me. Magnum was my dog. My protector.