Kick the Dog

A few weeks ago I shared this story in our church.  In our church this genre has come to be known affectionately as the “Kiley story.”  Kiley is my second born daughter.  God has given her to us to not only make us laugh, but to keep us humble.
My wife has only three requests on Mother’s Day; Kentucky Fried Chicken, a chick flick, and an empty house.  Our firstborn child, Morgan, is the family sweetheart.  Her spiritual gift is serving.  Her gift, coupled with her heart, means that she enjoys doing things for others that make them feel good.  So Morgan added to our annual Mother’s Day ritual one new component, a picnic.
With several boxes of steaming chicken in hand we headed to a local park that Morgan hand picked in honor of her mother.  The setting was pristine; a bridge, a small creek, green grass, and chicken.  Coming straight from church we were still wearing our Baptist threads.  Shannon had on a new dress and was looking beautiful as usual.  Morgan had made a ½ change in the van which left her a bit eclectic; wearing shorts, a nice shirt, and Sunday shoes.  I had on a black suit.  I looked like a preacher eating chicken in the park.  Kiley had on a white dress.  We looked like we were eating chicken on the front of a Hallmark card.
The event was going well until a man pulled up in a pickup truck.  Upon opening his door a rust colored dog bounded down off the bench seat of the cab and bolted for the river – RIGHT AT US, the pristine Hallmark family.  At this point I should add an important detail.  As a child I was traumatized by a wild pack of dogs.  I have recorded this account in a post entitled “Dog Daze.”   I have overcome my fears, but I am not a dog guy.  Shannon was bitten by a dog as a child.  She has dealt with her fear, but she likes to keep a bag and a loaded gun between her and every approaching dog.  Morgan was jumped on by a dog as a toddler.  Her heart ceases to beat when a dog is near.  Fear is not an adequate word to describe what Morgan feels for dogs.  Kiley fears nothing. 
I am the father, the protector of the Branams.  The dog, still sprinting toward us was only encouraged by his master as he threw a ball into the river, again, RIGHT AT US.  The dog went full superman into the water, snatched the ball with his mouth and continued his trek, RIGHT AT US.  I know dogs.  When they are wet, they shake.  Thus my mind offered a prophecy.  If the dog comes up the bank to us, he will shake, ruin our chicken and traumatize my ladies.  As patriarch and protector I turned to my family and offered a private word of assurance and protection.  I told them, and only them, what I would do to the dog if he came near our perfect family picnic. 
After a few times of repeatedly throwing the ball, RIGHT AT US, I think the dude who owned the dog sensed our growing discomfort with the situation.  I should offer this detail.  The Cahaba River in Alabama must be no less than 1,300 miles long.  My Hallmark, Mother’s Day, still in their Sunday best family has claimed only about 8 feet of the 1,300 miles.  Perhaps the man read my glaring eyes or received my telepathic man message, “Dude, I am not appreciating you or your dog.” 
By this time the crowd on the opposite bank was growing.  Dog people cannot get enough of dogs.  And when a dog is chasing a ball into a river dog people equate this with a free ticket to the circus.  They can’t get enough. 
So finally, the dog dude somehow sensing my guard was up sent us a verbal message, “I’m sorry, I will try to move him away from y’all.”  To which our Kiley, in her white dress with a chicken leg in hand, shouted out for everyone on the opposing bank to hear,
“If your dog comes over here my daddy is going to kick your dog in the teeth!”
What was once a private message from the patriarch protector to my family was now a public service announcement broadcast to all of Trussville, AL.  The dog dude simply replied, “Sorry” and moved the dog circus further up the 1,300 mile Cahaba.  I turned my head away from the good people of Trussville, many of which were probably with us for our Easter service.  I cowered like an Ostrich sticking his head into a hole. 
We are trying to give Kiley the spiritual gift of “filter.”  So far it is not working.  When we sent her to bed that night my wife and I laughed until we cried.  That’s our Kiley.


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