My name is Clayton Dean, and I have a problem. A big, horrible, black haired, face-licking problem. I have a dog. Truth be told he’s really more of a cross between a wolverine and a hippopotamus. His name is Trouble. No really. I’ll say that again: His name is Trouble. Over the coming months I’ll introduce you to him and his adventures in this column: the Trouble with Trouble.
Karma truly is a cruel mistress. I had been plotting for weeks with my family friend Dawn to sneakily get a puppy for our family. I should have known better. Dawn is just as crazy for dogs as I am. After all I am, reluctantly, providing food, shelter and love to one additional family pet whereas Dawn voluntarily takes in numerous foster dogs for the pound. So I figured, hey, I’ve seen “Marley & Me,” “Old Yeller” and “Cujo,” what could possibly go wrong with getting a dog? I mean, here I was conspiring without my wife’s knowledge to bring a new puppy into our otherwise serene and beautiful home. Just how badly could this turn out? So the day came when Dawn called us over. She had new fosters including several amazing foxhound/lab puppies, and of course, the kids insisted we take the pudgy one home. It worked. All according to my master plan, I was like a criminal mastermind. But the signs were there. I probably should have known better when we walked into Dawn’s house and heard her husband, Paul, upstairs screaming about something. I probably should have turned around then and there. But I didn’t. And so this was my introduction to the dog we quickly came to know as Trouble.
To be honest we didn’t initially name him Trouble. It was going to be something benign like Rupert. But he really sort of named himself Trouble. It was appropriate, and the name stuck. As it turns out, Dawn’s husband had decided to have the newest foster puppy sleep in bed with him that night. Needless to say, the soft, warm, brown-eyed puppy decided to leave some extra presents in bed. “He sounds like Trouble,” my son Jace said as we came face-to-face with the yipping beast. And just like the Millennium Falcon trying to pull away from the Death Star, we realized too late that we were caught in his tractor beam-like puppy eyes, eyes that foretold of soft face nuzzles, long walks in the park and years of canine loyalty. Sigh! Well, I’m here to tell you that a man couldn’t have been more wrong: Those eyes were the eyes of a demon. Instead of sweet nuzzling, we got crazed, slobbery face baths. The quiet Sunday strolls I envisioned with my trusty companion in the park, perhaps dressed in my Sunday finest, turned into ever-escalating feats of dog karate as Trouble gamely attempted to protect us from all sorts of dangers, including what seemed to be every rock, tree and jogger in Arlington. So if you see a frazzled-looking man out on the trails of Arlington and a dog practicing karate, please just smile and give a wide berth. Because this Trouble story is just beginning … —Clayton Dean