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 an upset wolverine and a flatulent, shoe-eating 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.
Trouble loves car rides. I understand that people who are dog-less think they understand love … just perhaps not at this level. This love is the bouncing-up-and-down, whining, running circles around the house yipping with the leash in the mouth until the door finally opens kind of love. Taking Trouble for a car ride combines the unbridled exuberance of a 5-year-old going to Chuck E. Cheese’s with full-contact sumo wrestling. Getting to the car usually isn’t a problem; it’s once I open the car door that the frenzied dog-itsu commences.
First of all, Trouble thinks he can drive (maybe in a past life he was a New York City cabbie) because, regardless of the door I open, he somehow races to the driver’s seat. Now I have to open the driver’s side door without letting him out while simultaneously getting myself in. Of course he won’t budge, so it’s akin to pushing a hairy, smelly, slobbering 100-pound walrus out of the front seat. It’s an epic battle for vehicular dominance. Being a fully mature Arlington adult, I inevitably resort to what mature men have done since the dawn of man when presented with someone else sitting in their driver’s seat: I yell. Loudly. “Noooo! Trouble, you can’t drive. Get out of there.”
Of course he doesn’t listen.
At this point, my neighbors are looking out of their houses, shaking their heads and sighing as they draw their drapes. So, as I slowly slide in next to him, I start getting medieval—fingers in his ears, blowing on his face. I even resort to baby talk. Finally, with a look of what must be doggy disdain, he moves. I know it’s the baby talk that finally gets to him.
But Trouble doesn’t accept defeat easily; he just avoids direct confrontation. He has to sit in every seat. Three times. So before I can start the car, I have to tie him up in the seatbelt so he doesn’t obstruct my view. To show his contempt he’ll start chewing on the seatbelt, or pressing his dirty nose against the windows, or trying to stick his head out of the window. If it’s just Trouble and me, then it’s a fair fight. But one time I got Trouble and my (then) infant in the car at the same time. Because I was loading something in the trunk and trying to ensure Trouble didn’t eat the soon-to-be crying baby, I handed the keys to the baby to entertain her—not smart, I now know—and Trouble stepped on the door lock button. NO! I was forced to crawl into the trunk and through the center console hole-thing to unlock the doors as, literally, all of Harris Teeter looked on. And, yes, Trouble was back in the driver’s seat.
I kind of wish he could drive me around; it’d just be easier. Needless to say, Trouble doesn’t get many car rides anymore.—Clayton Dean