I had wanted a dog of my own for as long as I could remember, but my dad had always told me he'd get me one when the time came.
I must have asked and begged for a dog a million times, but it was always the same. "We'll get you a dog when the time comes, Son."
I guess it was the summer when I was about 6 or 7 when Dad came home with a box in the back seat of his car. He told me to go out and get the box, and bring it into the house. After I brought it in, he told me to open it, and inside, I found a little box of puppy chow and a puppy bed. When I looked back at him, he was holding a little puppy that he had brought into the house in his coat pocket.
He gave me the puppy, and I had my new best friend. We were inseparable. He slept in a box, inside his little bed beside my own. Every day I fed him, cleaned up after him, and took care of him. Each evening, while Dad was sitting in his chair reading the paper or watching the news, the pup would go over and chew on his toes, which my dad was a bit less than fond of. Each time he would start toward my Dad's feet, I would try to stop him, telling him "You're going to get in trouble!!" and so he was named. Trouble.
He was a mutt, of course. Half this, a quarter that, and some more of the other thrown in, but he was a great dog. He had some Pekingese or bull dog in him, because he had the crushed up nose, like a pug. But, as most mutts are, he was smart. He was the easiest dog to house break I have ever had. He also learned to sit and beg. The only thing that I could never get him to do was fetch, because he didn't want to run away from me when I threw the ball. He would take out at first, look back to see me standing there, and just come back, assuming he was supposed to stay with me.
When the summer ended, and school was upon us, Dad told me that while I was at school, Trouble would have to stay in the back yard. It's still hot at that time of year here in Texas, so I was to put him out in the morning, make sure he had a full pan of water, and then check his water again in the afternoon when I got home. I was not allowed to bring him in the house until after I had finished any homework that I might have.
After a couple of weeks, I began to forget that afternoon water check, and sometimes I would forget to give Trouble fresh water in the mornings. Dad, always the teacher, would always check behind me, though, and then give me a little sermon of how the dog depended on me to do things for him that he could not do for himself. He said it was the responsibility of a dog's owner to care for his dog, just like the responsibility of a father, to take care his kids.
After a week in which I had forgotten my duties with the water several times, Saturday came, and Dad told me that we had yard work to do. We spent the entire day in the heat, cutting back the trees in front and back yard, mowing the yards trimming hedges. Dad was not a mean man, but even at that age, I was expected to work, and I did. I mowed, I hauled limbs that Dad had cut, and drug them to the street where they would be picked up and hauled away.
After several hours of this, we went into the house to cool off, and Dad asked me if I wanted some water. I told him yes, and he handed me a glass.
I tried to reach the faucet on the kitchen sink to fill up the glass, but could not do so.
"Dad, I can't get it myself. I need your help." I told him.
He walked out of the kitchen, looking back over his shoulder.
"Well, Trouble can't turn that hose out there on, either."
I begrudgingly went back out and filled the dogs pan with fresh water. As I came back into the kitchen through the back door, my dad was nowhere to be seen.
But on the dining table, well within my reach, was a glass of ice water.