The Story of How Trouble Became an American Dog

comfort toys for kids, Made in America | 1 comment

Sheila Duncan

Sheila Duncan

February 28, 2023

Trouble the Dog was the inspiration of my then 12-year-old niece Kendra Duncan in 2006.  After many family cancer losses, Kendra wanted to help other kids going through tough times. Kendra wanted to provide comfort and hope in the form of a little stray, grey therapy Dog she promptly named Trouble.   And that’s exactly what’s happening today.

Thanks to an introduction by Jack Schylling of Shylling Toys, Trouble the Dog was initially made overseas. 

I can’t say enough about Mr. Schylling as he was of tremendous help to me at the very beginning of our journey.

At first, the workmanship of Trouble the Dog was great, and the representative was wonderful to work with.  As time went by. it became more and more difficult to get Trouble the Dog manufactured as we required.

In light of this situation, I questioned why we couldn’t have Trouble the plush comfort Dog made right here in America. How hard could it possibly be?

After six months of phone calls, and visits to factories in MA and RI it became obvious that this was a challenge.  And I was up for that challenge to make sure Trouble the therapy Dog could be made in the USA.

I was told “you can’t afford to have us make your stuffed animal” … “no, don’t bother to send me a sample” … “yes, I have the facility but it’s not possible”.

Then a wonderful telephone meeting took place with Kyle Barrett, owner of the American Bear Factory in Phoenix, AZ.  She said, “let’s figure this out and see how we might be able to save some money”. 

We had a number of great discussions and reworked some of the aspects of Trouble the therapy Dog so he would remain handcrafted and of keepsake quality.  For example, Trouble the Dog’s face is sewn rather than embroidered, slowly and methodically.  His T-tag is now embroidered and so on.

It was so important to retain the quality of Trouble the comfort Dog because Trouble is the best buddy for children for many years.  Also, it is important that Trouble the Dog is carefully manufactured to retain the “look” that makes him especially magical for kids.

Because Trouble is handcrafted, each Trouble Dog might vary ever so slightly … and children if given a choice will always gravitate to their favorite puppy immediately.

The price of Trouble the Dog is naturally higher than a toy you would purchase that was manufactured overseas. 

I believe people are slowly understanding that workers are being paid a fair wage.  Trouble the Dog is a keepsake quality toy that helps your kids feel safe and comforted … you can’t put a price tag on that.

Kids also tell us that Trouble the comfort Dog is magical.  Kids say Trouble the Dog will wag his tail when they hug him.  They also tell us they feel safe whispering all their “troubles” into his soft, grey waiting ear.

Trouble the Dog is a 24/7 comfort Dog … therapy Dog … who is on call for a hug whenever a child (or adult) needs it. 

Trouble the Dog has also inspired kids to want to help other kids since the very beginning … it’s a wonderful aspect of this magical stuffed animal that really can’t be compared to any other toy.    Parents are reiterating their amazement at the impact Trouble the Dog has on their children … comforting them and helping them feel safe expressing their emotions. 


Trouble is handcrafted right here in the USA and each feature of his face is sewn slowly and carefully. Our manufacturer pays fair wages and is available for a call at my convenience to discuss ideas. 

American Bear Factory is a long standing partnership I so value.  They are working with us to make sure our product is true to our brand.  In addition, American Bear Factory will even spend time advising us about shipping options so we can do our best to keep our pricing stable.  They also let us know when the cost of materials will be increasing and so on.

In today’s upside-down world, our pricing has been a challenge.  However, although our pricing should by right be higher, we are unapologetically comfortable with our prices.  Our pricing for our American-made products is fair and reasonable.

We are proud to be able to say Made in the USA for all of our products.

Quite honestly, with the exception of the silver grey material for Trouble the Dog which is necessarily sourced overseas, every other component of not only Trouble the comfort Dog but our books, our Trouble Doghouse, and our bumper stickers are made right here in America.  Trouble the Therapy Dog, who we also call an Angel in Disguise, is cut, sewn, and stuffed in Phoenix, AZ USA.

I believe because Trouble the Dog was originally created by the pure heart of a child who wished to help other kids going through tough times feel comfort and hope, that the essence of that simple wish has been placed into Trouble the Dog.  That’s one of the many reasons why Trouble the comfort Dog is also an Angel in Disguise.

Looking back on this journey, I believe my ignorance about the difficulty of having a product, especially a very distinctive and important stuffed animal, made in America served me well.  If I had known what a long road it would take to accomplish this goal maybe I’d have gone in another direction.

Would Trouble the Dog then be as rare as he is today?  I don’t think so.  I believe Trouble the Dog is a very rare plush therapy pup who stands alone due to his magical powers to enchant and soothe children if you will.

Trouble the Dog comforts kids, he allows them to feel safe in talking about their hopes and dreams and helps them open up and talk about their troubles be they big or small.

Sheila Duncan

Sheila Duncan

1 Comment

  1. Debby Stockdale

    Trouble and his story are precious. I gave one to my Grandson Grayson and he loves it. Thank u Shelia . You have created a miracle for so many children


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