Pluto story #4 was supposed to cover all of the most disgusting things Pluto did. I realize in retrospect that there were many other disgusting things he did, and I share some more of them here.
I had cats and other pets growing up, but never a dog. In 1992 my husband and I were living in the Bay Area, and went to a big dog show at the Cow Palace. Walking around with our son in a baby-backpack, we saw a lot of breeds we had never even heard of before, including a Hungarian breed, the Vizsla. My husband was born in Hungary, and escaped from the communist regime in Hungary with his family when he was a small child. The privilege of owning a real Hungarian dog was meaningful to him, and the more we learned about Vizslas the more interested we became.
After the second World War, because of their associations with wealthy landowners, the breed was almost completely wiped out by the communists in Hungary. The story I read said that eleven purebred Vizslas were rescued by a Canadian breeder who smuggled them out of Hungary in the early 1950s to reestablished the breed abroad. Today the AKC standard says that the dog should be “A natural hunter endowed with a good nose and above-average ability to take training. Lively, gentle-mannered, demonstrably affectionate and sensitive though fearless with a well-developed protective instinct. Shyness, timidity or nervousness should be penalized.” I believe that this means those who make the best Vizslas do so by trying to meet this standard. I have not met Vizslas “bred for hunting” with the same outgoing, positive nature as those “bred for show.”
Now you might think that a strong and energetic dog like Pluto would be way too much for a family with small children. In many ways, you would be right in thinking it. When he was a puppy, Pluto was so hard to control or contain, he was sometimes tied by his leash to the leg of the sofa when he was indoors. Even then, he was strong enough to move the couch across the floor if anything interesting happened.
Pluto soon learned how to swim without splashing, and how to fetch objects from the water. He often would bound into bodies of water without waiting for anyone to give him permission or throw him a ball. He never had the chance to experience water that was anything more that really cold, living in the Pacific Northwest, but it never seemed to bother him. He swam in the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon Coast, emerging bright red, covered in sand and shivering, every hair on his body standing on end. He swam in glacial lakes at the top of hiking trails when we’d stop for lunch. He swam in the Puget Sound in winter.
Pluto was an extremely energetic dog, and required a lot of exercise. He was passionate about fetching a ball (or any other dog’s ball), and about swimming. Not long after we moved to Seattle, we took him to a dog park for the first time. Pluto ran and leaped and barked. We threw the ball for him for a while, but found he was easily distracted with so many people and dogs to meet.