Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Pluto Story: Little Boys

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.
As dog owners, we were newbies, having never really had a dog of our own before. Neither of us had any idea that Pluto was more rambunctious than a typical puppy, and so we simply dealt with him as best we could until he grew up. Many people say that Vizslas never grow up, but it has been our experience (now that we have had four different individuals) that a kind of ripening occurs between the age of 2 and 3 years.  Pluto settled into his adulthood as we were settling in to our home in Seattle.
Even as an adult, it took about 45 minutes of solid ball-throwing (with a Chuck-It) to get Pluto slightly tired. It was up to us to pay attention to the condition of his feet, for he was willing to run on pavement until his feet were bleeding.   Once, I was throwing a ball for him in the heavily wooded park in my neighborhood, and he hit a huge tree running full speed. He hit it so hard the moss stained his red-brown hair green. It would not wash off either.
Powerful and tireless, Pluto probably sounds like he would be an inappropriate choice for a family with small boys. What our experience was, though, that he was more than willing to wear costumes, endure ear and eye inspections, hide in forts, and submit to being sat on or rolled on. When our toddler middle son was starting to eat solid food, he rapidly moved on to feeding himself, and regularly shared with Pluto.  I have a vivid memory of Max in his high chair, plunging his tiny spoon-clenched fist into a bowl of strained peas, raising it to his face and sucking it off, and then extending his arm to Pluto, for cleaning. 
If Max and his brothers say they were raised in part by Vizslas, it would be true.

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