Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Pluto Story: Panic!

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.
More than once he encountered a floating log in the water. As much as he enjoyed fetching sticks and balls, and hauling large tree limbs on land, a floating branch in the water was one thing he found frightening. More than once he got stuck in the water, frantically trying to get past the log that was between him and the shore.
He also had this reaction to coming down a ladder. Now, you might wonder why a dog would ever need to come down a ladder. Pluto loved to climb ladders, and also to slide down slides. He would entertain himself on our play-set if you would just stand and watch him, climbing clumsily up the ladder and galloping down the slide.  There was a slide on one side of the play-set, and a fort on the other. More than once he followed the kids up the ladder to the fort, and found himself unable to jump or climb down. He would begin to shake and bark in a very frightened voice.
Our solution was to cover the ladder with a tarp long enough for Pluto to attempt to slide down it. Typically, the tarp would go through the space between the rungs of the ladder as soon as he put weight on his paws, but he could stumble down in a fairly controlled fashion this way.  Once, he followed our contractor up a ladder onto the roof of the garage, and the very understanding and heroic contractor carried him down.

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