Three of the most pondered questions in western civilization are:
Why does Mickey, a mouse, own Pluto, a dog?
Why does Goofy wear clothes and talk and Pluto doesn't? They're both dogs.
What's up with Pluto not being a planet any more and what else did I learn that isn't true?
One of the big stories of 1930 was the discovery of a far off planet which someone named Pluto. Pluto was the Roman god of the underworld, the home of the dead. Pluto the planet is cold, dark, distant and forbidding.
That same year Disney introduced a lovable pup who had nothing to do with a far off planet or the home of the dead. But Pluto seemed to be an amusing name for the cute, happy dog.
(Some sources mistakenly say that Pluto was the Greek god of the underworld. That would be “Hades,” a terrible name for a dog.)
Soon Pluto the dog established himself as Mickey Mouse’s dog and best pal. For a while he played a minor role, but in 1934 he won the title role in a cartoon, “Playful Pluto.”
Since then he has starred in 48 Disney cartoon shorts, shown with his own doggie friends like Dinah the Dachshund, Fifi the Peke, and Ronnie the St. Bernard.
Pluto the dog has maintained his popularity through the years and is recognized all over the world. He was awarded the Number 1 position in ‘The 100 Greatest Animated Pets of all Time.’
Pluto the planet hasn’t fared so well. In 2006 the International Astronomical Union demoted it from a planet to a “dwarf planet.”
Some people were upset at the downgrading of the underdog planet, but life went on.
Pluto the planet hasn’t been forgotten though. Even as you are reading this, the nuclear powered New Horizons interplanetary probe is streaking its way through space to study Pluto.
The piano size probe was launched on January 19, 2006 and is expected to reach Pluto by 2015, traveling more than three billion miles to its destination.
If all goes well, in 2015, Pluto the planet will again be popular.
Pluto the dog is expected to still be recognizable by most five year olds in 2015.
Sometimes ordinary dogs become remarkable dogs in the right situation.
Ronnie a 9-year-old Fox Terrier was named Hero Dog of the Year by spcaLA, a rescue organization that gives awards to ordinary companion dogs who do extraordinary things.
Ronnie lives with Janis and Eric Christensen and their two other dogs in Orange County, California.
Normally Ronnie is the shyest of the dogs, but he placed himself between a coyote and Janis when the coyote jumped a fence into the Christensens’ backyard last August.
The coyote bit Ronnie on his shoulder, but Ronnie bit back and chased the coyote out of sight.
According to spcaLA president Madeline Bernstein, his shy personality was part of the reason he was chosen.
“Ronnie's personality was such that you wouldn't think he would spring into action like he did. This shows that treating your pet with love and respect can be returned by an amazing heroic act.”
And in a neighborhood in Wisconsin a wild bear was looking for a snack, but the family dog stood her ground and the bear beat a hasty retreat.
Notice that the bear first tries to figure out if the dog is playmate, threat or lunch.
NOTE TO DOGS: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME UNLESS YOUR HUMANS HAVE YOUR BACK or it could be Bambi vs. Godzilla.
…was ended last week with the Vermont Supreme Court ruling that owners of a dog shot to death can’t claim damages for emotional distress and loss of companionship.
This case goes back to 2003 when Denis and Sarah Scheele and Shadow, their mixed breed dog, were visiting relatives in Vermont.
During the visit Shadow wandered into the yard of neighbor, Lewis Dunstan, 76. He shot an air pellet rifle to scare the dog away, but a one in a million shot entered Shadow’s chest and severed the aorta.
Dunstan has always insisted he was only trying to shoo the dog away and didn’t mean to kill him. He pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, and was given one year probation and 100 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay the Scheeles $4000 to cover veterinarian bills and cremation.
But the Scheeles say that wasn’t enough, equating Shadow to the loss of a child. They wrote on their website: "Shadow was our little boy, our son, our child. We loved him as if he were our own flesh and blood."
In 2006 they filed a court case seeking $6000 for “emotional distress” and loss of the “solace, affection, friendship, and love” that they shared with Shadow.
When they lost the lower court case, they took it to the Vermont Supreme Court where last week they again lost their case.
While we can understand their love for Shadow and their desire to show that a dog is more than property, it would seem that the time to move on might have been seven years ago.
The ever horny lascivious Zeus was trying to seduce Europa, probably because he hadn’t enjoyed her yet. In order to win her favors he gave her the gift of Laelaps, a magical dog who always caught his prey.
In time she passed the dog along to her son King Minos. King Minos had been cursed by his wife to ejaculate spiders and scorpions which would devour the genitals of anyone he slept with. Needless to say, this put a serious crimp in his dalliances.
So when Procris was able to lift the curse, he gave Laelaps to her in gratitude. Her husband, Kephalos, decided to use Laelaps, the dog who always caught his prey, to hunt the Teumesian fox, a fox that could never be caught.
The chase went on until Zeus noticed the contradictory fates involved in this hunting paradox. It was all giving Zeus a big headache and not the kind where his daughter Athena burst out of his head, fully grown and armed with weapons.
It may be that he was annoyed with all this regifting of Laelaps. At any rate Zeus had little patience with anything that didn’t involve sex in some way, so he turned both animals to stone. Then for reasons known only to Zeus, and probably just because he could, he made Laelaps immortal by putting him in the sky to become the constellation Canis Major.
One of the stars in the constellation, Sirius, known as the Dog Star, is the brightest star in the sky. Sirius, meaning “sparkling” is said to be the diamond in the collar of Laelaps.
How does a person become one of the most successful animal trainers in the world of entertainment?
For Bill Berloni it was the old story of being in the right place at the right time with the right attitude.
In the mid 1970’s when he was 19, he was a college student and aspiring actor working as a summer theatre carpenter while waiting to continue studying acting in the fall. Because he was known as an animal lover, he was promised a small acting role in the premiere musical Annie if he could find and train a dog to play Sandy.
Since there was no money to pay for a dog, Berloni went to a shelter where he found a sad looking, mixed breed dog on death row. He paid the $7 shelter fee and turned a death row dog into a Broadway star.
From that time on he abandoned his own acting ambitions and never looked back. For over thirty years he has been training animals for stage, movies and commercials.
After Sandy retired from acting, Berloni kept him as a pet in his Connecticut house where he and his family live with twenty-one dogs, eight working and thirteen retired, three horses, two llamas, a donkey and a pony.
Ever since his first experience finding the sad eyed, unwanted Sandy, he has always worked with shelter or rescue dogs.
One of his most famous dogs is Chico, an eight pound Chihuahua mix who created the role of Bruiser in Legally Blonde, the Musical.
Chico had been turned over to the humane society when his owners discovered that their grandkids had allergies.
Chosen for his fearlessness and his big bark, Chico had an understudy, his own dressing room, a special diet, and an attentive maidbutler handler.
In working with animals for the stage, Berloni trains the actor to function as the dog trainer on stage since he is many feet away in the wings during the performance. To the performing dogs, the cast is their family.
As far as his training philosophy, he tries to put himself into the dog’s position. “What would make this fun for the dog? And then we do that.”
Besides dogs, Berloni has also trained pigs, rats, lambs and cats. Well, he didn't exactly train cats. Cats are independent hunters who pretty much don’t listen to anyone else.
For that reason he says,
“I trick cats. I trick them into thinking that what I want them to do is what they really want to do.”
How do you get publicity if you’re a D list celebrity?
You put on your rattiest clothes and call the paparazzi to alert them that you are a celebrity walking your dog.
This shows that you are a warm hearted animal lover.
And to show you are a good citizen and role model you carry a poop bag and demonstrate the proper usage.
People Pet, which seems to be a canine/feline version of People magazine, has a slide show of celebrities picking up poop on dog walks. To stay informed on what some consider important in the dog world, go here.
Above is Billy Ray Cyrus. I chose him because he is the only one I know. And that was way before I knew who Hannah Montana was.