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Say it ain’t so, Pluto (08/27/2006)
By Frances Edstrom

"What are you moping around about?" I asked the dog-who-must-not-be-written-about.

"You don't know?" he asked, as though I should somehow have devined his doggy mind, which I will admit is not very big, but is surrounded by a very thick skull.

"Uh, no. That's why I asked."

‘Well," he said sadly, "one of my all-time favorite heroes is being dragged through the media mud, with absolutely no thought as to how this is affecting his faithful fans!" I searched my memory. I did read that a new Lassie movie is in the works, and that Lassie has been touring the country to promote it. Gee, I wondered, did she get caught doing something naughty on the road? Did she go potty on a potted plant at the Mall of America? No, that would have made the front pages. Snoopy hightailed it out of Minnesota's biggest shopping mecca, held for ransom by his relatives, I heard, but that was a while ago.

Rin Tin Tin has been gone so long no one would remember him, certainly not a six-year-old poodle.

The current K-9s in the area are behaving themselves.

It was Bill Clinton who made the news, not his dog Buddy, and of course everyone's forgotten all that.

"I give up," I said, "Do tell."

"Pluto!" he cried.

"The dog?" I asked.

"Yes, he's been demoted! Now he's got to be a dwarf! Can you imagine such a nice gentle fellow working in a mine! Singing stupid songs? It's an outrage!"

"It's not the dog," I said.

"Now they aren't even calling him a dog anymore!" he said with outrage.

"No, no. It isn't the dog Pluto who's been demoted," I started to explain.

"Well it couldn't possibly be the god Pluto, there's not much farther down to go than being god of the Underworld!" he said.

"It's the planet Pluto. It's not a planet anymore," I said. "The dog is just fine."

"No pickax for Pluto the pup?" he asked, relieved. "I was worried for nothing!"

"That's right," I said, "so go outside and leave me alone."

"Humans are so ridiculous!" he sniped. "How can Pluto be a planet for over 75 years, and then be ushered out of the planetarium like a shoplifter out of the underwear department?"

"Well, Buster Boy, humans, unlike dogs, are on a never-ending search for the truth. We aren't happy to march in ignorant bliss through the centuries, like some other species," I said.

"I'm on a never-ending search," he said, "for some decent food around here. I notice I'm the only one whose food comes in a fifty pound bag!"

Ignoring him, I went on. "Think of the strides we've made in the last century alone! Think of the promise for this century in which we live!"

"And demoting a planet for no good reason is propelling the human race to greatness?" he said.

"Pluto doesn't have the right kind of orbit. The world's best astronomers decided." I said, promising myself I'd have to read a little more about it than the headlines.

"I'll bet those are the same fancy-pants scientists who can't figure out what their own dogs are trying to tell them."

"I don't have any trouble understanding you," I said.

"Duh, that's because I took the trouble to learn English. You still don't know what I'm saying to all the dogs who pass by the house!"

At that moment a neighbor came past walking her dog, and you-know-who raced over to the window and let out a fearsome volley of barking.

"I think it's pretty easy to figure out what you just said," I said. "You're telling them this is your yard and to get out."

"Wrong, wrong, wrong. What I said was that the humans got it all wrong once again, and our hero Pluto is not destined to be one of those silly dwarves. He's still one of the greatest dogs of all time!" 


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