Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Dog Named Pluto

Pluto is not a real dog.  He is what you call a cartoon dog.  But he was named after a real planet.  Okay, well, it was a real planet back when Pluto got named after it.  But now it isn't a real planet anymore.  It's just a dwarf planet and it's part of something called the Kuiper belt.  And the way that Pluto the dwarf planet got its name was from the god of the underworld, who was called Pluto by the ancient Romans.

Whew!  That's a complicated way to get your name if you are just a cartoon dog.  Anyway, on August 18, 1930, Pluto got to be in his first Disney cartoon, which was called The Chain Gang.  At that time, he was just a bloodhound without any name at all.  Then on October 23 of that same year, he was in a film called The Picnic, and he played the part of Minnie Mouse's dog, Rover.

But even before this, Pluto the planet was discovered, and it got its name on March 24, 1930.  Of course, like I mentioned before, we now know that Pluto is not a real planet, but only a dwarf planet.  I'm just trying to explain how all these Plutos came along at the same time.

So on May 8, 1931, the Disney people made a cartoon named The Moose Hunt, and it had "Pluto the Pup" in it.  This was the same dog that had already shown up as the nameless bloodhound and then as Rover.  But the animators thought the name "Rover" was too common, so they changed the name to Pluto.  They said this had nothing to do with the planet named Pluto, and maybe they are right about this, or maybe they are lying.  It was way before I was born, so I do not know the real truth about it.

Anyway, Pluto became a very important and popular character in the Disney world.  He was in a lot of cartoons as Mickey Mouse's dog, but he also got to have a starring role in 48 short films during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.  He is the fifth most popular Disney character of all time, after Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy.  And he was awarded the #1 prize in The 100 Greatest Animated Pets of All Time.

Pluto is an important figure in cartoon history because he was designed so that he looked rounder and not as flat as earlier cartoon characters.  Also he was one of the first characters to show what he was thinking just by the way he was animated.

Like a real dog, Pluto does not talk or wear clothes or act like a human.  Goofy does stuff like this, but Pluto doesn't.  Pluto is just a dog.  But he is a very smart and creative dog who can communicate by using facial expressions, barks, whimpers, mumbles, and sign language.

Fifi the Peke was Pluto's first girlfriend.  Fifi was Minnie Mouse's dog.  She and Pluto had a litter of five puppies.  All of these puppies found homes someplace, except one who stayed with Mickey and was named Pluto Junior.  Fifi and Mickey got along okay except if Minnie Mouse was also there, and then Fifi didn't like Mickey much.  I think this is a clear example of resource guarding, which a lot of dogs do, especially with their owners.

A later love interest for Pluto was Dinah the Dachshund.  I couldn't find a whole lot of information about her, except for the fact that sometimes she also dates Butch the Bulldog.

Anyway, Pluto is still a very popular figure, and you can buy all sorts of products that have Pluto pictures on them.  Also you can go to Disneyland or Disney World and have your picture taken with Pluto himself, which would be lots of fun, if you ask me.


  1. Very interesting; and I had forgotten about Daisy, the Dachshund! I think it would be neat to go to Disneyland or Disney World...but I don't see that happening anytime soon. Hey - one of my favorite balloons on Thanksgiving Day when the Macy's parade is shown on TV is "Pluto" - I hope he's in this year's parade. :) Thanks for today's blog and I also wrote on yesterday's blog just a few minutes ago.
    Love, AP

  2. Dear Aunt Patty,
    My mom has been to Disneyland twice and to Disney World once. But she did that before I was ever born. I hope that the next time she goes to one of those places, she will take me so that I can meet Pluto in person.
    Love, Piper

  3. Pluto IS still a real planet; it is both a planet and a Kuiper Belt Object. In spite of the controversial IAU vote, dwarf planets are a subclass of planets. Only four percent of the IAU voted on the controversial demotion, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. One reason the IAU definition makes no sense is it says dwarf planets are not planets at all! That is like saying a grizzly bear is not a bear, and it is inconsistent with the use of the term “dwarf” in astronomy, where dwarf stars are still stars, and dwarf galaxies are still galaxies. Also, the IAU definition classifies objects solely by where they are while ignoring what they are. If Earth were in Pluto’s orbit, according to the IAU definition, it would not be a planet either. A definition that takes the same object and makes it a planet in one location and not a planet in another is essentially useless. Pluto is a planet because it is spherical, meaning it is large enough to be pulled into a round shape by its own gravity--a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium and characteristic of planets, not of shapeless asteroids held together by chemical bonds. These reasons are why many astronomers, lay people, and educators are either ignoring the demotion entirely or working to get it overturned.

  4. Laurel, thank you for continuing the good fight for planet Pluto. Did you know that your post also appears--very nearly verbatim--at the beginning of Raven Kaldera's "Pagan Astrology" as the "Author's Note Regarding Planet Pluto"?