Pluto never understood the concept of bird watching. When he was young, we started taking him on our weekend treks in the hills in Madhya Pradesh. He thought running about the deciduous forests was the best thing in the world till he discovered his first lake. We were watching a flock of Brahmini Ducks (also known as the Ruddy Shelduck) when he suddenly raced to the water’s edge and jumped in. At this moment, to his surprise (and ours), he discovered his ability to swim. I was extremely relieved when he started splashing about since I had been preparing to jump in and rescue him. However, this effectively put an end to our birdwatching trip. Realising that the ducks were now within his reach, he dived underwater and emerged in the centre of the flock like a long-eared Loch Ness monster. Very soon, the ducks were gone.
Bird watching at Nalsarovar (a bird sanctuary near Ahmedabad in Gujarat) was even more exciting. There was an island there and Pluto thought boats were even more fun than cars. If he felt thirsty, he could bend down and get a drink; if he wanted a snack, there were plenty of dragonflies on the surface of the water.
He also made friends with the boatmen who made lotus garlands for him to wear. What they did not know is that he ate them later.
What he loved most though, was getting into the car all wet and muddy and then sitting on top of me. There was always plenty of space in the car and he could never fit more than a quarter of himself on my lap but, he never failed to take revenge for the innumerable baths I gave him. I remember my dad rewarding him with an ice cream for this once.
As far as opportunism is concerned, I learned from the best. Pluto never left any wayside scents or trails unexplored, nor any lake unswum. He even jumped into the harbour at the Indus Valley City of Lothal (in Gujarat) after spending an afternoon exploring the ruins with us. He loved to travel. He was not the most easy to handle travelling companion. His over-enthusiastic excitable nature gave me occasional nightmares but, it ensured that not a single moment was boring. I know for certain that he would have attacked the donkeys in Petra and the raft in Rishikesh. Now thats a fun friend to travel with.