Friday, December 14, 2007

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 45
December 14, 2007

Hello everyone. Wimsey here, reporting from the ice encrusted precincts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Well, this has been quite an exciting week. I managed to inflict a pulled hamstring on my human Maria--- an injury for which I claim extra points since I was wearing my Halti at the time—and so have been temporarily exiled to her friend Elizabeth (although she returns me to my apartment each afternoon in time for my run with my Running Paws runner, Roy --or “Braveheart” as my humans like to think of him). Now for those of you who have read my Diary, you will be aware that Roy leaves my human a polite, post-run note each afternoon, usually concerning my toilet activities. But he occasionally inserts cryptic remarks about my deportment (“Wimsey was very playful today, etc.”), causing my humans’ imagination to run wild. Well this week, Roy, ever the gentleman, and not wanting to cause my ladies any more distress than they already suffer by having to deal with me, posted a blog comment discussing what really happens on our runs. So in the time honored spirit of full disclosure, I have reproduced Roy’s comments below as they are really too good to miss and will give you some idea of how much fun we have together every afternoon:

Notes Roy never left but might have:

"Today Wimsey almost killed me going down the stairs." (This would be a recurring note, actually).

"Today Wimsey decided to poop in/on/through the railing around a tree. I think he was challenging me."

"Wimsey tried to drag me into oncoming traffic today. On purpose?"

"Today Wimsey pooped a poop bigger than my head."

"Wimsey and Luie decided to have a race back home from the park, and we almost killed one old man, two nice ladies taking a walk, a Boston Terrier, and three policmen. ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOURRR LEFT!!!"

"Today I tried to take Wimsey's stick from him and he jumped on me, howling like a demon. I saw my life--and a mouthfull of enormous white teeth--flash before my eyes. Although his bark is bigger than his bite, his bark was so freakin' huge I didn't want to push it."

"Wimsey was in the mood for sprints today: he'd run full speed for fifty feet, then jerk me to a dead stop so he could sniff some pee for five minutes, then bolt off another fifty feet, then jerk to a stop... and so on, all the way through the park."

"I think Wimsey accidentally inhaled a chihuahua."

"Wimsey is the best dog in the world, and while it's true that he's slobbery, bossy, stubborn, and stinky, it's also true that he's handsome, proud, awesome and loads of fun. Nothing beats running full tilt through a gaggle of Japanese tourists behind 120 pounds of jowl-flapping bloodhound."



But however vivid Roy’s descriptive powers are (and I do really appreciate his making note of my pooping prowess—I am quite proud of this—just when you think no more can come out of me, more does (!), causing squeals of delight amongst my raptly attentive audience. (I wonder if this would qualify me for David Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks?)-- he did omit two of the most important Wimsey maneuvers: the “fallover” (not be confused by you behaviorists out there with a stand over, although I like to do that to, but only to people, as I am very polite with other dogs) and the “clean and jerk.” In the fallover I am traveling swiftly (is there any other way for a purposeful Hound such as myself to travel?) directly ahead of my human adhering to a very straight trajectory. Then suddenly and with no warning, I execute a quick 90 degree pivot turn (ostensibly in order to sniff something, but really for the fun of it) placing my large body directly in the path of the oncoming human. This causes them to “fallover” me. (BTW: The fallover is an excellent application of Newton’s first law—“A body when in motion tends to stay in motion except when impeded by a large Hound”).

It’s pretty hilarious I can tell you—they never even see it coming. Now the clean and jerk is an entirely different type of maneuver and requires speed, agility and a finely honed sense of timing. In this, I am once again traveling swiftly forward, although careful not to get too far ahead ( this would ruin the surprise), then I execute a lightening fast 180 degree spin and run swiftly backwards (again, in an apparent effort to sniff something that I had inadvertently passed up), cleanly jerking the human arm in a distinctly non-physiological direction. Such squealing that ensues would put a squeaky toy to shame! Frankly I have always thought that my gifts should be the basis of a new reality show:

“The Amazing Race”: twelve teams of two race their Hounds around Central Park. The teams with the most amount of injuries are eliminated from the Race.

Anyway, as you can imagine Elizabeth has been quite thrilled to have me around this week because I am such an excellent and thoughtful houseguest (although I did catch her reading up on “how to heal a hamstring injury”). I am sure she has noticed a big improvement in her mental health this week since whenever she wants to read those depressing newspapers I sit on her and make her scratch me instead. A much healthier choice, I think (although the word choice might be a misnomer). And speaking of healthy choices, I carefully supervise Elizabeth’s meals when I am in residence, sniffing and inspecting each ingredient that she employs for freshness and wholesomeness. Those ingredients found wanting, I generously consume myself.

Then of course there are all the benefits of the late night fresh air that I cause her to experience in the execution of my bedtime constitutional. These can be extensive as the search for the perfect real estate upon which to poop is not a choice I make lightly or hastily (rather like a buying a co-op here in New York). I take a long term, judicious approach to the process, so we can be out and about for quite some time.

When the bedtime constitutional has at long last been completed it is then time for Elizabeth to get a little extra exercise by competing in one of my favorite events: “Wimsey Bed Wrestling.” I employ the traditional opening gambit—sleeping the wide way across the pillows. By the time the day ends, Elizabeth is more than ready for some (wholly excessive) sleep, so to counteract her somnolent tendencies, I have taken up snoring (for which I appear to have a natural talent—I think it is all my extra folds and wrinkles, which I am told imparts a motorcycle-like tone to my efforts). I have also perfected the art of the deafening 3am drink of water. Who would have thought that a simple bowl of water and a long hound tongue could produce such auditory delights! (the acoustics in Elizabeth’s apartment are excellent) And following this, I find it essential to show off the amount water I can carry on my muzzle by shoving it into Elizabeth’s sleeping face for inspection. This provides excellent nighttime hydration for the skin so I can’t imagine why she is thinking about building a tree house in her apartment. Anyway, come morning, I hydrate her face again and then, just in case she hasn’t notice that I am around, climb into bed with her. And added to the fun, I am taking antibiotics (nothing serious just a pesky anal gland problem), which must be taken with food and since I am a finicky eater this means she has to get up and fix me a cooked breakfast! I love being me.

But anyway, things are quite festive here in New York as Christmas approaches—the decorations for me to play with are up, tourists are everywhere taking pictures of me and humans are shopping for my gifts. I am a very big fan off Christmas-- although my humans might be less so as they have to be vigilant about preventing me from watering the Christmas trees that are being sold on the streets-- Christmas with a New York City Hound does present some unique challenges. And I enjoy hearing the Christmas story told again, although I have always found it to be somewhat incomplete:

Wimsey’s Christmas Story

Hound #1: I smell something.
Hound #2: Me too. It seems to be coming from the direction of that large star over there.
Hound #3: Let’s follow our noses (and that star thing)!

Hound #1: Look over there! There seems to be a lot of activity in that stable.
Hound #2 If anything important is happening we Hounds should be present.
Hound # 3: Let’s pace over.

Hound #1: It’s a beautiful woman and her newborn baby.
Hound #2: He smells heavenly!
Hound #3: Hmm.. I detect many fragrant animals (I love stables). Also there seem to be three richly caparisoned men bestowing gifts.

Hound #1: We too can bestow high value gifts! Here is a rawhide.
Hound #2: And please accept this stuffed squeaky hedgehog.
Hound #3: Here is a Greenie for you.

Shepherd #1: Do you hear what I hear? It is a heavenly sound!
Shepherd #2: Is it a chorus of angels, do you think?
Shepherd # 3: No. I think it is those Hounds.

I make Maria tell me this story every year as I tear open her presents. Anyway all this talk of miraculous creation reminds me that it is once again time for a visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Today we have an iconic piece of American art to discuss:

Arrangement in Gray and Black: The Artist’s Mother (aka: Whistler’s Mother): (James McNeil Whistler, 1871, Musee d’Orsay, Paris). Now this is perhaps one of the most famous and recognizable of all American paintings, although Whistler, who mostly hung out in Paris with his luminary buddies Manet and Degas, painted this while he was in London. Whistler had to add “the Artist’s Mother” bit to his original title because Victorians were outraged at a the concept (however artistically motivated) of reducing one’s mother to an “arrangement.” (modern mothers would of course be happy to be noticed, let alone painted, by their adult offspring in any context, but the Victorians were a sentimental lot). Anyway, Whistler was born in Massachusetts but liked to pretend to be an aristocratic Southern military man (the pre-Google dark ages) on the strength of the fact that he was kicked out of out of West Point for failure to pass chemistry (that should make a lot of folks feel better). Anyway, while Whistler was swanning about Paris reinventing himself, the great Marcel Proust (a Wimsey favorite and role model—see post # 14) was reinventing him too, as the painter Elstir in Remembrance of Things Past. There are two famous stories about this painting: one that Whistler’s mother only posed because a model canceled and two, that she is sitting down because she found standing too difficult. And so even great masterpieces, like great Hounds, are frequently the products of serendipity. But however great the masterpiece, it is still very unclear what Whistler’s mother is looking at (and perhaps listening to) with such intensity. This problem is easily corrected. Arrangement in Gray, Black and Tan: The Artist’s Mother (and musical Hound).

(PS: I though about titling this Wimsey’s Mother, but I fear Maria would be sorely displeased—although I must say, she does wear black quite a bit).

Anyway, until next time,

Wimsey, puller of hamstrings, dislocator of arms and Christmas Animal


Randi said...

Happy Wimsday, Wimsey!

You always make me smile...I, too, have developed quite the talent for the clean & jerk...wonderful trick! & the suprise on my peoples faces is priceless! I'd love to get that on film & flash that nasty flashy light in their eyes 1 billion times...

Happy Holidays to you, Wimsey & your peoples!

Love & Licks,

Princess, Tank and Isaac: The Newfs of Hazard said...

Wimsey, how come you're not in the mother's lap? Good work pulling your peeps around. We're having a great time frolicking in the snow! Did you get enough to frolic in?