January 4, 2008
Hello Everyone. Wimsey here wishing you a happy houndly 2008. My year got off to a rip snorting start (literally) as I spent quite a bit of the holiday nose to the ground aerating the dirt of Central Park (I know that the Park’s fragile ecosystem would absolutely collapse without me there to fertilize and turn the soil) and meeting greeting and sliming tourists. Although I must say, drool production is very challenging in the dry frigid conditions that we have lately been experiencing. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have to suit up in what appears to be hazmet garments to take a simple walk. I of course am impervious to the frigid conditions and like to take my time as usual on our perambulations --amid the desperate pleading of my humans to hurry things along. However, I never do, as the fact that the human body has temperature control defects not present in the Hound is not really my problem.
Of course here in New York City, the fashion capital of the world, humans take an inordinate amount of pleasure in dressing up their dogs in a variety of warm weather gear (one of my favorites being the big white pit bull who sports a red wool coat with the hood fully deployed. He reminds me of a Little Red Riding Hood who would like to eat the witch. Or maybe a Smurf that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley). And this being New York, a city where everyone has an opinion and no one is afraid to share, the fact that I am not wearing a coat is cause for almost as much disapprobation as my much maligned, politically incorrect testicles. Not one of these fashion critics has given any thought to the practicality of actually wrestling my 125lb frame into one of these items or to the prevention of my ripping it off and using it for shredding practice (perhaps Maria should carry about some choice examples of the fine work I have done on her underwear) or even where one would procure a garment of the requisite size. Now while Maria handles all the “isn’t he cold?s” with a polite “he’s fine, thank you” (mainly because she knows if I weren’t fine she would hear all about it—we hounds being extremely devoted to our own personal comfort) but the ever helpful Elizabeth prefers to launch into an explanation of the heat retention ratios of large mammals (it apparently has something to do with a favorable amount of surface to volume), citing as examples many of the Arctic and Antarctic species and finishing up with the special adaptations of the bloodhound (we are rather well padded, and basically as long as there is scent to follow we are incapable of noticing much of anything-- from the state of the weather to the commands of our humans). I have observed that people seldom bring up the subject twice to her. (“Run! There’s the crazy woman with the bloodhound and the heat retention equations! She might make us do algebra!”) Personally, my strategy is to visit my hero Balto who is also conspicuously coatless.
Anyway, all this preoccupation with frigid conditions is about to change (much to the chagrin of Elizabeth who has been accumulating a wardrobe better suited to polar exploration than to walking me in the park) as we are about to get excessively warm weather. This means there will be even more tourists for me to meet and greet and have my picture taken with. Now that I am officially going to Westminster my humans cannot resist impressing all the tourists with this bit of information (even the ones who don’t speak English and the ones who somehow think I am going to London to advise the Prime Minister; “Wow when we were in New York we met a Hound so smart that he has been summoned to Westminster to teach the English how to dominate the world!”). As we know when people visit New York they expect to meet celebrities, so the flash bulbs pop when I am around. The other thing that I find is that being a show dog is a lot like going to Harvard—people imbue you with all kinds of positive attributes that you don’t necessarily deserve. So when people hear I am a show dog I am suddenly transformed in their eyes into a paragon of obedient well behaved houndly virtue. And the great thing is, that I garner all this admiration without any of the inconvenience of having to be actually obedient or well behaved. Which in my case is just as well.
Of course, all this fame has its dark side (no I have not gotten the neighbor’s dog pregnant nor am I off to rehab either)—in preparation for my appearance at Westminster (the dog show, not the Palace or the Abbey) I am cavaletti’d every evening. Now being cavalleti'd is pretty awful. First off, it means I have to abandon the pace and trot (although if the distance between the poles isn’t exact, I have figured out a way to pace anyway, causing wails of “How can Wimsey pace through the cavalettis. It’s impossible!” Well, not if you are Wimsey). Then to add insult to injury, the string around my neck is tugged and to emphasize what a happy occasion this is, Elizabeth squeals “Wimsey, let’s go” as if something really pleasant is about to happen-- like the sudden materialization of a pile of dirty laundry. Of course the string itself has its advantages because when I decide to pace off and sniff a tree, Elizabeth has to follow, shrieking for help. And when passing dogs appear, my ladies have to fling themselves on top of me to prevent me from pacing over to say “hi”.
And the human obsession with cavalettis doesn’t end when we go home either. Since there are actually only four proper ones that have been borrowed, both Maria and Elizabeth scour their apartments for anything remotely tube shaped that can be used to create some more. Tube shaped objects have suddenly become very exciting to them (you cannot believe how thrilled Elizabeth was when she found large rolls of old Christmas wrapping paper in her closet—it is not for nothing that we hounds subscribe to the belief that humans are somewhat feeble minded; any species that can get that worked up over cardboard tubes cannot really be taken seriously). But these faux cavalettis are kind of exciting to me as well, as I like to chew on them and getting me to trot over them rather than play with them is quite a challenge for a playful, zesty Hound like myself.
Anyway, January, in addition to officially being Cavaletti Month (“It’s January: have you Cavaletti’d Your Hound Today?”) is also the month of both Maria’s and Elizabeth’s birthdays. Now Maria is sensibly staying home and celebrating by taking care of me, but Elizabeth is thinking of sneaking off to Paris for a few days. If so she will undoubtedly require the services of that foremost exponent of French language and culture: Monsieur le Hound.
Learn French the Monsieur le Hound Way!
Monsieur le Hound: Bonjour classe.
Classe: Bonjour Monsieur le Hound
Monsieur le Hound: Avez-vous poopé ce matin?
Classe: Oui Monsieur le Hound, nous avons poope.
Monsieur le Hound: Et ce poop, c’est beau comme un sausage ou mushy comme le soft serve ice cream?
Classe: C’est tres beau, Monsieur le Hound, dur et firme.
Monsieur le Hound: Tres bien. Est-que vous avez fait le peepee sur Le Tour Eiffel.
Classe: Mais oui Monsieur le Hound; nous avons fait le peepee sur tous les monuments de Paris!
Monsieur le Hound: Tres bien. Ecoutez: Lecon 1
Monsieur et son Hound: Vous avez la place pour une personne et un Hound.
Maitre d: Bien sur! Votre Hound est tres beau.
Maitre d’: Voila! Un bifsteak pour votre aimable Hound.
Maitre d: Voila une bouteille de Perrier pour votre Hound magnifique.
Maitre d’: Il est comfortable, votre superb Hound?
Monsieur: Oui, merci.
Maitre d’: Peut-etre votre Hound extraordinaire desire une tarte pour dessert?
Monsieur: Oui. Le Hound aime bien les tartes.
Maitre d: C’est mon plaisir de servir ce Hound merveilleux!
Anyway, I am hoping that Elizabeth does not go flying off somewhere (although it would mean a respite from those dreaded cavalettis).
Well it’s time again for a visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. This week, in honor of M. le Hound we travel to Paris via the eyes of Renoir: Boating on the Seine (1875, Pierre-August Renoir, National Gallery, London). Renoir was one of the original impressionists—those artists who hoped to capture nature on the canvas by painting outdoors with loose brush strokes. In this painting the artist uses the complementary colors of blue and orange to bring out the intensity of both. But this boat appears unbalanced somehow—both figures are skewed to the right See how much better the painting looks and how much more nature is captured with the addition of a large Hound who is also enjoying an outing on the river. Wimsey Boating on the Seine.
OK, I am off to hunt some cavalettis (the only good cavalettis is a dead cavaletti). And if you happen to turn on The Apprentice this week you will see the episode that I participated in—you may catch a brief glimpse of me or even better yet hear me baying in the background (I was considered for the task by the men’s team. But not chosen. Can’t imagine why).
Until next time,
Wimsey, a Hound for all seasons
Friday, January 4, 2008
Posted by Wimsey at 8:43 PM