Friday, September 26, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 86
September 26, 2008

Hello Everyone! It’s me, Wimsey, trying to stay dry here on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where we are having some seriously wet weather. And whereas some degree of moisture is helpful in enhancing the delectable smell of rotting leaves and rodentian goings on, there can be too much of a good thing. Of course the rain also enhances my already formidable fragrance which is some consolation, at least for me. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have other views on the matter and are forever in search of newer and better products to mask my fine houndly aroma with which their apartments are permanently imbued. Last week Elizabeth trotted over to Laytners Linens on Broadway and installed a reed dispenser filled with golden orchid scent as she felt that her houseguest from the UK would prefer the scent of orchids to the scent of Hound. In the end the visitor was able to enjoy both these fine fragrances as they became intertwined in a festive mélange (although it was unclear whether the resulting smell was golden orchids with undertones of Wimsey or Wimsey with distinctive notes of golden orchid).

But Elizabeth need not have worried—the visitor from the UK, having had Beagles herself, was well familiar with the many attributes of the Hound-- which is why she now has a Golden Retriever. Not that I have anything against Golden Retrievers but I do get tired of these better behaved breeds being held up to us Hounds as paragons of canine virtue. Where humans see obedience Hounds see a lack of independence. Where humans see an eagerness to please Hounds see a perfidious lack of character. And where humans see a loving nature the Hound sees a suspiciously needy personality. But the reality is that humans (especially in psychotherapy obsessed New York) spend inordinate amounts of time and money on the analyst’s couch hoping to become more like Hounds (assertive, direct, independent, confident, determined, entitled and oozing self esteem) and less like Golden Retrievers (needy, dependent, easily influenced by the opinions of others, ingratiating and tractable). In fact, I believe that the Hound can play an invaluable role in the therapeutic process:

Hound Assisted Psychotherapy (HAPY)

Therapist: Please lie down on the couch.

Patient: There seems to be a large Hound already there.

Therapist: And how does this large Hound make you feel?

Patient: Like there is no room on the couch.

Therapist: And what do you propose to do then?

Patient: Sorry, I didn’t hear you—he’s snoring.

Therapist: And what do propose to do about the large snoring Hound on the couch?

Patient: Well I suppose I could just stand and talk louder.

Therapist: And how would that make you feel?

Patient: Like finding another therapist.

Therapist: Yes, I can understand those feelings. And of course if you left I would have more time to spend with my Hound, which would give me a great deal of pleasure. But how would that make you feel.

Patient: Like I had just spent $200 for a five minute conversation about a giant snoring Hound.

Therapist: But does the giant snoring Hound remind you of anything?

Patient: Well he does remind me a bit of my domineering mother (especially some of the wrinkly bits) and of course of all the kids in my class who used to bully me. And of my teachers. And of my boss. And of my ex-wife. And of my annoying neighbor. And of the waiters who coerce you into spending $10 for a bottle of water when you really wanted tap.

Therapist: Transference is the cornerstone of the analytic process! And how did you deal with all these people?

Patient: Pretty much like I am dealing with the giant snoring Hound.

Therapist: You see in life you are either the giant snoring Hound-- thoroughly entitled, confidently claiming your space-- or the sniveling, ineffectual analytic patient standing next to the couch and talking louder. Which would you rather be?

Patient: The Hound!

Therapist: Exactly. Now feed him a piece of liver and perhaps next week he will allow you to perch on the arm.

I might add that neither of my humans feels it necessary to have a therapist—they have me! They just ask themselves “What would Wimsey do” and it is surprising how easily life’s little annoyances disappear (of course some people do object to being shoved off of their seats on the subway). So I say to humans, if you admire Golden Retrievers so much, try living like one and see where that gets you.

But I digress. We were discussing the visit of Elizabeth’s English friend. Now after several days of massive bouts of tea drinking, clothes shopping and cocktail swilling-- occasionally interrupted by some sightseeing-- Elizabeth proposed to her friend that they accompany me on a lovely walk around Central Park. Now it has been a while since I last saw the English friend, but a Hound never forgets a scent, especially of a hound loving pushover. So when I saw her I immediately produced an impressive array of greeting bays—I must say I have been in fine voice lately—which impressed her immeasurably. She kept petting me to make me stop. Who amongst us can resist the flattering vocal attentions of a handsome Hound such as myself; I am the Rudolph Valentino of Hounds (except for the silent part of course). The friend was captivated! So much so that she wanted to immediately empty her newly purchased bottle of water to give me the bottle to play with (“But listen to him-- he wants it!”--my bottle begging bays having even more auditory gusto than my greeting bays). She did observe, however, that I seemed somewhat less well behaved (who me?) than on our former walks. I was probably sick last time she was here. Or perhaps it was just that I was a mere stripling of a pup at 118 lbs instead of at my current commanding mass of 128lbs. Anyway, I think it was when I noticed a bit of slack in my 20 foot leash and took off at a dead run for a particularly odoriferous bush with Elizabeth running as fast as she could to keep up that might have prompted her observation.

But as far as badly behaved dogs went, her Beagles could certainly have given even me a run for the money. In addition to relentlessly raiding rubbish bins, climbing into the dishwasher, snatching sandwiches out of people’s hands, counter surfing, and consuming everything from lemons to various pieces of electronic equipment (“The breed book did say that The Beagle has a hearty appetite”) they were formidable Hounds even on outdoor outings. There was the time for instance that William, the chief Beagle, having been let loose in a field, noticed a paucity of appropriately vertical surfaces upon which to relieve himself. So he did the only thing a Hound could—he ran up to a stranger’s leg and availed himself of the facilities-- leaving a profusely apologetic Elizabeth trailing in his wake. There is nothing in Emily Post to cover such a situation. Fortunately being an American helped—the stranger seemed convinced that this was just another barbaric aberration common in the colonies.

Then there was the time that a large group of enormous cows blocked William and Elizabeth’s path, imprisoning them in a field. Now William was an inveterate cow chaser (unlike his younger brother Henry who was much more of a bird man himself) and even though he was being held tightly on a leash next to Elizabeth’s leg, the cows seem to sense that they were in the presence of a canine who was potentially up to no good. Elizabeth observed that the herd of cows appeared to be surprisingly assertive and seemed to be led by this one particularly aggressive cow (probably because it was a bull) and every time she tried to head for the stile that led out of the field the cows charged over to block her way. With visions of Pamplona racing in her head, Elizabeth tossed poor William into the Thames-- which fortunately bordered the field-- and waded around the blocked stile whilst the indignant William swam at her side. And trust me nothing is quite as unpleasant as an involuntarily soaked Hound, particularly one who has just been deprived of the opportunity to wreak havoc amongst a herd of cows. I can so relate. Well to this day Elizabeth claims that she dresses like a farmer on the off chance that she might be forced to wade into the Thames to escape a herd of angry cattle. (“You never know when raggedy clothes and Wellington boots will come in handy.”)

The thing is that we Hounds look so good on paper. Breed books wax poetic about our fine attributes and it is not until one has acquired a Hound that one realizes the true meaning behind the accolades. In addition to mentioning that Beagle has a hearty appetite the breed book used by Elizabeth’s friend also mentioned that the Beagle will exercise itself in its yard. Of course the fact that this exercise takes the form of digging out of the yard in order to raid the neighborhood trash bins is nowhere specified.

Anyway, as far as the English visitor goes, every cloud has a silver lining (and for Hounds, life is pretty much all about stealing the silver linings) so although I was deprived of Elizabeth’s services for a few days I received due compensation in the form of extra adulation and a left over piece of steak au poivre. In addition, the English visitor insisted on buying and feeding me my favorite snack—Grom gelato and you can see me being Grommed on the video below.

Well, it is once again time for our weekly visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houdish Art and in this week’s visit we continue our election season theme of Great Moments in American History. Last week we saw how one of my colonial ancestors, the martial genius, Nimrod Wimsey assisted in winning the Battle of Saratoga and today we jump ahead to 1781 and the surrender of General Cornwallis as immortalized by John Trumbull: The Surrender of Cornwallis (John Trumbull, 1820, Capitol Rotunda, Washington DC). Now in 1781 things weren’t actually going all that well for the colonies—the Brits were by no means beaten and occupied considerable territory, including New York City. To make matters worse General Cornwallis was rampaging about in the south and had captured Charleston and Richmond. It was then that General Washington and the French Admiral, the Comte de Rochambeau, ably assisted by Nimrod Wimsey, put their heads together to come up with a plan. Washington, who had considerable troops in New York, wanted to attack the British there while Rochambeau, who had a fleet waiting off of Chesapeake Bay, wanted to confront the British in Virginia. The impasse was broken by Washington’s trusty Hound, Nimrod, who sided with Admiral Rochambeau (Nimrod’s detractors claim the strategic application of a considerable amount of foie gras played a role in Nimrod’s thinking, but family papers indicate that it was the entrenched position of British forces in New York that actually swayed him—but he did like being addressed as Monsieur le Hound). In any case, the rest as they say is history. Rochambeau’s fleet defeated the British in Chesapeake Bay and blockaded British forces whilst Washington’s newly arrived army, together with the forces of the Marquis de Lafayette, shelled Cornwallis’ armies into submission. And then, in what amounts to one of the greatest sore loser moments in history, Cornwallis claimed to be too ill to surrender to Washington and instead sent his sword via one General O’Hara. Thus in Trumbull’s famous painting we see General O’Hara surrendering to General Benjamin Lincoln as both Rochambeau, and Washington depicted on horseback in front of the French troops (on the left, under the white Bourbon flag) and the American troops (on the right under the colonial colors) respectively were of too high a rank to accept the sword from a subordinate. But although military protocol dictated that Washington could not accept the sword he positioned his Hound Nimrod, in his dress uniform, next to general Lincoln as his personal representative.

Well it has been an eventful week here in Houndville and I feel a nap coming on (when do I not?)

Until next time,

Wimsey, Conqueror of the British, both ancient and modern


Biggie-Z said...

Wimsey! Look at those drool slingers getting longer and longer! I am in awe!


p.s. I think you are better behaved than your humans let on - you are sitting with your back to a big carriage horse in the background in one of those pictures! I hate those things!

Bentley said...

Wow, that gelato looks tasty! If my mom and dad ever go to New York and take me along, I'd like to try that too. (but, I'd be terrified of all that noisy honking and stuff going on)

I think Biggie is right, you're a brave hound!

Edie and Gus said...

Greetings from the Far North, Wimsey!

I am glad to hear that you are sharing your houndly aroma with all. Nothing like a wet hound on a bed or couch, I always say!

Those beagle types are indeed interesting hounds. Edie's sister had a beagle, Abe. Abe was so proficient at opening the refrigerator on his own that it had to be permanently velcroed shut. What a shame to put limits on such houndly mischief!

Winter is upon us up here in Fairbanks, Alaska. The snow is falling at a furious rate, and the temperatures are falling rapidly. Edie (very grumpy) is digging out winter gear, most especially the Super Traction You-Can't-Pull-Me-Off-My-Feet Boots, which she will wear until near June when the snow is gone. And of course, she will spend plenty of time on the ground, as no boot can defeat a hound. She often relates to me that she is very lucky that I don't have your prodigious weight on my frame. Yet.

Here's to rain, snow and the heavenly scent of bloodhound,

Gus, Great Bloodhound of the North

Eurodog said...

Why? Oh why does poor doggie have to wear such an awful collar? Poor dog!