Friday, December 12, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 97
December 12, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you from Holiday Hound Central here on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and wishing you all an (almost) Merry Christmas. The holiday is fast approaching, although I must say that every day is a bit like Christmas for a much admired Hound such as myself. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are constantly on the lookout for new gift items that will meet with Houndly approval (and keep me out of everyone’s hair for a bit—of course they can keep me out of their hair but they can’t keep my hair out of them, no matter how many gifts they heap upon my pointy head). And rather than having snow, yesterday we had an entire day—which means four walks—of soaking rain which sent Maria fleeing to the LLbean Catalog (the Vogue of Hound owners) for a new jacket to prevent the current massive runoff onto her jeans.

Elizabeth weathered the storm better in her long Lands End parka, a new garment in which she has ecstatically discovered 12 pockets (like a fishing vest for the winter!). And the pockets remind me of the twelve days of Christmas:

In the first pocket she carries for me: Large plastic bags to pick up my gigantic poop

In the second pocket she carries for me: A multitude of tissues to wipe the drool from my muzzle before I fling it on unsuspecting passersby

In the third pocket she carries for me: Biscuits to assuage my hunger while we walk

In the fourth pocket she carries for me: My business cards to distribute to my many admirers

In the fifth pocket she carries for me: My twenty foot leash

In the sixth pocket she carries for me: A camera to record my extraordinary beauty

In the seventh pocket she carries for me: Her leftovers for my evening dinner

In the eighth pocket she carries for me: A Zoom groom to give me a massage and make my coat more shiny

In the ninth pocket she carries for me: Direct Stop in case I am attacked by a canine ninja

In the tenth pocket she carries for me: a Halti in case I get in a mood to break some bones or to dislocate some limbs

In the eleventh pocket she carries for me: A cell phone in case I have an emergency

In the twelfth pocket she carries not for me: A useless book on dog training.

(and rather than a partridge in a pear tree—yummy—she also carries my water canteen slung over her shoulder-- is it any wonder she looks like the Michelin man?)

However, last night the 12th pocket contained the third Cesar Millan DVD on Mastering Leadership that we all watched after a nice meal of pizza (this time I wasn’t hand fed the pizza, rather it was thoughtfully cut up for me in my bowl). Now there is nothing like watching a Cesar Millan video with my humans sprawled on the couch and me sprawled on top of my humans. (it’s a good thing we can see Cesar but Cesar can’t see us!). And of course the juxtaposition of hearing Cesar’s views on doling out affection only at appropriate moments whilst receiving a four handed massage was richly entertaining. (As an added bonus, my post rain ears remained both wet and freezing cold which made draping them on sensitive necks or dangling them down shirts pretty squeal worthy. Of course the ladies could have tried to remove me from their laps, but somehow this seems never to occur to them).

Anyway the third Cesar Millan video is my favorite, notwithstanding the peals of laughter from my humans every time Cesar mentions that dogs are not supposed to walk in front of humans or charge through doorways first. (Cesar believes in mastering the walk; I believe in mastering the tow, as you can see in this brief video—and I was quite calm that day too).

Cesar’s third video is about acquiring a dog and it follows three cases: getting a dog from a shelter, getting a dog from a rescue group and getting a dog from a breeder. Cesar discusses the importance of getting a dog that matches your energy level: “low”, “medium”, “high” and “very high” (“insane” was apparently not one of the choices). But the best part of the video was the second case, which involved getting a Basset Hound from a rescue group. During the video someone asks why there are so many Basset Hounds in rescue, whereupon my humans shouted “We know!’ in perfect unison. And trust me, the Basset is a much milder Hound than I. The Basset Hound segment stimulated yet another discussion as to why people want Hounds. Maria’s excuse is that she doesn’t know any better—she’s only just had Hounds. Elizabeth, who has lots of experience with regular dogs, just “Tsk, tsk, tsks” at me a lot and expounds on how, although I am a very fine Hound, I am really a very dreadful dog. But Maria and I suspect that the fact that she buys a quantity of extra poached salmon at the gourmet store so that I can have “leftovers” (2/3 of a pound of salmon not generally being considered a single portion) and accompanies me on my long walk every evening and spends Sundays with me in the park and buys me toys and cooks for me, (including an entire Thanksgiving dinner with leftovers) and bathes me (even though I trash her apartment) and takes pictures of me and smells like me really means that she is rather fond of me in spite of her protestations. Especially, as in true Houndly fashion, I give her back…nothing! (if you don’t count the hair, the smell and the drool, although observation leads me to believe that these gifts are not entirely appreciated). I think it is human nature to want to please a withholding entity such as myself—my slightest gesture of approbation becomes cause for major celebration (”Wimsey belched in my face! I am sure he is telling me how much he enjoyed the salmon I brought him!”). If I were a slavish canine I am sure it would be all “Look Wimsey cleaned the apartment, did the laundry and bought me a Christmas present. Yawn. Good Dog.” As things are now, if I happen to choose to sit when someone happens to say “sit” my intelligence is lauded as if I had just solved a quadratic equation. (“Wimsey is a canine Einstein!”)

But watching the part of the DVD about how to bring a new dog into your home caused some happy reminiscences about my arrival in New York City—I was driven from my breeder in Illinois to New Jersey and then picked up by Maria and driven to New York. Naturally I rode in her lap (I was as yet too young to appreciate the joys of trying to steer the car by playing with the steering wheel). Then we went for a brief puppy tow around the block and finally she carried me up the stairs to her apartment, as I was deemed to small to accomplish this task on my own (I encouraged this activity to such an extent that it was not until I was over 40lbs that it occurred to Maria that perhaps this was something that I now might be able to achieve unaided).

I don’t think Cesar would have approved, but then it worked for us (or at least me, which is the main thing). So as far as giving the Cesar Millan DVD series as a Christmas present, I can recommend it as a gift for people with regular dogs (those that actually care about what their humans want) And as for people with Hounds—well, they might enjoy seeing how the other half lives. Or they might weep.

And speaking of Christmas presents, every year there is a Christmas fair at the southern tip of Central Park and I towed my humans over for a visit last Sunday. We were unable to do any proper shopping though, as wherever we went people insisted on admiring me and taking my picture. I caused quite a stir as it is not the usual thing for a large baying Hound to suddenly appear amidst all the traditional displays of arts and crafts. And we met some nice people from Spain which gave Elizabeth the opportunity to tell them I was a “sabueso grande” which elicited a response of “Oh, you speak Spanish!” whereupon she had to admit that her Spanish vocabulary was limited to saying “Great Hound.” In fact most of the things my humans can say in other languages are about me, which is as it should be, other topics of conversation being superfluous. Hounds are like Esperanto—a universal language. Hounds promote international unity as “He’s so cute!” knows no geographic boundaries. We should be the symbol for the UN.

But the New York Christmas fair, which is modeled on the fairs of medieval Europe, got me thinking once again about my heritage as a rare and prized hunting Hound (the monks of St. Hubert, who bred us, were obliged to present a pair of us every year to the King of France. Poor chap.). In 21st century New York, however, my magnificent nose and my hard charging drive to use it represent an inconvenience, whereas in the Middle Ages it represented a priceless gift. After all, the local lords couldn’t exactly nip on down to the neighborhood Safeway to provision their tables should they have a bad day in the forest. Hunting with a Hound of my caliber must have been a revelation-- St. Huberts were the Lamborghini of Hounds---where juicy boar and meaty animals went we were sure to follow, quickly and accurately. And we were much celebrated in song and verse. It is a little known fact that Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales also included a Hound’s Tale, as my ancestors generally tagged along on pilgrimages to Canterbury to make sure the pilgrims had something to eat besides medieval gruel.

The Hound’s Tale (loosely translated from the Middle English)
By Geoffrey Chaucer

Now there was a Duke of Wessex who a precious gift had received
A magnificent Hound to him was given as a mark of kingly favor
For his services in subduing some annoying barbarians who wanted their land back
And at first well pleased the Duke was with this wonderful Hound

Meat abundant there was suddenly gracing the ducal table
His chevaliers shocked and awed were by the Magik of The Nose
The Great Olfactor failed never to find delectable viand on the hoof
And much rejoicing was there about the prowess of this Hound

Alas the Duke became in his mind discomfited as time flew on
Masques and fetes there were given in honour of the Hound
Musik and poesie there were composed to celebrate and extol the virtues of the Hound
And Sir Rocco of Spirito a cookbook penned based upon the new meats of Houndly procurement

And when the Duke his court entered, no fanfares thus, but cries of “Where is the Hound”
And when the Hound accompanied him did, chevaliers on bended knee their obeisance made to the Smelly Beast
And the Hound was caparisoned in cloth of gold and precious stones bejeweled his fine collar

And so it was that the Duke felt Duke no more but mere vassal of the Magnificent Hound—a mighty peevement felt he
Yeah even his very garments and palace walls bore evidence of the omnipresent beast
And yet the choicest bits of viand did find their way into the mouth of the creature
And of an evening the Hound even sat upon the ducal throne, having shov’d its rightful owner to the ground.

So the Duke determined to regift the Hound to the court of a rival duke (or mayhaps his mother in law)
But alas without the consideration of the Ladies had he not reckoned
A fury arose the like of which had nevermore been seen, then or since, in all of Wessex
“But he’s so cute!” the battle cry of the avenging angels, they roared as one

A cautionary tale this is I fear:

The Duke was forevermore deprived of enjoying the charms of his lady wife
And all the wise and virtuous court ladies her example followed too
And endless pilgrimages to Canterbury the lot of the deposed Duke became
While the Hound snored in his bed.

Here ends the Hounds Tale.

Unfortunately Chaucer’s Hound ate the tale so it was never included in the standard version of the Canterbury Tales, but a copy was preserved by one of my medieval ancestors, Ch. Thomas à Beckett Wimsey.

Well what with DVD reviews and Chaucerian scholarship we have not time for our foray into the realm of art history, but I do have hope that next week we will resume our visits to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Until then I wish you all the joys of the season—and don’t pay any attention to that silly “naughty or nice” system—it’s rigged against Hounds.

Until next time,

Ye Obnoxious Wimsey


Anonymous said...

Dearest Wimsey,

You really should have started this week's entry with a warning regarding that picture of you sprawled on the bed. My heart is just now recovering from the palpitations caused by your comely pose. My response is highly embarrassing to me, as I am a rather dainty cat. Le sigh...


Miss Kitty

Anonymous said...

Your reference to Esperanto reminds me of an inicident regarding the Metropolitan Police in London.

In order to save money the Met bought dogs trained in Germany. Unfortunately the dogs only understood instructions in German, not English. The dogs ignored everyone, including the police!

Certainly another argument in favour of Esperanto!

Unknown said...

We continue to love reading your observations on hound-dom and have such twinges of missing Booker our coonie. This morning, we saw the most sparkling foxhound walking down the street. That is the only work to describe him - he was just "bubbly!" The woman who owns "Herringbone and Hounds" down the street has a Bloodhound, but we have never met him. The Christmas faire sounds like fun. You are such a good sport to tolerate your humans' little excursions.

Bentley said...

Oh Wimsey, I do love your blog. It means that at least once a week, my humans are reminded how wonderful it is to be owned by a hound. And it helps them maintain some sanity to realize they are not the only humans who are honored to serve hounds such as us.

As far as rain wear, my human guardian would like to suggest Cabela's PacLite rainwear - there are jackets, parkas and rain pants available - great for rain and also keep out the cold wind.

Nessa Happens said...

Darlingest Wimsey - we were so very glad to receive your drool-laden tidings on our christmas wish list - we have missed you.

Lotsa licks,

The NJ Newfs

Thoughts said...

Wimsey we hope you have a wonderful NEw York Christmas (we dont know what that means, our bean made us write it) and we hope you get all the liver and salmon you could possibly eat. We are very much looking forward to our giant sized christmas boxes...

Happy Holidays.

Your friends,

Benson, Gibson, Theodore and Sasha

Unknown said...

Hi Wimsey!

I'm a NYC dog too, albeit a much smaller one and a terrier at that. But I like to howl when Mommy's too slow rescuing the ball from under the couch or taking me outside. So... perhaps there is a bit of the hound in this terrier body.

I saw your comment on Biggie's blog. Wouldn't it be great to get all the NYC dogs with blogs together in a dog park for a convention?

I'll be sure to stop by again - and pop downtown to the West Village to visit my blog too!

Your pal,