July 3, 2009
Hello Everyone. It’s me, Wimsey, wishing you a Happy Fourth of July from that historic epicenter of the nation, New York City. In spite of the continuing cool, wet and sticky weather all systems are go here in the Big Apple for a spectacular celebration. And as is the annual custom, many of the City’s residents have gone elsewhere to celebrate whilst the people from elsewhere have come to New York City to celebrate. This population exchange never made much sense to me but I suspect it is illustrative of that old adage, the grass is always greener on the side you have been prohibited from peeing on. Not of course that my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have much luck in preventing me from peeing anywhere that I choose to pee.
And speaking of peeing (an activity right up there with eating cooked meals, being spoon fed Grom Gelato, and napping on the furniture) my humans really got into the thick of it this week. Now many people associate the month of June with any number of things—weddings, Wimbledon, school vacation, etc., but Chez Wimsey June brings The Annual Veterinary Physical. And I have to say I love going to the vet. From the moment I walk in and get up on my hind legs to check in at the counter to the moment I leave, the adulation is pretty much non-stop. It would be a perfect experience if not for some pesky activities like having to give blood (a misnomer, since I don’t actually give it—hounds not being amenable to giving anything willingly, even blood; we’re much more skilled at the taking end of things—the blood is forcible removed from me) and having my ears reamed out. This year the vet said there was quite a bit of “debris” in my ears which somehow made it sound like I was harboring the unfortunate consequences of a U-boat attack in there instead of the more natural material relating to my incessant Houndly perambulations around Central Park.
Things appeared to be looking up when my internal organs were being massaged and I was being gently poked and prodded but then the vet handed Maria a cup and pointed us towards the door. Apparently a urine sample was required and if there is one thing I am abundantly endowed with (apart from the visibly obvious thing) it is urine. But I must say I found it extremely disconcerting that every time I lined myself up along a desirable vertical surface Elizabeth would squeal “Quick, he’s about to do it!” and Maria would dive under me, cup at the ready-- all of which was so distracting and annoying that I would be forced to lower my leg without having produced any of the desired precious bodily fluid. Now peeing is one of my favorite activities but this was a real buzz kill. And their urgency was patently absurd—it is not as if I ever run out of the stuff (I pride myself on my superior marking prowess, even after many hours in the park I never run dry or need to engage in embarrassing air marking). And then of course there was my natural Houndly tendency not to do anything that my humans want me to do, even if it’s something I normally enjoy doing, like peeing.
Anyway, they eventually obtained the required sample and we all headed back to the office, my humans proudly bearing forth the cup of golden liquid like Jason coming home with that coveted fleece. And then to compensate me for the ear reaming, the blood sucking needle and the humiliating pee collecting I was taken for a delicious cup of Grom Gelato. And as usual my gromming attracted the attention of the citizenry (“I see your Hound likes the good stuff” and so forth).
The joy of the vet visit was somewhat overshadowed by this week’s dismal weather-- we had quite a lot of rain and thunderstorms which meant that I got to debut my new raincoat. I have to say once I shook my head and freed my ears from that ridiculous hood, it wasn’t all that bad. I always pride myself on my conspicuous and eye catching appearance and being caparisoned in a swath of bright yellow vinyl only adds to the stunning visual effect. It was only a shame that there were not more people about braving the elements to admire me, although I did get a fair number of people to stop and gawk in the pouring rain. And the fact that my coat collection has invaded Maria’s scarce closet space is also a source of satisfaction, Hounds by their nature being an invasive species.
Well the other thing that June brings is Wimbledon and as I now spend my afternoons with Elizabeth I have been treated to a couchside seat to this event. Frankly I don’t understand the point—here’s this nice bouncy ball being thwacked about and the players are chasing it only to send it back to someone else to chase. And Elizabeth sits mesmerized watching this for hours-- as if she is viewing a room full of squirrels playing with a raccoon or something actually interesting. And she thinks I am mentally challenged. Anyway, Wimbledon isn’t all bad because Elizabeth keeps one hand on the remote and one hand on me scratching, in a most gratifying way—especially during the exciting tiebreaks. I would like to attend Wimbledon myself but am told that this would not be a good idea:
Reasons Why I Would Not Be Welcome at Wimbledon
I wear black and tan instead of white
No one else would be wearing white either
Strawberries and cream would vanish from people’s tables
The grounds would be well marked, only not with signs
The Centre Court spectators expecting to see tennis would see roaching instead
Players would have a hard time playing with just one tennis shoe
Balls would be snatched mid-point
If Rafael Nadal were playing he would have help tugging at his shorts
Baying would render the score inaudible
John McEnroe wouldn’t be tennis’ only bad boy
Mount Murray would be given a whole new meaning
Anyway in honor of our great Hound loving nation turning 233 tomorrow I thought we should review how it all came to be:
Wimsey’s Guide to American History: The Early Years
Jamestown 1607: Hoping to make lots of money for clothes fancier than those of the French king, King James I sends a bunch of city folk to exploit the uncharted wilderness of Virginia. Sadly the land already belonged to the Indians who were mighty cheesed off at this turn of events and captured the colony’s leader John Smith. Smith was spared execution through the good offices of his Hound who charmed Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas (the words for “He’s so cute!” in Algonquin being lost to history) and offered to help the Indians find an abundance of juicy animals.
Plymouth Rock 1620: The Pilgrims, who were first kicked out of England for their religious beliefs and then out of Holland because of the stench of their Hounds, arrive in Massachusetts. They established the first civil government in the New World and while not always the most tolerant people on matters of religion, they display a deep affection and tolerance for their Hounds.
1754: The French and Indian War: The French and the English who had at this point been pretty much fighting for seven hundred years have at it again, this time in the New World. The French lose (a disturbing trend since 1066—too much fashion and foie gras perhaps?) and are forced to forfeit not only Canada and all lands east of the Mississippi but also their Hounds who fall under the protection of that rising military (and hound loving) star, George Washington.
1764-1767: Taxes, Taxes and more Taxes: King George, having spent a boatload of cash to once again vanquish the frogs, needed a new source of dosh, so Parliament began taxing all kinds of stuff in the colonies—sugar, stamps, glass, lead, paper, tea, etc (Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Townshend Act) which seemed reasonable to the Crown since beating the French never came cheap, even in the colonies. But it was a rumored tax on Hounds that galvanized Sam Adams’ Sons of Liberty (an offshoot of the original Hounds of Liberty) and caused the Virginia House of Burgesses and Hounds to bay “No taxation without representation.” Apparently the Brits feared that the rough hewn colonials would swamp Westminster with their stinky Hounds should they be accorded parliamentary representation.
1773: The Boston Tea Party: A group of rambunctious Hounds (accompanied by humans in fancy dress) trash a British ship containing tea to protest British meddling in colonial business affairs. Parliament, who clearly had no experience of how to manage unruly Hounds, enacted a series of punitive measures which only made the Hounds (and their humans) even more stubborn and riled up. They should have tried positive reinforcement. In addition to everything else, the British measures mandated the use of the Gentle Leader on all Hounds. It is for that reason they became known as The Intolerable Acts.
1775-1776: The Revolutionary War Begins and the Declaration of Independence is Signed: The Declaration, largely drafted by Thomas Jefferson was read to the Continental Congress--a body where large stinky Hounds were welcomed-- and made official on July 4, 1776. One has only to glance at the document to appreciate the influence of these Revolutionary Hounds—the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for instance, are key tenets of Houndly philosophy (especially the pursuit of happiness part).
1783: The Treaty of Paris: The Brits finally pack it in and return to the much more satisfying mission of annihilating the French. Fighting a guerilla war with the uncouth Americans and their legions of stinky and harassing Hounds proved to be just too much. It was bad enough that the Americans refused to wear brightly colored clothing and stand around in organized formations waiting to be shot, but their Hounds did serious damage to the supply lines and personal possessions of the troops. Lack of food and holes in one’s britches are demoralizing.
1787: The Constitution: Here we clearly see the impact of Hounds upon the Founding Fathers. Undoubtedly they had observed the havoc that an unchecked Dominant Hound can wreak on public order but that this Hound could be controlled by a pack of Hounds. And when the pack of Hounds got too frisky it was observed that a small group of Supreme Hounds who, quite exceptionally, have some brain cells, could step in and administer corrective nips. Thus was born the concept of checks and balances.
1803: the Louisiana Purchase: Napoleon needed money to fight the English (la plus ça change....) so in a real estate deal that would make Donald Trump weep he sold a vast stretch of territory west of the Mississippi to the fledgling US government for a mere $15 million (the price of a moderately nice New York City apartment). Hounds heartily approved of the transaction because there were rumors of abundant fur bearing animals throughout the territory.
1804: Lewis and Clark: The Hounds of Lewis and Clark chewed their way out of their fenced yard and headed West after the rumored abundant fur bearing animals. Lewis and Clark spent two years arduously tracking these Hounds, during which time they saw lots of stuff and met a bunch of famous Indians. When they finally caught up to the Hounds the duo were heard to administer a very stern “Bad dog!” The Hounds ignored this and promptly started America’s first line of fur lined dog coats and hats.
1812: The War of 1812: Guess what! The English and French were fighting again! Only this time America got in the middle and ended up fighting yet another war with the Brits who, much like Jennifer Aniston, never gave up hope of reclaiming what had been lost. Many heroic deeds were done, the Star Spangled Banner was written (although after seeing what his Hound had done to the flag its original title was The Star Mangled Banner), the White House was burned (and not by the opposition party either!) and against all odds, the British lost yet again-- at which point they decided to permanently focus on foes whom they could actually beat. Like the French.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Well anyway, the only other news around here is that last Sunday I was accompanied on my long Central Park walk by yet another admirer—her name is Mary and she lives in Louisville, Kentucky and has a Bloodhound-Lab mix. (Here are some pictures of her succumbing to the temptation to play with my ears and wrinkles). I like having these visiting entourages and am hoping to see her again on her next trip here where perhaps I might introduce her to the joys of Grom Gelato.
We conclude this holiday post with the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art’s continuing look at masterworks from the second grade class at the Denali Elementary School in Fairbanks, Alaska. Our first artist is Maurice with his dynamic Me Throwing a Stick and Wimsey Trying to Run and Jump and Get the Stick. Now personally, I love this piece, perhaps because it makes me look like an imposing black saddled dinosaur or perhaps because it is heavy on action. Here we see the artist using the Renaissance technique of including multiple time points in the same picture in order to tell a story—that of me demanding to have a stick thrown and then chasing it (notice the accuracy with which the artist never shows me bringing back the stick). He has clearly annotated the picture so there can’t be any misinterpretation of his work, a common problem amongst modern artists. Anyway this is a jolly picture—the sun is happy, the boy is happy and most important, I am happy.
Next we have another interpretation of a fetch scene: Isaac’s Me and Wimsey Are At the Front of the Hotel I Lived In Playing Fetch. First we note that the artist has divided the canvas in half—the green of the earthbound and the blue of the celestial. His abode, the hotel, seems to float off in celestial space, adding an immediacy to the earthbound activities, namely me awaiting the throwing of a stick. The artist has made particular note of my large feet—a feature much remarked upon in public—as well as my fine black saddle. The angle of my head indicates that I am probably about to bay for the stick to be thrown and the artist has chosen a fine orange for the sun to enhance the color of the pale blue sky and the yellow green grass. He has also chosen to include a small echoing and unattributed figure in the background which extensive academic research indicates is probably Gus, the resident bloodhound of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Well that was the week that was---hope you all enjoy your 4th and don’t forget to honor the contribution of the Hound to the Great American Story. Without us you’d all be having tea and crumpets instead of hot dogs and hamburgers.
Until next time,
Wimsey, An American Masterpiece
“Ask not what your Hound can do for you, but what you can do for your Hound”
Friday, July 3, 2009
Posted by Wimsey at 8:43 PM