Friday, February 27, 2009

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry #108
February 27, 2009

Hello everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you from high atop my bed (which my human thinks is really hers) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Spring seems to be just around the corner here and my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are already busily inspecting the state of their wet and muddy weather walking gear. And Elizabeth has purchased this year’s crop of brightly colored long sleeved spring Hounding t-shirts. I am sure she thinks that being dressed like a rainbow will make somebody notice her or perhaps she is under the misguided impression that mud, dirt and drool stains do not show on brightly colored clothing. Personally I am glad that my elegant black and tan coat and my Spiderman foot pads are appropriate in all weathers, especially when I see the multitude of equipment choices my humans are forced to make with every walk-- Doppler radar screens are consulted, humidity and wind speeds are discussed and potential rises or falls in temperature over the lengthy periods of our walks are factored in. None of this makes any difference, however, as a walk with me always guarantees that they will end up experiencing at least some degree of dirt and discomfort, the only question being what form it will take—wet from sweat or from rain; dirt from slogs through mud and slush or from the dirt I like to vigorously kick on them while they are bending down to pick up my poop (I use all four of my super sized paws to achieve maximum earth moving power). But it won’t be long before my humans stop complaining about my being psychotic on my walks and complain about me being sluggish instead-- a seasonal consequence of the rise in temperature. This will send them scurrying to the vet with whacking great wads of cash to make sure that I am not ill. And the vet will happily order a wide range of expensive tests for a panoply of esoteric illnesses, give me a scratch and a biscuit and in the end pronounce me fit as a fiddle—just a Hound suffering from spring fever.

But we know that spring is never far away when the Oscars arrive in our living rooms. Maria gives them a miss as the only movies she likes are the ones where things get blown up and this is not generally a popular Oscar winning genre. And Elizabeth never goes to movies at all as she finds she loses track of the story wondering what I am up to, but she likes to watch the Oscars anyway to marvel at people whose couture and accessories do not come from LL Bean and Lands End. I like to watch too for the clothes and the hair, only I like to imagine what these people would look like after spending a few minutes with me. (I also like to think that those few minutes would send even the most devoted doyenne of the red carpet fleeing to the LL Bean online store.). And this year The Oscar’s were enlivened by the decision to have previous winners obsequiously expounding on the merits of this year’s potential winners. I think this would work well at dog shows too:

“Entry # 5 for Best Bloodhound is Wimsey. Wimsey you are a magnificent black and tan specimen with a rich mahogany color, an appealing expression and a tail of an ideal size and shape for thwacking unsuspecting humans as demanded by the Breed Standard. Wimsey we applaud your lifelong excellence and commitment to your craft of making your humans’ lives as difficult as possible and we think that you are the most perfect Hound ever to have been whelped regardless of all those things your humans mutter…”

I think I would really enjoy that—as it happens most of the Oscar nominees looked like they’d rather be elsewhere. But the Oscars make me think that the categories of winners at dog shows are somewhat limited and should be expanded:

New Dog Show Categories:

Best achievement in stack dancing

Best musical performance in a non-musical role

Best original gait

Most drool flung on a judge in a supporting role

Best achievement for worst behavior

Most congenial with the female Hounds

Most amount of liver consumed in a starring role

Most terror induced in a handler by virtue of the fact that there is only a string around your neck

Lifetime achievement award for always standing crooked

Best comic performance in a non-comedic role

Honorary Best in Breed for making everyone else appreciate their dogs more

Best of the opposite of everything you would want in a dog

I bet I would win a whole lot more if these categories were included. But as to the Oscars, although I am sure the nominated pictures were excellent, even though not many people apparently actually went to see them, I think they could have been better:

Wimsey’s Oscar Nominated Movies

The Curious Case of Benjamin Hound: People acquire a senior canine in the hopes of retaining their possessions when for no apparent reason the animal mysteriously ages backwards and progressively destroys their home anyway.

Frost/Nixon: A disgraced President confesses to an egomaniacal TV interviewer that it was really his Hound who broke into Democratic Headquarter and stole confidential papers. The Hound also took a 15 minute nap with his paw on the Watergate Tapes “erase” button and masterminded the whole cover-up as Hounds specialize in covering up their misdeeds. Nixon was heard to declare that if Checkers was a gift from God the Hound was a gift from the other place.

Milk: A Hound raids the refrigerator whilst his humans are busy watching the Oscars and washes down Sunday’s roast beef dinner with a quart of milk, giving him a telltale mustache and leading to a prolonged time out in his crate.

The Reader: An educated person with a large library misguidedly acquires a Hound, who also has a voracious appetite for literature,

Slumdog Millionaire: A slum dweller acquires a spectacularly badly behaved Hound, writes a bestseller about the experience and becomes a millionaire prompting his neighbor to grow wealthy by writing SlumCat Millionaire.

The Visitor: A couple comes to stay with a retiring professor bringing along their Hound. Originally titled The Visitor from Hell.

The Wrestler: A film about a Hound.

Maria Getting Married: Maria thinks she’s getting married but her Hound thinks otherwise. In the end no suitor proves brave enough to sustain the onslaught of drool, stench, hair and broken bones.

Changeling: A woman’s bloodhound is replaced by a beagle and people tell her it’s the same thing but she becomes suspicious when she notices that the furniture stops getting eaten.

Frozen River: A large Hound goes out for its first walk of the day in frigid conditions.

Doubt: Does Jen still love Brad? Does Brad still love Jen? Are people who voluntarily live with Hounds really sane?

I can of course identify fully with Brad Pitt as I am also an incredibly handsome guy who has two women doting on him. Only in my case the women are only too happy to share:

Maria: “Please, by all means, you take Wimsey’s leash.”

Elizabeth: “Oh, no. I couldn’t possibly deprive you of the pleasure.”

Maria: “I insist. I know you must be longing to be dragged down the street. And anyway Wimsey nearly killed me yesterday.”

Elizabeth: “He only does that because he loves you. I am sure he would be very sad if I took his leash. You take the leash and I will feed him his biscuits.”

Maria: “No you take the leash and I will feed him his biscuits. I like it when he forcefully jabs his muzzle into the treat pouch around my waist. It’s good for the abs.”

Elizabeth: “But remember how good it is for your pecs when he goes after the rats! And then there are the squirrels and of course remember how powerful he got over the raccoon. Rodents are so good for the biceps and I know you like to wear sleeveless tops when it gets warm.”

And of course the ladies are equally gracious when it comes to whose lap I will sit on when Elizabeth comes over for a visit.

Anyway, I think it’s about time for our weekly visit to The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art where the subject of women was never far from our artist’s heart, mind, paint brush and other bits. He is none other than Paul Gauguin the quintessential model for European men going native. Gauguin left a prosperous if boring life as a stockbroker, abandoning a wife and five children in the process, to pursue his art in the South Pacific (no one ever said artistic geniuses were nice guys). Gauguin was interested in form and line and his bold paintings became the foundation for primitivism. He was also notoriously interested in the ladies. Lots of ladies, preferably very young ones which explains why he died of syphilis at the age of fifty four. The Siesta (Paul Gauguin 1892, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). In this painting Gauguin depicts the indolent grace of several Polynesian women having a bit of a rest from the no doubt brutal heat of the afternoon sun. But Gauguin changed one element of the painting that I think was a mistake—originally it contained a dog instead of the basket. But see how much more relaxing and beautiful the indolent grace of the women is with the (re) insertion of a magnificent Hound! The Hound has made himself wonderfully comfortable, his massive head resting on the shoulder of a recumbent woman and his rump resting against the back of the central figure. See what a relaxing element he adds to the painting as he enjoys a deep and satisfying nap. Wimsey’s Siesta.

OK, time for the real thing!

Until next time,

Wimsey, The Very Best of Opposite

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry #107
February 20, 2009

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you from that wind swept bastion of High Hound Culture, Manhattan’s Upper West Side where I am apparently a famous local character. The other day I was out for a mid afternoon tow with my human Maria when two strangers approached and one pointed to me and said to the other “that’s Wimsey” in the same hushed and reverent tones with which one might say “that’s Oprah.” Maria claims not to have recognized them but it is entirely possible that I met them when out with her friend, my auxiliary human, Elizabeth. And yesterday’s evening walk was considerably enlivened when we were waiting for Elizabeth in front of her building and someone looking at Maria from the back mistook her for a man which incensed her in spite of the fact that she was dressed exactly like one. This started a heated evening walk debate as to whether it is worse to be mistaken for a man or for a child, as happened to Elizabeth all through college. I was about to chime in that in my opinion being mistaken for a Basset Hound, a St. Bernard or a female dog (someone flunked anatomy) is far worse but all conversation ceased abruptly in the face of a massive gust of wind that elevated my ears and flews in a manner that suggested imminent takeoff. It put me in mind of a new TV show:

The Flying Hound

The Flying Hound is a show about a Hound whose large flews and ears cause him to unexpectedly take flight in strong winds. The Hound uses this ability to make surprise appearances at local picnics and barbecues where, posing as a health inspector, he confiscates all the meat. The Hound also drops in on people facing seemingly insurmountable personal challenges where his sage advice is ignored because it takes the form of loud baying. Nonetheless his great physical beauty combined with his assertive attitude inspires people to overcome all obstacles in a heartwarming manner. In the end the grateful humans reward him with more meat. The Hound also sometimes drops by commuter ferry boats where he cadges hot dogs from people who still have jobs and disrupts sporting events by relieving himself on teams not from New York. The Flying Hound is looked after by two clueless humans who never seem to rethink walking him in high winds.

Anyway, these days it has been so windy that the ladies fight over who holds my leash as the leash holder stands a better chance of remaining upright. Of course the wind also makes me frisky so that my leash holder incurs a compensatory risk of going down for non-meteorological reasons but this seems never to have occurred to them. The wind is just the latest in a slew of climactic assaults that we have weathered this winter-- New York having been beset by interludes of drool freezing cold, driving snow and fierce floods. Someone up there just doesn’t like us and I am sure a plague of frogs is going to be next (frogs being my personal favorite amongst Biblical plagues—it rather sounds like fun, much better than locusts, etc-- I am looking forward to it with great anticipation--cuisse de grenouille being part of my Frankish heritage).

But our walks continue to be quite lively affairs and the importance of having a spare human present cannot be overstated. Whichever human is not holding the leash is in charge of feeding me copious quantities of cookies since I generally find myself in need of sustenance after one of my masterful early evening displays of poopage. Protocol dictates that I make my desire for cookies known with vigorous pokes to the treat pouch (or abdomen in case the pouch is absent) of the person not holding the leash thereby tripping the person who is holding the leash. And it’s all “Wimsey wants another cookie but he’s just had one!” and “Well he probably doesn’t remember the last one—don’t dogs have short memories. Or maybe it’s Wimsey’s homage to Ground Hog Day. Or maybe the island of Manhattan is like that annoying island on “Lost” that keeps moving around in time.” Or maybe I just enjoy being fed a continuous stream of cookies. But the cookies do distract me from my new role as the Upper West Side’s Great Black and Tan Poodle Hunter. Now for some reason we keep seeing quite a number of these small fluffy animals whose humans seem terrified by my baying and misguidedly assume that I have more on my mind than just the eating of cookies. But really these creatures are not of a very sturdy design and as poodle squashing is not likely to be met with much approbation I am not permitted near them. I get fed cookies instead (it’s actually quite hard to bay and chew cookies at the same time, but I am working on it). Nevertheless, I was able to approach one of these insubstantial creatures on our Sunday walk although it seemed to be under the protection of an intrepid basset.

On another topic, my Valentine’s Day post has elicited much discussion as to the paucity of boyfriends in my human’s life and the reasons for this sad condition, so I offer further evidence for her blessedly single state:

My Human on a Speed Date

Potential date: Tell me about yourself?

Maria: I have a Hound.

Potential date: And where did you go to school?

Maria: I went to school in Virginia and Texas but was not permitted to have a Hound on campus. It was very sad.

Potential date: And what do you do for a living?

Maria: I take care of my Hound. He is a very large Hound. Taking care of him doesn’t pay well but it is very satisfying. Especially for him.

Potential date: I see. And what do you do for fun?

Maria: Well, I take long walks with my Hound, I wrestle with my Hound, I watch TV with my Hound, I rub my Hound’s belly, I shop for my Hound, and take pictures of my Hound.

Potential date: Oh you like photography?

Maria: My Hound is very handsome. The camera loves him.

Potential date: And where do you like to go on vacation?

Maria: My apartment. My Hound doesn’t fly.

Potential date: And what do you do when you are not with your Hound.

Maria: Excuse me. I don’t understand the question.

So you can see the problem. People find out very little about my humans but a great deal about me. (“Hello, my name is Maria and I have a large and fantastic Hound named Wimsey after Lord Peter Wimsey. Let me tell you all about him.” Or even worse “Hello my name is Elizabeth and I don’t actually have a large and fantastic Hound named Wimsey but a friend of mine does so let me tell you all about him.”—I don’t recommend you invite either of my humans to a cocktail party any time soon). Perhaps I should go on the dates and attend the cocktail parties instead—it would save time.

But of course the ladies do meet quite a large number of people because of me especially when we all go food shopping at Fairway. Basically one person shops while the other person stands around outside with me and coordinates all the petting and adulation, and answers questions (about me) and poses me for pictures (Fairway is opposite a hotel). Personally I find theses shopping trips exhausting even though I am not the one inside being mowed down by strollers and out of control shopping carts (shopping at Fairway being one of New York City’s most popular contact sports). And as each of my humans emerge battered and bruised they are required to present their bags to me for inspection—I take these Homeland Security duties very seriously—I need to make sure that they are not harboring any dangerous devices, such as Gentle Leaders or no-pull harnesses (really “so-called” no pull harnesses as none of them have ever had any effect on me). In any case these bag inspections cause no end of amusement to passers-by—just until I attempt to inspect their bags. So I think the Wimsey TV Network should produce a TV show about a band of heroic Hounds protecting the homeland:

Legion of the SuperHounds

Welcome to the secret headquarters (it looks like a kitchen!) of the Legion of SuperHounds—America’s secret weapon in the fight against evil doers. Group Captain Wimsey has assembled a team of specialists whose missions are so secret they never talk about them. As these heroes are frequently under cover(s) they are known only by their SuperHound designations. Let’s find out more about them and their extraordinary powers—will you introduce them Group Captain:

GC Wimsey: Certainly. Here we have one of our most determined recruits:

Beagle: I make food disappear.

GC Wimsey: Yes, Beagle deprives our enemies of every type of needed sustenance. He can also make electronics disappear—quite quickly I might add. Next we have our smallest member:

Dachshund: I dig holes that trip fleeing villains.

GC Wimsey: Dachshund’s small size causes people to underestimate him, but trust me he can wreak an amazing amount of havoc. Next we have a key member of the team:

Basset: I’m your man on the ground—I destroy everything from needed footwear to secret plans to things you thought you hid from me. Like Beagle I have an unlimited appetite for electronics.

GC Wimsey: Next we have the team member we call the Flash:

Whippet: Now you see me, now you don’t. One minute I am holding your wallet and car keys and the next minute I’m gone. And unless you’re a cheetah or something you ain’t gonna catch me.

GC Wimsey: Our next team member:

Afghan: I interfere with vision. One shake of my mane and my enemies are looking at nothing but hair. I am pretty good at causing blinding bouts of sneezing also.
GC Wimsey: And last but not least, we have the muscle:

Ridgeback: Go on, make my day. I wasn’t born with hackles on my back for nothing.

Narrator: But what do you do Group Captain?

GC Wimsey: I am multi-purposed and am often known as The Disrupter. First and foremost, I am the Master Thief. If it exists I can steal it—everything from top secret communications to your lunch. Also I create sensory deprivation—I blind my enemies with drool (creating a new definition of “wet operations”) and deafen them with my supersonic baying. And then of course there is my near miraculous super power of just getting in the way. As the largest member of the team I can appear in your path suddenly and without warning and send you flying.

Narrator: Well that’s quite impressive. But what do you all do when you are not working?

Beagle: I make food disappear!
Dachshund: I dig holes!
Basset: I eat shoes!
Whippet: I run away with your stuff!
Afghan: I shed hair!
Ridgeback: I wait for people to make my day!
Wimsey: I represent!

Anyway, all this talk of artistic endeavors means it’s time for another visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Today we have another lush Renoir to look at: The Promenade (Pierre-August Renoir, 1870, The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California) painted at the height of Renoir’s powers. Here we see a woman who is being led along a garden path (probably in more ways than one) by a young suitor. But the lady is looking backwards, apparently at nothing, which I think is very puzzling. But see how much more sense the painting makes if the lady is also escorting a magnificent Hound! She is looking back at her Hound, perhaps to entreat him to move forwards, whereas he appears to want to go in another direction entirely. I think perhaps she should listen to her Hound. A Promenade with Wimsey.

Well, that’s all for this week-- time to give myself a wash and make myself more sleek and aerodynamic.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a flight of fancy

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry #106
February 13, 2009

Hello everyone. It’s me, Wimsey, coming to you direct from the canine capital of the world, New York City, where the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show wrapped up this week and all of us on the Upper West Side wish you a happy Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day. An interesting juxtaposition of holidays, don’t you think, and ideally suited to my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth who have not been lucky in love (but they have been extremely lucky in Hound). And some cynical folk out there would say that all things considered, being single is not always the unluckiest option. But of course for my human the presence of a large, stinky Hound can be somewhat inimical to the acquisition and retention of boyfriends—candle lit suppers for three being something less than romantic, especially when one party has to focus all her energy and attention on preventing the third party from stealing the food.

A Candle Light Supper With Wimsey

Potential boyfriend: What a wonderful meal.

Maria: Thank you. Boiled liver is one of Wimsey’s favorites. You can always tell when he is pleased by the size of the drool puddles on the table.

Potential boyfriend: Does he always blow bubbles like that with his drool?

Maria: Only when something is exceptionally delicious. Drool bubbles are his highest accolade.

Potential boyfriend: I see. And how thoughtful of you to provide a vinyl smock, but I seem to have an extra placemat.

Maria: That’s not a placemat, it’s a drool shield. You quickly place it in front of your face at the first sign of head shaking. It protects the bits not covered by the smock, although sometimes the trajectory of Wimsey’s drool forms a parabolic arc so you might need to cover the top of your head. But you can wear a shower cap if you like.

Potential boyfriend: No thanks. Perhaps with dessert. But where is my napkin?
Maria: Wimsey! Did you eat the napkins again! Naughty boy! You know what your poop looks like when you’ve been eating napkins!

Potential boyfriend: That’s a very interesting looking dessert. What is it?

Maria: My specialty. Crème de foie avec morceaux de foie sucré.

Potential boyfriend: That sounds delicious. What is it?

Maria: Liver pudding topped with shaved liver and powdered sugar. Wimsey likes it and it’s quite a healthy dessert, chock full of iron.

Potential boyfriend: And did you like the flowers I sent?

Maria: They were lovely and Wimsey appreciated them so much that he insisted on immediately watering them to preserve their freshness.

Well you get the idea. But really the point is moot as my humans have little time for boyfriends (or anything else for that matter) with me in the picture. Between my frequent and extensive walks, my culinary and grooming needs and the cleaning up after me it is quite a full and satisfying life. Especially for me.

So this week began with a great deal of excitement. commencing last Friday with Wimsey Bath Night--- which I found a way to considerably enliven by orchestrating a massive attack of flatulence. Now as the washing of a Hound entails being in a close, if not to say intimate proximity in a confined space, the release of copious quantities of noxious gas had quite an impact. There was much squealing and reprimanding and I observed that the lengthy scrubbing aspect of the process was significantly curtailed. An excellent stratagem— it makes a fine addition to my repertoire of hopping out of the bath tub, shaking at inopportune moments and playing tug of war with the towel. It also resulted in a change of food.

But it was all worth it because on Sunday we sallied forth in the shockingly spring like weather to meet my great love Phoebe who is the country’s #3 bloodhound and the #1 bloodhound of my heart. We met at the tip of Central Park and after some delightful preliminaries I got down to the business of wooing her in earnest. Now I know Phoebe likes me because she didn’t bite me which shows what a wonderful temperament she has as it can’t have been easy to enjoy a walk with a large wet cold nose stuck into one’s tender bits. Nevertheless, my ardor was such that it was at some point deemed necessary to employ the services of the gentle leader in order to restrain me-- but my humans quickly discovered how powerful, even a Hound in a head collar can be when he is suitably motivated.

And of course, no wooing would be complete without the passionate and sustained serenading of the beloved. So as the beautiful and elegant Phoebe strolled calmly through Central Park taking the air in a most lady like fashion she was followed by a furiously towing, foaming and baying suitor. Needless to say the spectacle attracted crowds of onlookers (all of whom wanted to pet Phoebe but curiously not me—I can’t imagine why). And it was all “Why is he doing that?” and Phoebe’s tactful human provided an expurgated version suitable for the ears of the admiring children. (it is bad enough that the sight of me frequently forces parents into detailed discussions of male anatomy but I think my humans would draw the line at me becoming known as Wimsey, The Sex Education Hound). In any case, I am sure that if I had been allowed to fully express my love for Phoebe we would have been sued.

And of course many photos were taken depicting the regal and aloof Phoebe (the Grace Kelly of Hounds) and the desperate and sonorous me. It’s funny how alike the females of a multitude of species are. We males are all given to outward displays of fire and passion and the ladies are all “Yawn, I think I’ll wash my hair now.” But I know she likes me and I will continue to woo her—faint Hound never won Fair Phoebe and all that and I will present her with this locket when I see her next.

When we finally parted Phoebe’s human gave me a stuffed toy that had been rubbed all over Phoebe to remember her by. Unfortunately the toy was so exciting that it had to be carried inside Maria’s jacket for the rest of the walk, making her look like she was pregnant in the wrong place. And both ladies required the immediate ingestion of aspirin to alleviate the headache that resulted from my incessant baying—baying having not only a painful auditory component but also a vibratory one which causes extraordinary discomfort, especially for the human at the other end of a leash. Exposure to prolonged serenades can indeed be quite trying (think of a full hour of inhale—bay—inhale—bay—inhale—bay with minimal breaks in the rhythm).

Anyway, Monday and Tuesday were Westminster days and even though I did not attend this year the beautiful Phoebe won an Award of Merit. Phoebe’s human was kind enough to display my cards on top of Phoebe’s kennel and was told “Oh yes that’s Wimsey. Everyone on the West Side knows him” (principally I am sure because I have deafened, slimed and poked most of its denizens) so I am hoping that my celebrity status makes more of an impression on Phoebe than my singing managed to do. Of course my humans remain insignificant—they are mere background actors holding the leash of a star-- so it’s a wonder that they don’t have a complex being around me.

A few of the many ways in which I am superior to my humans:

I have more legs
I am faster and stronger
I have a better sense of smell
I can eat more food, not all of it in my food bowl
I snore louder
I am more famous
I don’t need to dress like a blimp to stay warm in the winter
I can eat things that were not meant to be eaten
I own all vertical surfaces
I always get what I want
I get more dates

And while at Westminster Elizabeth went over to the Mastiff ring to say hello to Floyd, the brother of Mango, dog blogger extraordinaire ( and as she was explaining to Floyd’s handler about Mango, he sighed in a kind of an annoyed way and announced that she was the third person to tell him about Mango. Mango, by the way is holding MangoMinster for those of us belonging to breeds that never seem to win Westminster’s Best of Show title (the picture of me on my motorcycle from last week’s post placed me second in the Hound Group)!

And also this week we have had some very strange weather—it’s been in the 50s and near 60 which made for quite crowded conditions in the park as people poured out of hibernation from their apartments and into the sunshine and into me. The more people who are around the more old friends I run into—including an old basset buddy Humphrey and his little friend Louie. We look so polite and mannerly here, don’t we—it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fistfuls of turkey being brandished behind the camera could it? And of course there were tons of people who wanted to pet me. Now I am used to people who ask to pet me when I am clearly otherwise occupied in such crucial endeavors as following a line of scent, or chewing a stick or being fed a snack or having a drink (leaving my long suffering humans to explain that this is not an opportune moment at which to visit with me) but Sunday was the all time topper—I was pooping! Yes, someone actually asked to pet me while I in the process of depositing one of my large smelly mounds! Apart from the obvious potential to disrupt the proceedings, who would want to even get close (without some serious clothespin on the nose action) during such an activity? I guess I must be a whole lot more popular than even I thought! (of course the “do not disturb” rule as to toilet activities does not apply in the reverse—I very much like to supervise my humans’ bathroom breaks and they have to have quick hands with the lid to prevent me from carrying out a more in depth inspection; and when I stay with Elizabeth I also like to check in with her when she takes a shower just in case she also likes to eat turkey the way I do when I am being washed in her tub).

Anyway, it is now time for us to make our weekly pilgrimage to that temple of high culture, The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. This week, in keeping with Valentine’s Day and the visit of my lovely Phoebe we examine a painting by the French rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, The Love Song (Jean-Antoine Watteau, 1717, National Gallery, London). Watteau had a short life and was active during the later years of the reign of Louis XIV. He specialized in painting charming, idyllic scenes set in a romantic country background. In The Love Song we see the interaction between two flirtatious individuals about to engage in a duet. However, the foreground of the painting seems rather bare and it is unlikely that the gentleman with the guitar will be able to really impress his love with so slight an instrument. But see how the situation is immediately improved with the addition of a more imposing pair of lovers, two magnificent Hounds! We can almost hear the ear splitting ardor of the male Hound as he vigorously serenades his wonderfully luminescent love. See how attentive she is to the sound of his mournful and mellifluous baying and how the presence of this pair substantially increases the romantic appeal of the painting. What indeed could be more romantic than the sentimental sight and sound of a Hound in love? Wimsey’s Love Song.

Well, I think that is all for this week. I am off to nap and have lovely dreams of fair Phoebe (I might even bay in my sleep!)

Until next time,

Wimsey, Everybody's Valentine

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 105
February 6, 2009

Hello everyone. Wimsey here, coming to you from the sunny and tropical climes of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Only kidding—we are freezing our fannies off out here in the Big Apple (the Frozen Apple?) but all this frisky-making weather is pleasing me enormously. People keep asking my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth if I am a puppy as they gaze in wonder at my prodigious displays of ice zoomies. “No,” they reply “he’s just an idiot.” But as far as being an idiot goes, I am not the one meeting up every evening and asking “what’s the poop” and actually meaning it, so I will brook no more talk about my idiocy.

Well this has been an exciting week—it started off with a bang, or should I say a bay when I was accompanied on my Sunday marathon tour of Central Park by Ruthie, a lovely little Southern hound mix that Elizabeth met when she was assisting in a therapy dog training class. Isn’t she pretty? And of course I did my usual meet and greet of park goers. One day I aspire to collect a seriously large group of assorted Hounds and invade Central Park in a spectacular fashion. I can just see the headline in the Times: Hounds Invade Central Park: State of Emergency Declared as Charmed Residents Relinquish All Possessions.

But for now, Ruthie will do. And it is ironic that Elizabeth met Ruthie in dog training class since as far as being a dog trainer, Elizabeth has apparently gone over to The Dark Side. She has been encouraging some of my more amusing but naughty behaviors—especially those that annoy Maria—for her own entertainment. She thinks that naughty dogs are funny (Hounds being of course the most hilarious group) but that is because she doesn’t have to live with one. So in addition to teaching me to treat the human abdomen like a punching bag in the incessant search for cookies and to dart in front of Maria by walking sideways like a crab, thereby tripping her, Elizabeth was caught rewarding a bay that escaped me when the treats were not being forked over with the desired alacrity. And it was all “Did you just reward Wimsey for baying at me?!” and “Yes—isn’t it cute when he does that?!” She’s the Darth Vadar of dog trainers—may the Force be with her (I know mine always is).

Then of course Sunday was the Super Bowl and quite an exciting game is was too. We Hounds love football—a game with a gang of players, one ball and a large field in which to chase each other, knock each other down, bark orders and fight for possession of the ball. I am sure the game was invented by a Hound. Few people know that in addition to the NFL there is also the Wimsey Football League.

Teams of the WFL

The Pittsburgh Stealers

The Baltimore Ravenous

The Cincinnati Beagles

The Cleveland Black and Tans

The Chicago Bear Feet

The Detroit Loud as Lions

The Green Bay Package Destroyers

The Minnesota Vacuum Chasers

The Indianapolis Colt Sized Canines

The New Orleans Saintly Looking But Really Horribly Behaved Hounds

The New York Jet Propelled Destructors

The Washington Liver and Tan Skins

The New York Giant Hounds

The Philadelphia Eagle Eyed Food Snatchers

The Kansas City Chiefs of Everything

The Oakland Raiders

Well as if the Super Bowl weren’t excitement enough, we got word that my sister Dixie had puppies! Many, many puppies (she delivered one of them in true Hound style-- right in the middle of her human’s bed) and they want to name a girl puppy after me! (Wimsie?) Maybe they are hoping that if they appease the Hounds gods by naming it after me, it won’t actually be like me. So perhaps in the future you will be reading about Ch. Ewine’s Please Lord Don’t Let Her Turn Out Like Wimsey. But I don’t know what the fuss would be about if my niece were to be like me—I am not just handsome to behold but also quite useful about the house. Why only this week I helpfully unwrapped a bunch of light bulbs that must have been expressly laid out for this purpose and also kept Maria safe from that fiendish arch enemy, the vacuum cleaner.

And then we had a snowstorm during one of my evening walks and these are some atmospheric pictures taken from Maria’s Blackberry (which she finally managed to get programmed in English!).

But this week is also exciting because The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show begins on Monday which means all my Houndy friends will be in town. Last year I was benched next to the magnificent Phoebe and spent a considerable amount of time trying to get to know her better. And later that year I showed my devotion by stacking backwards in the show ring so I could gaze rapturously into her majestically wrinkled visage and I performed my “once around” so as to finish the maneuver with my nose stashed in her backside. And as a great mark of her favor and condescension she forbore to nip me on the nose. So there is talk of us taking a stroll in Central Park together this weekend where I plan on sharing with her all the best pooping spots and showing her where the air currents are the strongest (hint: generally this involves standing on some poor human seated on a bench) . And weather permitting I will display my mastery of the ice zoomies, although to be fair any activity that involves a 126 pound Hound, a twenty foot leash and speed is bound to be pretty impressive, ice or no. Consequently, I am showing my great love for her tonight by voluntarily participating in another episode of Wimsey Bath Night. Sadly Elizabeth’s little pit bull house guest will not be here to witness the result of these ablutions but I am sure there will be no shortage of admirers of my (temporarily) fresh smelling and spotless state. Elizabeth actually had occasion to bath the little pit bull this week—she reported it took all of 10 minutes whereas even the preparations for one of my bath nights consume an entire afternoon and the event itself requires an entire evening. It’s no wonder the ladies have recourse to the cocktail cabinet.

But although I will not be shown at Westminster this year (I refer you to last February’s post about the show for some of the reasons why not) I will be well represented by my humans. Maria will be lurking about the benching area and ringside in rapt admiration of all things canine while Elizabeth will be helping out at the ASPCA booth—just look for the smelly, drool spattered booth assistant.

Also this week we were contacted by a very nice woman who runs who wanted to list my blog for her customers’ canine edification. Of course I agreed, especially as when one has a sissy name like Wimsey one has to do everything one can to burnish one’s macho credentials. And as it happens I love motorcycles and am also thinking about designing a line of accessories to reflect my passion. Motorcycles are another thing that I have in common with my idol Marlon Brando—another macho guy like myself with a first name that does little to enhance our manly image (I wonder if being named Marlon is worse than being called Wimsey?). Anyway, it’s a good thing that I at least am able to display my impressively manly attributes on a daily basis to the admiring public—something that was not really an option for Brando; although with his wild history I am sure they got displayed plenty. (I wonder if his were has nice as mine?).

Anyway, in honor of me potentially meeting Phoebe, I have selected a very relevant painting from the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art by a somewhat obscure English pre-Raphaelite painter, Ford Madox Brown. The pre-Raphaelites admired the simplicity of the art of the early 15th century before the time of the renaissance painter Raphael, who they considered elaborate and theatrical. Romeo and Juliet (Ford Madox Brown, 1870, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington Delaware). Well, I mean Romeo and Juliet are so old hat and their romance didn’t turn out very well, so I think we can substantially enhance the appeal of this painting by adding a more robust set of lovers—Hounds being rather unlikely to drink poison or stab themselves with daggers, etc. (taking a bath is about as self-sacrificing as we get). See how the beautiful Phoebe gazes out at us with such Houndly sagacity as the ardent Wimsey intently drinks in her every expression. We can see that at any moment he will caress her ponderous flew with his lengthy, moist tongue. Was there ever such devotion! Romeo and Juliet and Wimsey and Phoebe.

Well I think I shall end on this inspiring note. Until next time,

(non) Westminster Wimsey

PS: Maybe Phoebe would like a ride on my motorcycle.