Friday, August 27, 2010

Wimsey's Blog:Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #181

Entry #181
August 27, 2010

Hello Everyone, Wimsey, here coming to you from the (very) temporarily un-tropical Upper West Side of Manhattan where the cessation of the heat and humidity please me no end. Of course it was also cloudy and rainy this week which did not please my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth who somehow believe that they are going to melt in the rain (doesn’t that only happen to wicked witches? Hmmm…).

Anyway, the rain does have its compensations—I got to wear my flashy red raincoat from Ruff Wear which makes me even more conspicuous-- if that were possible-- and upon my return I am greeted with a pile of fluffy towels and an extensive massage. One day I was apparently insufficiently moist and Maria thought she’d get away with just a quick once over until I glared at her and a proper post rain massage materialized. Humans can be so lazy.

Anyway, owing to the cooler weather and lack of suitable apartments to view, I had quite a long walk on Sunday. Apartment hunting seems to have ground to a halt as it appears that there are actually no apartments for rent on the Upper West Side that do not cost the GNP of a small nation or that do not discriminate against large, smelly and drooly dogs—the small barky ones seems preferable for reasons that escape me. I mean the only sound I make indoors is that of snoring or a few discrete squeaks to alert my humans to the fact that I require something that has not been forthcoming. Of course my humans do make a lot of noise, mostly related to the intense pain I cause when climbing, shoving, thwacking or otherwise conducting myself in a manner that behooves an entitled and majestic Hound such as myself.

But never mind—in the words of Dickens’ Mr. Micawber, something will turn up and in the meantime my humans have more time to devote to escorting me around to be viewed by the admiring masses. And if the admiration gets any more intense, I will have to be added to one these “things to see in Central Park” kiosks. Yesterday some guy whizzing by on a bicycle called out “Is that Wimsey the dog with the blog?” And on Saturday I was turned into a state fair event as various people wanted to hold my leash in order to pit their strength against mine. Of course for one of these folks, in true Hound fashion, I decided for the one and only time in my life to put on a display of loose leash heeling. Perhaps Maria could earn some extra rent money by introducing an exciting slate of Hound related events and contests:

The Wimsey Central Park Fair Event Roster

Poop finding contest

Guess the number of kibbles I am going to eat

Guess how far I can fling this piece of drool

The “can you eat your ice cream cone faster than I can steal it” contest

130 lb. Hound lap sitting endurance contest

Wimsey’s hootenanny (earplugs not included)

Wimsey tug-o-war (otherwise known as taking me for a walk)

Well you get the idea. And owing to the somewhat more clement weather I have been out and about quite a bit this week and as you can imagine unusual things are always likely to happen to such a novel creature as myself. So this week Elizabeth and I were standing on the corner of 73rd and Broadway—she was facing west waiting for the light to change and I was facing south because that was the way the wind was blowing—when a gentleman approached us from behind, mistook me for a seeing eye dog and asked Elizabeth if she would like to cross! He quickly realized his mistake and apologized and scooted away but not before the horror of the idea of me as a seeing eye dog implanted itself in Elizabeth’s brain. Not the idea of her being blind, mind you but the idea of me as a Seeing Eye dog. In a flash she saw herself being dragged to snack shops and pet stores all over town as well as to the middle of smelly fields which bore no resemblance to any place she would want to go. My humans discussed it and came to the conclusion that they would be hard pressed to think of a dog more ill suited to that particular job. Of course the point is moot as I can’t even pass a simple obedience test let alone Seeing Eye dog training, but still just the thought of it had Elizabeth reaching for the gin bottle.

I guess as a large, imposing and obviously intelligent looking dog (no judging a book by its cover jokes, please) who is always wearing a harness and frequently wearing a coat of some sort is bound to be mistaken for an animal rendering a service of some type to humanity. It is ironic as I pride myself as being not only useless but seriously inconvenient! But of course it is my humans in their unflattering and drool (and worse) stained clothes who are really rendering service to me. I am thinking of ordering them special Wimsey Service Human vests so people know not to disturb them when they are fetching me water or feeding me snacks or helping me track raccoons and squirrels in The Ramble.

And on Saturday evening Maria and I met Elizabeth at the cross-town bus on her way home from the ASPCA and Saturday’s park popularity continued as we attempted to walk down Broadway. At one point we were stopped by a lovely family of admirers who themselves have a lively young Labrador. One thing led to another and Elizabeth, who helps train shelter dogs, was asked if she would be interested in helping with the Labrador as their current trainer is based in the Hamptons. Of course at the time this conversation was taking place I was attempting to drag Elizabeth over to an outdoor cafĂ© to sample people’s food (the son pointed out that the other trainer said dogs were supposed to walk next to you) and baying and generally acting like I always act when I am bored. In general I am such a poor advertisement for Elizabeth’s training skills that she has considered wearing a t-shirt that says “I’m not his trainer. It’s not my fault.” What can I say—many have tried, none have succeeded. But as I am a Hound there is no shame in failure, only astonishment at success.

But the highlight of the week was undoubtedly yesterday when Elizabeth and I met our friend Nancy and her rapidly growing daughter Alicia in the park for the day. T here is something very analogous about living with a demanding (but cute) two year old and living with a demanding (and also cute) Hound:

We get bored easily

We are oppositional

We are committed to getting our own way

We are manipulative

We have conveniently limited verbal skills

We are messy

Everyone thinks we are unfailingly adorable except those who have to take care of us

We are capricious

Nothing is ever really good enough to truly satisfy us

We are inconveniently curious

We are loud

We produce an unending variety of secretions

Well we all had a lively long tow along the bridle path before Alicia wisely decided that ice cream was required. Now you may remember the last time Alicia had ice cream in my presence she fed it to me and I decided to eat the stick as well. This time Nancy did the feeding and held onto the stick with an iron fist. Then she decided to see if I liked Ritz crackers (yes, I found them quite delicious and crunchy) as Alicia’s stroller comes equipped with all manner of snacks for me to sample. And of course I had much petting and adulation from passersby which only enhanced my gustatory pleasure—I believe people enjoy watching me enjoy my food—probably because the style conscious denizens of New York City subsist principally on lettuce and sushi. So it’s all—“Oh look! Wimsey’s eating Ritz crackers—he doesn’t know how many grams of sodium and how many calories are in them! And that ice cream—it looks delicious but I already used up today’s junk food quota on a cheese doodle.” It was all very delightful—and we sat around for a while until I was able to encourage the finishing up of the sodas so I could precycle the bottles.

Anyway, by the time we reached the west 70s it was already close to 4pm so it was determined that I should visit Nancy’s apartment and then Elizabeth and I would head south in Central Park and meet Maria after work. Now I was only in Nancy’s apartment briefly—had a drink, got fed some chicken strips, slimed a quite modest number of surfaces and shed only a few hairs when Nancy commented that Hounds were messy—this from the mother of a 2 year old is high praise indeed.

Well all too soon it was time to depart and as we headed south it occurred to Elizabeth that as we had been out since 1pm I had missed lunch and might be feeling a bit peckish, so off we headed to the Le Pain Quotidien snack shop in Central Park where she purchased a turkey and gruyere baguette for me. Being hand fed over priced food is one of the extremely gratifying pleasures of New York. Well, having gotten my strength back I towed furiously to the beach volley ball courts (yes Central Park has beach volleyball courts—sand and all, although no dogs are permitted, which does not stop me from trying)—where I parked myself and proceeded to watch this most interesting game.

Now at first Elizabeth was dismayed as she had intended to meet Maria at the very entrance to the park but then she realized that in front of her were a group of very fit young men not wearing a whole lot (they’re at the beach, remember) and she became engrossed in the charm of the game. She patted me and told me I was a good dog. Of course we did have to take the usual breaks so I could be photographed with passing tourists, but such was the interest of the game that Maria was able to sneak up behind us without us noticing. My excuse was that she was down wind.

So that was my week—I like the idea of spending 6 hours in the park. Next week I will have Maria around as she is on vacation and I intend to extort as much park time as possible. Elizabeth will be off Monday to help out at an ASPCA horse and dog adoption event for local rescue groups at the Hampton Classic Horse Show and I am hoping she comes home with a pony for me (or at least some of those yummy byproducts of horse metabolism that one finds on the bridle path).

Until next week,

Wimsey, a Parked Hound

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #180

Entry #180
August 20, 2010

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey coming to you from the lush tropical paradise of Manhattan’s Upper West Side which would be lush if the moisture actually came out of the air to water the brown grass, and would be a paradise if the Hudson River were beachfront property. But it is tropical--a fact that greatly displeases my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth who are both capable of getting sun burned under strong overhead lighting. So they smear themselves with sun block creams which impart a lovely chalky glow to their already pale skin and I am caparisoned (much against my will) in my cooling coat. We all are counting down the days to winter when we will once again be able to complain about the cold weather.

Of course we did have a really nice day on Sunday which meant that I finally got a proper 4 hour walk in Central Park (sans cooling coat) and my humans got a good case of sore feet. And in addition to the usual adulation I also managed to slime a whole row of tourists who were petting me—always a gratifying experience.

And as it cools down a bit here in the evening there has been much carrying on about me leaving the park featuring yours truly throwing himself on the ground and doing his best imitation of an immovable cement block and the ladies pleading that they need to get home before bedtime.

Other than that it has been a very quiet week here—the dog days of August in fact. Of course every day is a dog day as far as I am concerned and a very good thing too. But on this day in 1940, Hound Hero Extraordinaire, Winston Churchill (a man so insubordinate that he is the inspiration to Hounds worldwide) famously said of the Royal Air Force "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." Well this put me in mind of one of my famous daredevil ancestors, Group Captain Sir Archibald Wimsey of the Royal Air Force Flying Drool Squadron who was awarded the Victoria Cross Liver for his most daring exploit:

Sir Archibald: Group Captain Sir Archibald Wimsey here. Squadron BADK9 assume the Filching Hound formation.

Wing Commander St. Hubert: Uh oh lads! This sounds serious. The last time we flew in the Filching Hound formation we took out the entire German Gelato making apparatus.

Sir Archibald: What ho, fellow Hounds, we have been entrusted by His Majesty with our most difficult mission yet. We have been ordered to cripple the enemy’s sausage making capability! I mean what is Germany really without its sausages? It would be like England without her warm beer, fish and chips, toad in the hole or spotted dick! A culinary catastrophe and a place not worth living in!

Wing Commander St. Hubert: But which sausages? The bratwurst, the knockwurst, the weisswurst, the bockwurst, the bierwurst, the braunschweiger…

Sir Archibald: Desist from enumerating the wursts immediately Wing Commander! The drool is interfering with the navigation equipment!

Wing Commander: Sorry Group Captain. But it seems a shame to destroy all those delicious wursts from the air.

Sir Archibald: Nevertheless, we have been ordered to destroy them all lads and it was a natural assumption that as we are pilots we would do it from the air. But we are also Hounds and not necessarily prone to follow orders. Especially where comestibles are concerned.

Wing Commander: A good point. But have you an audacious plan in mind?

Sir Archibald: I am a Hound. I always have audacious plans in mind. All Hound plans are by their nature audacious—our lightening sandwich raids for instance are the stuff of legend. But yes, I do have an audacious plan. The squadron will land in the field adjoining the sausage factory where we will charm the workers with our abundant wrinkles and pleasing personalities and then we will strike! We will carry off the best of the wurst leaving a demoralized, sausage-less enemy. To be outsmarted by a brilliant opponent is one thing but to be outsmarted by a Hound is a humiliation that they will never recover from. In any case, I jolly well expect every Hound to do his duty. What you can’t swallow, steal. And take no prisoners—they're not eatable.

Wing Commander: Bravo Sir Archibald! Nothing like giving Jerry a taste of his own medicine—we lost a precious lot of fish and chips in that daschund raid at Dover last year. Anyway, I know we all appreciate being able to serve with you, although as Hounds perhaps serve is the wrong word.

Sir Archibald: OK, lads, all together a rousing chorus of our national anthem:

God save our Gracious King (and his Hound)

Long live our noble King (and his even more noble Hound)

God save the King (and his magnificent Hound)

Send him victorious (having stolen the tea sandwiches)

Happy and glorious (ly sated and unable to steal even another scone)

Long to reign over us (as Hounds are wont to do)

God save the King (and his increasingly rotund Hound)

Oh Lord our God arise (and look favorably upon the Hound)

Scatter his enemies (especially the squirrels)

And make them fall (into his drooly mouth)

Confound their politics (and their tendency to run really fast)

Frustrate their knavish tricks (like flicking their tails in our faces before they elude us)

On Thee our hopes we fix (it would take a miracle to catch one)

God save us all (except the squirrels)

The choicest gifts in store (especially large hunks of liver)

On him be pleased to pour (salmon is good too)

Long may he reign (with his magnificent Hound at his side eating the ermine trim of his robe)

May he defend our laws (especially leases that allow dogs to live in palaces)

And ever give us cause (with lovely bits of roast chicken)

With heart and voice to sing (and to bay extremely loudly and at inconvenient moments)

God save the King (and his Hound who treats him like the servant he really is)

Well I am quite proud of Sir Archibald and his lively nature has been passed down in the ancestral DNA until it reached me, much to the dismay of my unfortunate humans.

OK, well this will be a short post today owing to the fact that I decided to chase Maria around a field like a maniac this evening and must prepare myself for the wrestling match I intend to instigate later—I make up for my mid-day heat induced torpidity with my spirited evening activities. In retrospect the ladies might look back on this hot summer with an unexpected fondness, as every year they seem amazed anew at the emergence of the Wimsey Fall Frisky Follies that feature pulled muscles (theirs) and bruises (also theirs) aplenty.

But before I leave for the week, it is axiomatic that all manner of strange things are to be seen in Manhattan. I commend to your attention two of this week’s haul: a dune buggy parked on West 82nd Street (maybe there are beaches on the Hudson) and corn plants growing tall in a tree pit on my block. With respect to this latter phenomenon Maria informed Elizabeth that she noticed a very strange looking weed growing in the tree pits and that on reflection she thought it might resemble one of those plants that we saw whilst driving on our recent trip through the Midwest. Such is the botanical knowledge of the New Yorker where food grows at Fairway. Of course why somebody planted the corn and what they intend to do with it is an enduring mystery.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a chip off the jolly old block

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #179

Entry #179
August 13, 2010

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where the summer heat and humidity are hanging on with the tenacity of a Hound with the stolen Sunday roast. And it is Friday 13th today to boot! I always expect good luck to come to me on these days since as a Hound I specialize in all things oppositional and contrarian.

Well the big news around here is that my human Maria, assisted by her friend Elizabeth has been scouring the neighborhood for a new apartment. Things are not going well owing to the ridiculous prices and lack of inventory. Also, apparently the presence of a large Hound is not considered an attractive attribute by landlords. This has led the ladies to put together a landlord photo montage of me acting charming and looking cute, which is to say it’s just a regular a photo montage of me as I am seldom looking anything but charming and cute. And my show dog credentials are being touted as people seem to feel that show dogs are some vastly superior type of dog, possessing none of the inconvenient habits of those lesser non-show dog canines. Personally it is a great source of satisfaction to me that my humans have to laud my sterling qualities and insist on the fact that I am extremely well behaved. Fortunately no one ever asks for a precise definition of well behaved.
During my recent road trip I amazed and astonished the world with this supposed well behaved-ness puzzling my humans until they realized that of course I was well behaved—no one told me I couldn’t do anything that I wanted to do. Mystery solved. And with respect to all things that matter to the outside world—house soiling and indoor baying for instance—I am exceedingly well behaved. However, with respect to all things that matter to those who have to live with me I am most decidedly not. After all, it doesn’t bother the neighbors when I stick my nose in people’s food or fling drool in my human’s faces or snuffle them in the middle of the night with a wet muzzle or strongly insist that whichever way they want to walk I want to walk the opposite way, etc., etc. and more etc. (my fine Houndly attributes being too numerous to list).

Well if things don’t pick up on the real estate front the ladies are thinking of launching a contest to Find Maria and Wimsey a New Home with a generous cash prize and photos in this blog. Elizabeth, a former Wall Street denizen is of the Gordon Gekko-esque opinion that “greed is good when harnessed to find a suitable place for a Hound to live.”

And speaking of picking up, I realized last week that I omitted to discuss the crucial last step of my road trip—the de-Hounding of the rental car. Now my humans pride themselves on their ability to eradicate all traces of me from borrowed vehicles, so for those of you out there with similar issues, here is what they do:
1) use many rolls of wide clear exceedingly sticky packing tape to pick up hair from car interior
2) use a stiff suede brush and/or Resolve to remove drool stains from upholstery (the ladies long for cars upholstered in drool resistant Plether, but so far no luck)
3) remove drool stains from non-upholstered surfaces with Simple Green, Windex or similar
4) Go over car with hand held vacuum
5) Febreze interior within an inch of its life
6) Consume a large cocktail. (It's astonishing how many activities involving me require the consuming of a large cocktail).
Of course it does help that my humans also drape the interior of the car with sheets, which in addition to keeping at least some Hound hair at bay, provides a nice, soft surface for the delicate Wimsey posterior.

Anyway, questions of real estate have proven so all consuming that I barely have had any time to catch up on the news. But I, like everyone else in the world, did read about the Jet Blue flight attendant who quit his job in a rather spectacular fashion. It made me think about:

The Jet Blue Invitational Dog Show

Judge: You in the butt ugly green clothes with the big t***. Don’t keep me the f*** waiting. Bring that big black and tan s**-o*-*-b**** over here.
Elizabeth: You do realize that calling Wimsey a son-of-a bitch is not an insult right?
Judge: None of your f****** lip b****. And speaking of lip where the f*** is your drool rag?! The son of a bitch slimed me!
Elizabeth: Sorry about that but Wimsey can produce a pint of drool in a nanosecond. It’s one of his many special talents.
Judge: Well clearly keeping his f****** feet in one place is not. He’s a piece of s*** as a show dog.
Elizabeth: I wouldn’t say those words too loudly—Wimsey might provide a visual demonstration. Drool is not the only thing he has a prodigious capacity to produce.
Judge: Yeah, well if he does that I’m gonna f****** excuse his a**. Not a bad looking Hound though. I like a dog with f****** big b*******!
Elizabeth: What are bollocks?
Judge: Sorry. I’ve been judging at Crufts too long. In America they’re b****.
Elizabeth: Yes, they are much admired. Too bad points aren’t awarded for nice ones. I’m sure Wimsey’s could win Westminster with them.
.Judge: What the f*** is the big b****** doing that for!
Elizabeth: He always bays his approbation when people admire his testicles.
Judge: Well tell the m*********** to shut the f*** up and get his f****** a** down and back.
Elizabeth: Let’s go Wimsey!
Judge: What the f*** kind of a gait do you call that!
Elizabeth: We call it the trop—kind of a combination of a trot and a pace. I’m afraid it’s the closest thing to a trot that he does. I could get him to gallop if you like.
Judge: Shut the f*** up! I don’t want hear or see any more of these f****** Hounds! You can take this s***** job and shove it up you’re a**! I’m outta here. I’m gonna go get a stiff drink and then judge some f****** obedient Golden Retrievers.
Elizabeth: Wimsey, how many times have I told you, p****** on the judge’s leg is not polite!

Well, you get the idea. Of course, I too have a foul mouth—it’s just that it’s filled with slime and miscellaneous organic matter instead of curses. Well I think that’s all for this week—the heat and humidity mean that I spend far more time indoors than I would like so I am fervently hoping that cooler more Hound friendly weather is on the way. Also that a new apartment is found so that Elizabeth stops leaving me alone in the afternoons---napping is just not the same without someone admiring me whilst I sleep.

Until next time,
Wimsey, one f******* great Hound