January 7, 2011
Hello Everyone, it’s me Wimsey coming to you on this snowy Friday on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where as usual I have been holding court among the city’s admiring denizens. What can I say—to see me is to want to photograph me, touch me or feed me your lunch. Such is the destiny of an eye catchingly attractive Hound such as myself. But I am also enjoying the wintry climactic conditions aided and abetted by the fact that December’s blizzard caused mounds of garbage bags to accumulate on the streets—all of which clearly present a urinary challenge to a male Hound too good not be taken full advantage of. And I am also finally having my way with those Christmas trees—apparently being horizontal robs them of their magical powers.
As you can see, I am wearing my new snow suit (aka the Speedo) so when the red one is wet I have a dry one to use. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth believe that this new one makes make me look like a character from the movie, Tron and it is accordingly now known as the Tron Speedo. I think being a character in Tron sounds pretty good.
Tron: Wimsey’s Legacy
Maria: My computer has been acting weird lately.
Computer guy: Well at least you didn’t spill coffee on it triggering an airborne terrorist alert. So how weird could your problem be?
Maria: You’ll see.
Computer guy: OK, let’s turn it on. Does it always make that noise? Must wake the neighbors.
Maria: Yes. It only stops when I type in the word “turkey”
Computer guy: OK. Well let’s do some routine things like going to weather.com. Hmm… I don’t ever think I’ve seen a report quite like this—“chance of raccoons 20%, squirrel activity index: high 6am-9am tapering
off throughout the day, winds out of the northwest at 10 miles per hour bringing the strong scent of that intact female from 93rd street, estimated chance of annoying photography less than 20% due to bright sunlight, temperature 40 degrees creating conditions safe from the forcible wearing of apparel, chance of towel massage due to muddy park conditions 40%, food toting tourist density index: 50%, small child food snatching index: 30%, chance of picnickers: 0%, Hound petting index: high….
Maria: Did you get to the part where it displays a leash icon and demands a walk? If you don’t close the weather report before that shows up the computer starts baying again.
Computer guy: Well how about MapQuest?
Maria: Bad idea. No matter what address I put in it shows me the way to a pet store.
Computer guy: Yahoo finance?
Maria: The price of bully stick futures.
Computer guy: Yelp?
Maria: Reviews of gelato stands.
Computer guy: Amazon?
Maria: Cookbooks for dogs.
Computer guy: Wikipedia?
Maria: The history of the bloodhound.
Computer guy: Orbitz?
Maria: 5 star hotels that accept dogs.
Computer guy: Ask.com
Maria: Well you can ask, but the only answer you get is about Hounds.
Computer guy: How about social networking sites?
Maria: The only one you’re allowed to network with is Wimsey. He is very chatty, but it’s a very limiting social circle.
Computer guy: Well how about your work files?
Maria: When I try to access those I get an error message saying that I am attempting an illegal operation. And my Excel files are now spreadsheets and graphs that seem to be about poop production and the parts of a cow.
Computer guy: I also see he’s been busy writing emails to Cesar Millan and challenging him to a duel.
Maria: Yes, Wimsey ate too many 19th century novels as a puppy.
Computer guy: Well you clearly have no control over your computer. We need to find a way to force Wimsey out of cyberspace and back into the real world.
Maria: On second thought, let’s leave him in there. Having no control over your computer is a big improvement over having no control over your life!
I think that I could have a lot of fun in cyberspace—eating files and disrupting operations and so forth-- as long as I didn’t have to wear that Tron suit all the time.
Anyway, we had a bit of real excitement here this week. Big cities can be dangerous places and this Sunday I was mugged by a retriever who bit my ear—it all happened so quickly that Maria was unable to determine whether the perp was the flat coat who lives in Elizabeth’s building who has beef with me or some other canine criminal of the Labrador persuasion.
The attack happened down the street from Elizabeth’s building, so she was swiftly summoned and arrived in the lobby armed with cotton balls, Neosporin and turkey (essential items of Hound first aid). Fortunately the doorman had obtained a roll of paper towels which was quickly applied along with the turkey to stop the bleeding in a very satisfactorily gustatory manner.
On Monday morning I was hustled over to the vet’s for some stitches and antibiotics which very conveniently have to be taken with food, which very conveniently means that I get scrambled eggs at pill time to make sure I have a meal (generally I am a free feeding kind of Hound—often to be heard loudly crunching kibble at unsociable hours by my sleep deprived humans) And of course this means that my humans are extra indulgent, although exactly how stretches the imagination. It has been somehow deemed
contrary to my recovery that I be hauled out of the park in anything resembling a normal amount of time and I must admit I have been especially insistent this week about the extensive nature of my afternoon park walks. In fact so much so that I barely have time for a spot of lunch and a kip before it’s time for the next one! And Elizabeth had to submit my vet bills to my long-suffering insurance company (Embrace Insurance which I highly recommend) and had to answer their questions about what happened (the “this time” being implied). I’m a legend over there. Anyway, all things considered, I’m thinking that perhaps I can hire this rogue retriever to give me a little nip now and then.
As you can tell, it can generally be said of me that I have trained my humans well and preparatory to the TV show offer that I am expecting any day, I have started to compile some of my best commands. They are of a necessity non-verbal but that by no means makes them any less effective. Here are a few of my favorites:
Wimsey’s Human Training Lexicon
The Cookie Face (stationary): This is a stare, frequently accompanied by a suggestive licking of the muzzle and is meant to convey the desire to be hand fed a cookie. It is a versatile command and can also be adapted to be a Pizza Face, a Gelato Face or a Chinese Takeout Face. When combined with vigorous baying it morphs into that Wimsey classic, the Water Bottle Face. For those Zoolander fans out there it has often been compared to Blue Steel. I think of it as Hound Steel.
The Cookie Face (ambulatory): In this plein air maneuver I use the Cookie Face but move sideways like a giant Hound Crab in order to both achieve forward momentum and maintain the eye contact necessary to achieve the full force of the Cookie Face. Being fed cookies whilst one is out and about is a most gratifying to the largest number of senses and it is one of my best-loved commands. The Cookie Face (ambulatory) has the added benefit of delaying undesirable homeward journeys, especially when combined with a panoply of other tactics such as laborious sniffing, extensive marking, standing still, walking in the opposite direction and greeting passersby.
I Want Water: This is an excellent command (and is also a helpful delaying tactic) and involves towing over to a fountain and refusing to move. In Spring, Summer and Autumn I am watered from the fountain using the portable bowl my humans must carry at all times and in the winter from the canteens that they carry strapped over their bodies (or should I say over their thick down Hounding jackets, since when they are wearing them it is not at all clear that they have bodies).
The “Why is there just kibble in this bowl of kibble” face: This is my lunchtime ritual face over at Elizabeth’s wherein I follow her about after we come in from our afternoon walk and stare fixedly at her—or at the refrigerator if we are in the kitchen-- until suitable fixings are added to my dish.
Walking Equipment Extortion: I employ this ritual no matter how much I want to go out. It is a matter of Hound Principle (otherwise known as the “pay the toll to the troll” rule) that if my humans want my cooperation they must pay for it. In order for it to be especially effective (or aggravating, depending on your point of view), I first pester a human to go out. As they are getting ready, I lie down and make snorey noises. When approached with a piece of equipment I roll over indicating the desire for a belly rub. After this is completed I allow (sometimes) my collar to be put on. Next, the harness is presented. I remain inert. A cookie is then proffered. If it appeals to me I rise and permit myself to be harnessed as I munch. If not, I remain immobile and employ the “What Else You Got” face. This will result in the offer of a play session with my Squeaky Dog. If I sense my human is in a hurry, I eschew the dog in the expectation that a piece of turkey will most certainly be forthcoming. Of course I also make use of the Chase Me command when gentle leaders, haltis or coats appear. If I am feeling especially obnoxious I revert to lying down, rolling over and repeating the whole cycle for each piece of equipment.
Prepare to Be Boarded: This command alerts the human to the fact that their lap or the space next to them on the couch is now required and will shortly be occupied by a giant Hound. The command involves approaching the seated human (preferably as they are trying to do something on a laptop or read the papers or talk on the phone) and swish my tail in a long, low movement. This signal alerts them to the fact that unless they want my tush to call their nearest and dearest or to otherwise crush, crumple and mutilate whatever is on the couch, they would be well advised to clear the decks sharpish. The Prepare to Be Boarded Command is often followed by the “Thwack” command which indicates an urgent need to be scratched (preferably with both hands).
Anyway, I am sure my human training prowess is one of the many reasons that my humans cringe when someone comments on how well behaved I am. Like everything else, it depends on your point of view. (As an aside, it cracks me up when some stranger we’ve just met on the street looks at me and tells me to sit. They clearly know nothing about dog breeds as they expect something to happen other than a blank stare. Telling a bloodhound sit is a lot like telling a guard a Buckingham Palace to smile—a futile and unrewarding exercise more entertaining for onlookers than for the participants).
Well I will leave it there for this week. We are expecting intermittent (but sadly light) snow for some of the week so am intending to engage in a pre-snow towing napathon.
Until next week,
Wimsey, a commanding presence