August 5, 2011
Hello Everyone, it’s me Wimsey coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where the dog days of summer are better known as the Hound days of Wimsey. I have just come back from another one of my marathon vet visit$ where my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have hauled my giant tush to
find out why I am not as frisky as I normally am. And as per usual the visit featured a finger up the bum—my vet prides himself on his extra long fingers—where everything that you would expect to find with a (long) finger up the bum was present and correct. And also as usual I had a perfectly normal physical exam leaving all concerned to scratch their heads and order the GNP of a small nation’s worth of tests. Is it any wonder that I am such a popular character at the vet’s?! And since I have recently had a bath I didn’t even stink, which I am sure they found very disappointing. The fact that I don’t particularly like hot summer weather does not seem to have occurred to anyone—but if it had I am sure there would be an expensive test for it.
Anyway, this Sunday I was out and about as usual and was accompanied by Maria’s former colleague Tony (aka Uncle Tony) who at least had the good manners to buy me a water bottle to play with. And then as has become usual in the summer we headed into The Ramble (the cool and forest-y section of Central Park) where the humans sat and talked about trivial matters like the world debt crisis whilst admiring me as I napped. Then having refreshed myself we all sallied forth so I could entertain the day’s crop of tourists and my humans could explain to my admirers at great length why getting one of me is inadvisable.
And speaking of which, we do get queries from time to time about various Houndish issues—like how to teach the Hound to lie down (you don’t) or stop it playing with bees (my humans advise carrying an epi-pen or a supply of Benadryl). This week we received a request from young Remington Hound’s humans about his propensity to dig up the yard in pursuit of gophers and crash through their back screen door. My human counseled that the only thing that she has ever found capable of modifying Hound behavior is walking us to exhaustion. Effective yes, but creative no. Perhaps instead of excoriating Remington for his quite natural desire to annihilate gophers his humans should instead consider setting up a miniature golf course using his handiwork. Or perhaps they could see who can draw the best picture by connecting the holes or invent a game where balls are tossed into them. And as far as Remington’s non-traditional house entry habits, they could learn to appreciate the health giving benefits of fresh air and the importance of bugs to the ecosystem or else convert their back door into a dog door.
Here in New York City of course all my Houndish behaviors have proven to be a great social boon—there is no better way to get up close and personal and make new friends than by wiping my drool off of people’s clothing and body parts (my humans carry wipes specifically for this purpose). And it’s hard to be socially overlooked when you are accompanied by a giant Hound who swipes people’s water bottles. (It would be embarrassing enough if I wanted the bottle for actual hydration purposes instead of using it as a chew toy). My vociferous baying of course attracts much social attention as does my very favorite icebreaker, the cold nose in the butt. So you see, my humans have used my assortment of undesirable behaviors creatively to their social advantage. So much wiser than trying to obliterate them which they have learned would be a serious waste of time and energy.
This week my human Maria showed true understanding when she sagely opined that at the end of the day the Bloodhound is a dog that is specifically bred not to listen to you. So really why should humans be surprised when we don’t. My kind were bred to heed only our noses and to block out any other extraneous stimuli, such as human voices. The best way to find that juicy boar is for you to listen to me, not the other way around. The fact that for the most part the need to find juicy boar is no longer part of our job description is wholly beside the point. Gophers and the neighbor’s cat will do just fine.
And speaking of uncooperative canines, my humans (who are devoted followers of the six Siberian Huskies of The Thundering Herd-www.thethunderingherd.com) consider that Bloodhounds and Siberians are a brilliant example of convergent evolution. For although our common ancestor is far back in evolutionary time we have independently evolved many similar and laudable characteristics. In the annals of disobedient and destructive (although very cute) canines we are really in a class by ourselves. We both have a loud, distinctive vocal styles that we employ with some regularity, we both shed copious quantities of fur, we both have an independent nature that makes the wishes of our humans superfluous, we both thoroughly enjoy a good tear-up, especially of materials not belonging to us, we both love out vittles and think the stolen ones taste best and we both will run away if left to our own devices (although Sibes favor a straight point to point escape style while we Bloodhounds like to go off in seemingly random directions wherever the scent takes us).
But better yet, we both assume the guise of well-behaved dogs in the presence of outsiders thus making our humans look foolish when they tell people that we are not. I am sure the humans of the Thundering Herd love hearing about how well behaved their dogs are just as much as my humans do. (Elizabeth has fostered and worked with Siberians at the animal shelter and has fond memories of taking one on live national television—pictures of the event show her with a frozen smile and a death grip on the collar of the lively young fellow). About the only difference is that Sibes lack our potent odiferous qualities.
Now for suitably motivated (and crazy) humans Bloodhounds and Siberians are a fine choice. We personify entertainment (usually our own and at your expense, but you will have some great stories) and we make our otherwise innocuous humans conspicuous and famous (or notorious). There is no denying that we are both distinctive and striking looking breeds. But it would be seriously unwise to judge us by how cute we are. Hard as it is to believe I have been mistaken by people looking at me for an intelligent, mellow, loyal, protective, affectionate (giving, not receiving—I’m big on receiving when in the mood), obedient, well behaved, easy to train, attentive, devoted, quiet, non-shedding, and lazy dog. Telling people otherwise is often akin to telling a child there is no Santa Claus.
Anyway, I can’t think what brought all this on—probably the fear that my good looks might encourage people who don’t enjoy telling humorous stories about all the bad things their dogs have done and who don’t enjoy spending the preponderance of their free time being dragged about outdoors to acquire a fine specimen such as myself. That and the fact that nothing particularly ridiculous happened this week. And they say August is the silly season.
But I am considering starting a Dear Wimsey column for exasperated Hound owners so keep those emails coming (email@example.com)
Until next time,
Wimsey, Good Hound, Bad Dog