October 14, 2011
Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from the still distinctly non-autumnal Upper West Side of Manhattan where it has seemed more like weather for my cooling coat than for my fleece. All of which is making my cool-weather loving human Maria and her equally frostophile friend Elizabeth plenty unhappy. But before I discuss the week, I want to announce that there will be no blog post next week owing to a schedule conflict. I don’t want anyone out there thinking that something dire has happened to me or to my humans-- although dire things like—baths-- do happen to me periodically and cuts, scrapes and abrasions do happen to my humans more than periodically.
So let’s see—on Sunday we had 82-degree weather and our walk, although lengthy, was mercifully uneventful—no bloody elbows or dragging Elizabeth into the Lake or such like. I did engage in my latest hobby, hunting down bits of revolting things to eat which caused my humans beaucoup d’aggravation, especially as they never have any idea of what I’ve actually scarfed. The only thing they are sure of is that it isn’t alive (probably) and that it will all come out in the end, eventually and messily. And we also did meet a family from North Carolina this week who have an 18 month old bloodhound and were thrilled to see me, even though I was busy baying at a piece of bread that I was being prevented from eating at the time.
They wanted to know when their dog would stop chewing up stuff. When my humans finished laughing and could breathe again they explained that that happy event would occur sometime around the First of Never.
Which reminds me, that in spite of the fact that Elizabeth claims to prefer all other breeds to bloodhounds on account of minor details like our attitude and behavior not to mention our perfectly normal bodily functions like the ubiquitous nature of our drool and the pervasive odor of Hound that we spread about with great liberality, she seems to spend a ridiculous amount of time staying up late looking at pictures of other people’s Hounds on Facebook. And someone posted 50 delightful pictures of young bloodhounds competing at a dog show and they were behaving in a way that I (if not Elizabeth) has fond memories of. Now I know that some of you don’ t really know much about dog shows so I thought I would present:
Wimsey’s Guide to Dog Showing
I Before the Ring
Clothing: One of the first things that happens is that one of your humans (in my case, Elizabeth) changes into clothing that flatters you but sadly not them. These clothes are supposed to look neat and professional so consequently the first job of a show bloodhound is to make sure that by the time you and your human enter the ring these clothes are imbued with the maximum amount of drool, mud and any other bodily fluid you can find to smear on them. For your clothing, you will miraculously be divested of all weapons of Hound oppression, including no pull harnesses, gentle leaders, haltis, etc. and instead will sport the thinnest of leather slip leads (aka The String) by which your human will attempt (unsuccessfully) to control your movements. The sense of sudden liberation is so intoxicating that it is suggested that a second human be present to help sit on you should you feel unable to contain your high spirits.
Pre-Ring Assembly: You and your fellow Hounds will be waiting ringside for the previous class to end. I find this is an excellent time to resist last minute grooming attempts by playing spirited games of tug of war with the towels and drool rags and to loudly introduce myself to my fellow Hounds, the judge and everyone else trying to watch the class currently in the ring. You know that you are having a successful pre-ring assembly if your humans have to sit on you.
II The Ring
The entrance: When instructed by show officials all Hounds enter the ring one behind the other and trot to their designated places. Although this is the judge’s first chance to get a look at you it is also your first chance to stick your nose into the butt of the Hound ahead of you.
The stack: Once the Hounds are arranged in a line their handlers place their feet in the optimum position to show off their body lines to the judge. The placing of the feet is known as the stack. The unplacing of the feet is known as stack dancing and is a good way to make a big impression on the judge as well as to make your human look like an idiot.
The wait: Now you must wait around whilst each Hound is brought up individually for the judge to inspect. It is the most boring part of the show but you can make it exciting by singing, flinging drool on people seated ringside, trying to climb out of the ring and pouncing on the dogs next to you.
The examination: Finally! You are brought up and presented to the judge. Traditionally this involves being stacked in front of the judge while they stare at you critically, run their hands along your body, lift your flews to look at your teeth and squeeze your testicles for good luck. But judges often have many interesting smells on them so I prefer the non-traditional approach of critically running my nose along the judge’s body, drooling on the judge when they lift my flews and poking my muzzle into their naughty bits for good luck. But it is also imperative to establish friendly relations with judges by first giving them an ear splitting “howdy” and then showing off one’s exemplary stack dancing skills.
The down and back: After all that standing around you are now supposed to gait from the judge to other end of the ring and back. Technically the trot is the only acceptable gait but I like to give the down and back a little individual flair by using both legs on the same side of my body. This is known as pacing and it is my personal tribute to Frankenstein whom I am said to resemble strongly when I do it.
Free stack: When stopping, in front of the judge after the down and back most humans think it is a nice touch for you to stop in the flattering stacked position all on your own without their assistance. But as this is very predictable and boring I developed a repertoire of alternative free stack positions known as: the stalk, the jump, the belly rub and of course my classic trademark, the bay.
Once around: Finally you will get to go around the ring—sometimes on your own, sometimes with everyone else. The judge is supposed to be taking one last look at you but if you’re me you really have a pretty good idea of what they already think of you so the once around is an excellent time to put your nose on the ground and vacuum up all those little bits of food the humans have been using to reward their dogs. If there is nothing interesting on the ground moving your head from side to side to catch air currents can also be a rewarding use of your time. This would destroy your body line if you were trotting, but I usually like to take this part at the gallop. It’s good exercise for my human, who owing to the fact that she just has a piece of string around my neck, has to chase after me to avoid being pulled over. It’s pretty popular with the crowd too.
The Decision: Once again everyone will be stacked (or not) in a line and the judge will point to the winners. It is ring etiquette for the losers to congratulate the winners. So I do. Repeatedly and at high volume.
The most amazing thing about bloodhounds in a show ring is that sometimes I was not even the worst one. Usually but not always. Maria remembers seeing one Hound decide to roach in the middle of its down and back. I am sure Elizabeth has many fond memories of our time in the ring when she looks at all these Facebook pictures. She always seems to enjoy an extra large celebratory glass of gin afterwards.
And speaking of memories, let us not forget that today is the anniversary of The Battle of Hastings in 1066. The most important consequence of the Battle of Hastings was not the conquest of the Saxons or the beginning of a thousand years of enmity between the British and the French, but William the Conqueror’s introduction of the bloodhound to England. My humans think he has a lot to answer for. Even for a medieval knight.
And on the subject of memories of a more recent kind, those of you who read this diary may remember that I was asked to be part of a wedding photo in Central Park. The happy couple sent me a picture! Of course, it would have been better if I could have been part of the actual ceremony but I suppose I will have to wait for one of my humans to tie the knot.
Wimsey’s White (ish) Wedding
Spectator 1: The wedding is about to begin! Here come the flower girls!
Spectator 2: One of them is spreading rose petals, but what is the other one doing?
Spectator 1: She’s spraying Febreze.
Spectator 2: Why?
Spectator 1: Wimsey is giving the bride away.
Spectator: But bloodhounds don’t give things away, they take things away.
Spectator 2: Normally, yes, but Wimsey’s view is that he isn’t losing a human he’s gaining another personal assistant. Also he says looking forward to adding athletic supporters to his bra collection.
Spectator 1: The music is great but I didn’t know the Wedding March had a baying part. Look here comes Wimsey!
Spectator 2: Yes and that white leash doesn’t look very sturdy. Probably part of his show lead collection.
Spectator 1: Well I know some brides have to be dragged to the altar, but I’ve never seen it done literally.
Spectator 2: What an interesting dress Maria is wearing. Is it Vera Wang?
Spectator 1: No it’s LL Bean. It’s made of Gortex. They guaranteed it against drool.
Spectator 2: Too bad about everyone else’s clothes though. Wimsey’s flews seemed filled with emotion.
Spectator 1: OK is that the poor sap she’s marrying—the one Wimsey just poked in the crotch?
Spectator 2: Yes that’s him. Poor devil.
Clergyman: Who giveth this woman?
Spectator 1: I guess the thunderous baying and the fact that Wimsey pulled Maria over means he does.
Clergyman: Dearly Beloved Hound and all the rest of you, we are gathered together to join Maria and This Guy Whose Name No One Will Ever Remember Because He’s With Wimsey in matrimony, which is an honorable estate and should not be entered into lightly especially when a very large, intrusive, annoying, smelly, demanding, expensive, drool-flinging, entitled, stubborn, and acquisitive Hound is involved. If anybody knows any impediment to this union (apart from the presence of a large, intrusive, annoying, smelly, demanding, expensive, drool-flinging, entitled, stubborn and acquisitive Hound) speak now or hold your peace until the “I told you so” at the divorce. OK then. Do you, Maria take this guy and his vet bill paying bank account to try to have and to try to hang onto in spite of the fact that you will always love Wimsey better from this day forward?
Maria: Yes. Wimsey be quiet I can answer for myself.
Spectator 2: What happened to the sickness and in health and for richer or poorer part.
Spectator 1: Wimsey ate that page.
Clergyman: Do you, Misguided Idiot, take this normally Hound smelling, badly dressed and disheveled woman who will make you spend hours in the park being dragged around by her Hound whose poop you will have collect from the middle of bramble bushes and who is going to sit on you when you want to watch TV and shove you off the bed when you try to sleep to thy wedded wife?
Maria: He said yes. It’s hard to hear above the baying.
Clergyman: What a shame. But my brother-in-law is a good divorce lawyer. Anyway, by the power vest in me, etc., I pronounce you man, wife and Hound. You may now give the Hound a belly rub. Maybe that will shut him up.
Well you get the idea. Maybe I should send my humans on one of those makeover shows. Anyway, it has been a quiet week around here. I got a bath on Sunday and I seemed to have flooded the bathroom and flung hair on the ceiling to an even greater degree than normal as evidenced by the fact the ladies drank cocktails to a greater degree than normal. And I am now on both Flagyl and Baytril for six weeks to try and finally knock out this pesky infection I have. I don’t feel all that great on the meds but on the positive side my turkey swallowing-pill spitting skills have improved considerably. So I will be resting up this week—or at least so my humans hope. A resting Wimsey may not be a happy Wimsey but it certainly makes my humans’ life easier. And in the meantime they have all those show pictures to reminisce about.
Until next time,
Wimsey, the Conqueror