November 25, 2011
Hello Everyone, it’s me Wimsey, coming to you from the turkey saturated borough of Manhattan on New York’s Upper West Side where the long weekend is in full swing, replete with Hound loving tourists and some really fine weather. Such was not the case earlier in the week which found my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth slogging through rainy, muddy fields in Central Park trying to prevent yours truly from indulging himself with a refreshing spa treatment mud bath. And all the leaves, which are slippery at the best of times (the lubriciousness of leaves being not generally appreciated unless one is attached to 125 pounds of rollicking Hound), take on an extra accident inducing potential in the rain.
I think my humans should consider themselves lucky that I am not one of those finicky canines who objects to prolonged perambulations merely because of a few raindrops. The sodden ground brings up scent to an amazing degree, substantially enhancing my already impressive hunting prowess. These conditions allowed me to hone in rapidly on a small, unused carton of milk which I was able to liberate from a park bench, puncture with my mighty incisors, squish with my powerful stick snapping jaws and then lap up the milk with my long and frog-like tongue. My mesmerized humans stared in amazement—they did not know that I had the intelligence to carry out such a complex operation but comforted themselves with the thought that I probably did it by accident. Harrumph. They should know by now that we Wimseys, while not the sharpest card in the deck when it comes to such pointless trivialities as “sit” and “stay,” are highly adept when suitably motivated and we can bring considerable neuronal wattage to bear on obtaining the things that are important to us. (Maria still tells the story of one of my predecessors who pushed a chair across a room so she could stand on it to reach a desirable bag of flour).
But speaking of sit and stay (not), Elizabeth finally realized that I have become the master of the following sequence of events:
1. I strike an entertaining or adorable pose.
2. Elizabeth whips out her camera in a stealthy manner.
3. She points the camera in my general direction.
4. She turns on the camera.
5. I hear the characteristic whoosh of the lens being deployed.
6. I decide that you can’t have too many pictures of my tush.
7. Elizabeth directs Maria to wrangle me so as to recreate the scene.
8. I decide to either a) shake b) lick my nose c) bay d) sniff something on the ground e) scratch, f) turn my head sideways g) drop my head below my shoulders (the vulture pose) h) point my nose skywards (the nostril pose) i) roll on the ground j) walk away k) lift my leg.
This behavior engenders much of the yelling, squealing, lamenting and declarations of “I hate you.” that are a regular feature of our walks. Why people think it is a good thing to have an intelligent dog is an enduring mystery to my humans.
But as I mentioned, I have come in for much touristic admiration this week (as well as pleas from bored, overworked salespeople on Broadway to drop by and provide them with some much needed Black Friday entertainment) and my humans have been the subjects of many adjurations as to the importance of feeding me copious quantities of turkey. Meeting and greeting the world is one of the (few) perks of living with a magnificent Hound such as myself and although it is not much compensation for having no life and no bank account, it is at least something.
But then there is a category of people who get up my humans’ nose (everything gets up my nose, but not exactly in the same way) by offering unflattering commentary on my dynamic walking style. This week, as we zoomed along--me in front, nose to the ground, my humans trailing in pursuit—some bozo commented “Looks like he’s in charge.” This is in addition to the perennial “who’s walking who” (hard to say whether it’s the ignorance of grammar or the ignorance of Hounds that annoys my humans most). Sadly, in these circumstances my humans seldom have the time (or the ability) to stop and explain 1) that it’s “who’s walking whom” and 2) that historically the Hound follows its nose, humans follow the Hound and at the end of it all there is plenty of juicy boar to go around. Juicy boar are not found by heeling Hounds. (Cesar Millan has a lot to answer for). We may live in the 21st century where juicy boar can be obtained shrink wrapped at the supermarket but my genes are firmly lodged way back when when following me was a necessary requirement for obtaining alimentary sustenance. In any case, you would think my harness and 20 foot leash would give people a clue that heeling was perhaps not the object of the exercise.
Now several months ago it was announced that scientists had reconstructed the genes of the bacteria that was responsible for the bubonic plague and for wiping out a third of Europe. Consequently, I think it should be possible to reconstruct the genes of the original bloodhound:
Scientist #1: Eureka! We have successfully reconstructed this ancient bloodhound!
Scientist #2: Didn’t they do that with dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? I don’t think it turned out so well.
Scientist #1: I’m sure this will be different. What could go wrong—he’s so cute!
Scientist #2: Well remember that when you are cleaning up all those puddles—he seems determined to mark the entire laboratory.
Scientist #1: Ah yes, he is just making himself feel at home, covering his territory with familiar scent. Very characteristic. I’m told at the court of Pepin the Short there wasn’t a clean tapestry to be found.
Scientists #2: And speaking of scent, I know medieval hygienic conditions were primitive, but he smells.
Scientist #1: Of course he smells---he’s a bloodhound—but technically speaking, the correct phrase is “he stinks.” But back where he’s from everybody stank so he probably evolved a more pungent stink to get himself noticed. And he could give free rein to stench development unimpeded by the threat of a bath.
Scientist #2: Well apparently he also steals. Wasn’t that the bag with your lunch in it?
Scientist #1: Yes. Tuna. A meat the ancient Hound would have been unfamiliar with yet he ate it anyway. Interesting. He seems to have an innate understanding of what is edible.
Scientists #2: Not necessarily, he’s just eaten your cell phone.
Scientist #1: Perhaps it simulates the crunching bones of his ancient prey. What a fascinating window on history he is!
Scientist #2: Or perhaps he’s just destructive on general principle. Yikes! What’s that noise he’s making. He sounds like a severely displeased walrus! It’s hurting my ears!
Scientist #1: Wow! He is instinctively vocalizing at the exact wavelength capable of producing the maximum amount of auricular pain!
Scientist #2: Well that’s not the only way he causes pain—he just poked me in the crotch and I’m not wearing a cup. And his drool has left a wet stain in a very difficult to explain place.
Scientist #1: I expect he’s just telling us he could use a walk.
Scientist #2: Perhaps that’s why he has started making that hole in the wall.
Scientist #1: Dagobert, come! Come Dagobert! Walkies! Viens ici Dagobert! Allons-y!
Scientist #2: I don’t think he can hear you. Maybe he’s deaf.
Scientist #1: No, I think he probably speaks an archaic French.
Scientist #2: Here, well let’s leash him up while he’s busy shredding today’s paper.
Scientist # 1: Yet another unfamiliar substance that he seems to have taken to immediately! Did you know that historians believe that Pepin the Short was actually called Pepin the Short of Clothing With No Holes and Drool In It and that the king’s Hounds were forbidden access to the royal scriptorium? Now I know why.
Scientist #2: Well they should also have forbidden his entry into the royal gardens—look what he’s done to the dean’s rose bush!
Scientist #1: Such versatility! Perhaps he used this ability to steal edible plants from the peasants. Observing this Hound’s ancient ways is like traveling through time.
Scientist #2: Or like traveling to that gelato stand over there. I very much doubt they had gelato at the court of Pepin the Short. And I have bad news for you. According to Professor Wimsey, one of the world’s foremost experts on bloodhounds, they stink, they drool, they steal, they dig, they shred, they tow, they don’t listen to humans and they have a predilection for being massively destructive. In fact the modern bloodhound is the same as this ancient bloodhound.
Scientist #1: Perhaps I should have stuck to dinosaurs. Or the plague. It’s easier to control.
Well you get the idea. I am what my genes have made me and as bloodhounds have never been overbred in the manner of popular kinds of dogs (I can’t imagine why we are not popular) I am largely unchanged from the animals restricted to the nobility by medieval sumptuary laws and restricted to those lacking common sense by the modern laws of Hound bad behavior. So when I am dragging my humans through the park they imagine that they are elegant, wealthy women on horseback in pursuit of a good meal instead of sloppily dressed poor women (see vet bills) on foot in pursuit of a Hound in pursuit of a milk carton.
But mostly the people we meet are congenial and complimentary (they admire me after all) like the French women who actually bred bloodhounds! Elizabeth was having quite the chat with them, doing well with her French until they asked if I was as nice and well behaved as I seemed. Uh. How to describe my character in French? Especially as, as the time, I was heavily engaged in the chewing of a stick as a way to avoid leaving the park. The experience sent her scurrying to her Larousse for the translations of stubborn, obnoxious, and entitled but her pause made the ladies understand the difficulty and they supplied the missing description with the tactful French equivalent of “he has a lot of personality” and then observed (as my humans frequently do) that I am, in effect, a typical guy. It’s uplifting to know that a guy is a guy in any language and in any species. Or not.
Anyway, that’s pretty much been my week. I finished one of my antibiotics on Thursday and finish the last of the other one on Sunday so there will be a gelato party on Monday as I have been off dairy products for 7 weeks. I will miss demonstrating my prodigious pill hawking expertise though. I enjoyed shattering Maria’s sense of complacency that she had me properly medicated—no hiding of pills in flews, etc. at which I am also adept—by impressively hawking up apparently swallowed pills, sometimes in wide ranging arcs and sometimes multiple times. She’s probably the one who deserves the gelato but I’m the one who is going to get it. Life isn’t fair. Except if you’re Hound.
Hope you all had a turkey laden Thanksgiving.
Until next time,
Wimsey, a Hound for the ages
PS: I noticed the Christmas tree stands on the streets are now up! Nothing imbues my humans with the Christmas spirit like the annual battle to prevent me from using Christmas trees in the way nature intended. Joyeux Noel, y’all.