December 30, 2011
Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from the epicenter of the country’s New Year’s festivities Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Well actually the true epicenter, Times Square, is about a mile and half to the south but it’s such a paltry distance for a traveling Hound such as myself that it barely counts. In any case, my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth will not be standing around in the cold watching the ball drop but will be sitting around in the warm scratching me watching the drool drop.
It’s this type of preoccupation with me that prompted this Christmas gift to arrive in the mail for my human Maria. In case you can’t read it, it is a bottle of Wimsey Eau de Hound because “you can never be too rich or smell too much like a Hound (Didn’t the Duchesse of Windsor say that?) And the back states that the product is “Distinctive, Penetrating, Insouciant, Stubborn” (sound or rather smell familiar?) and is “For the woman who stands out in a
crowd or perhaps it’s just her Wimsey.” Well the only reason my humans stand out in a crowd is because of me—the smell alone is enough to attract notice let alone my baying, poking and leaning to say nothing of my surprise purse and shopping bag inspections (a surprise at least to those being inspected).
And the perfume inside—Obsession. Which pretty much describes both my humans’ attitude towards me as well as my own attitude towards me. So, many thanks to Maria’s friend Kurt (why do Maria and her friends all sound like they belong in The Sound of Music? I am surprised that I was not named Captain von Trapp—I’m certainly musical enough) and rest assured that there is not a perfume in the world strong enough to interfere with my Houndly odor. But on the subject of The Sound of Music I have some ideas:
Wimsey’s Sound of Music
Servant: Captain von Trapp, the new dog trainer is here!
Captain von Trapp: It’s about time. That last one was terrible.
Servant: The doctor says she will be out of the hospital soon.
Captain von Trapp: Well I can’t imagine what she thought she was doing waving a piece of liver around and yelling, “all dogs come.”
Servant: But they did come Captain.
Captain: Yes, but they also sent her flying and trampled her while wrestling over the liver. I don’t think that’s what she intended. I mean there are only seven Hounds after all and I can control them perfectly.
Servant: Yes, but you stand behind an invisible fence.
Captain: Sitting on them also works. And there is always the gentle leader.
Servant: But I think the idea is that they are supposed to do what you tell them without compulsion.
Captain: But they’re Hounds!
Servant: Well this last trainer was still better than the one before, you know the little guy who tried to alpha roll them.
Captain: Yes I remember. He was very disappointed that the Hounds liked to be alpha rolled. Apparently it reminds them of belly rubs. And of course the alpha rolling had absolutely no effect on their disinclination to listen to him.
Servant: Captain von Trapp, she’s here! May I present Maria.
Captain: Ye gads, why is she dressed like that?!
Servant: She says they’re her Hound clothes.
Captain: Well they certain smell like them. Anyway, I’ll introduce her to the Hounds. She does have good insurance, right.
Servant: Yes Captain.
Captain: Very well. Fraulein may I present my Hounds: Smelly, Loud, Obnoxious, Willful, Entêté (his mother was French), Disobedient and Entitled.
Maria: They’re so cute! And what charming names!
Captain: You may not think so when you try to train them.
Maria: Train them? You mean you think I am here to train them? But why? They are perfect just the way they are.
Captain: Then why are you here?
Maria: To train you. You are the problem. Haven’t you watched any dog training TV shows? Anyway, the nuns at the Convent of New Salzburg warned me that there was some disturbed baron who was trying to upend the divine plan.
Captain: But surely as a superior being I am supposed to issue commands and they are supposed to follow them?
Maria: You live with Hounds and you think you are the superior being? That’s your first mistake. And if you persist in issuing orders that you expect them to obey then you will doom yourself to a life of disappointment and unhappiness.
Captain: Then what should I do?
Maria: You must learn to accept what you cannot control. Like when they eat the couch or dig up your manicured gardens or put holes in your best dress uniform. The Hounds were sent here to teach us patience, humility and tolerance and to make us understand what is important.
Captain: Which is?
Several weeks later:
Captain: Kurt! Kurt! What happened to all my blankets? I froze last night!
Servant: Fraulein Maria made dog coats out of them.
Captain: And the shower curtains have disappeared!
Servant: She used them to make raincoats—apparently the Hounds don’t like being wet.
Captain: What are we going to do about Maria?
Servant: I suggest marrying her Sir. No one else will.
Captain: Not a white wedding though.
Well you get the idea. But there are a lot of misconceptions on the subject of Hound obedience (an oxymoron if ever there was one)—like that we are not all that bright. This is completely untrue and we Hounds actually harbor a surfeit of neurons in our occipital protuberances (otherwise known as our pointy heads). The real problem is that while humans think they are saying one thing, in Houndspeak they are really saying quite another.
Houndspeak Obedience Command Translations
Sit: Sit means that a human is holding a tasty snack in their hand and that the fastest and most efficient way to obtain this tasty snack is to lunge for it and grab it. Should you wish to practice your sit an excellent time is in the show ring when your human is trying to stack you or when the judge is examining you.
Down: (see sit). Alternatively this command can mean that you are somehow in the way or are too large or too intimidating in a standing or seated position. As all of these attributes are all extremely desirable why would you mitigate the advantage of them by lying down? Consequently the command “down” really means “loom larger.” But “down” can safely be practiced in tandem with “thwack” when a belly rub is desired or in the show ring during your down and back when you want to scratch that itch on your back.
Heel: “Heel” is a command of weakness that means your human is tired, injured, embarrassed or fed up, all of which means, “pull harder, you’re winning.” “Heel” and “Hound” are antithetical concepts like matter and anti-matter and should never be brought together. A Hound, by dint of thousands of years of creative genetics, must be out front dragging a human along the fascinating line of the scent du jour. There are almost no circumstances in which a Hound should practice heel, with the exception perhaps of trying to chew a hole in a human’s jacket pocket to access a desirable treat.
Come: Contrary to what humans think, this is never a good command as it usually means that whatever it is that your are enjoying yourself doing your human is not enjoying themselves watching and prefers that you desist. Plus humans seldom issue this command when they want to do something nice like giving you a new toy or some gelato because when you see or sense the good thing the command is superfluous. “Come” can lead to baths, vet visits, crates, silly hats etc. But you can practice “come” whenever a situation arises (like a dinner party) in which you can make a colossal nuisance of yourself.
No: The command “no” essentially means that you are on to a good thing-go for it. There is no stronger word with which to encourage a Hound than “no” and the louder and more vigorous the command the better the thing is that you are on to. Hounds can practice their version of “no” only when in the presence of grooming implements such as the nail clipper or walking control devices such as the gentle leader.
Stay: “Stay,” like “no” is a command of encouragement: that is, if you don’t stay where you are you are on the verge of finding something or doing something that possesses exceptional entertainment value—such as presenting your posterior to the camera instead of your face. Conversely, if you do stay, something unpleasant is likely to ensue (see come). “Stay” can be successfully practiced when it is time to leave the park or when sleeping the wide way across a bed or when hogging the kitchen floor.
Drop It: “Drop It” is another command of encouragement as it is self evident that if your human wants you to drop it dropping it is manifestly not in your best interest. “Drop it” really means, “swallow fast” or “run away now.” Hounds may want to practice “drop it” however when that piece of horse poop that they were about to ingest turns out disappointingly to be a rock or when a pill is inserted into their mouth.
Anyway, needless to say I had a good time demonstrating my mastery of these commands over the holiday week and was suitably rewarded. I was given a nice large bear in a Santa Hat on Christmas Day and on Tuesday, my first afternoon back with Elizabeth while Maria was at work, she gave me a large red and green Christmas tortoise. And as they say, no good deed goes unpunished as it turns out that this tortoise makes the loudest most hideous noise—like something being killed! It’s fabulous and had Elizabeth reaching for the aspirin and fearing a visit from concerned neighbors in no time flat. And although my usual modus operandi with stuffed toys is to eviscerate and extract the squeaker I have no intention of doing so with my tortoise.
And on Wednesday my French bulldog puppy Pluto joined me at Elizabeth’s where I supervised the little tyke’s activities under Elizabeth’s eagle eye. He is a chip off the old block and demonstrated this when, in spite of not being overly interested in his own kibble, tried to eat mine. I understood the principle perfectly but eating that stuff voluntarily and without tasty add-ins was nothing short of heroic.
Anyway I think that wraps it up for this week. Holidays can be so stressful—all the petting, admiration and food can really make one yearn for some peace and quiet. But then there is that tortoise. (My New Year’s resolutions: play with the tortoise when Elizabeth is on the phone, play with the tortoise if Elizabeth tries to take a nap, play with the tortoise when Elizabeth sits at the computer, play with the tortoise when Elizabeth wants to watch TV, play with the tortoise when Elizabeth tries to have a relaxing lunch…)
Happy New Year To Everyone,
Wimsey (von Trapp)