May 18, 2012
Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where we seem to be in an intermittent time warp getting showers meant for April and then heat meant for June. This virtually guarantees that my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are wearing the wrong clothing at the wrong time which pleases me greatly as they have things to complain about that aren’t me.
It’s been a very quiet week around here and as you can see from the pictures, I am being forced to wear the Heinous Gentle Leader. The theory is that me towing from my snout will put less pressure on my injured front leg than from my harness. I think this is a stupid theory (as are most of my humans’ ideas) but not every species is gifted with the pointy-head and enormous brainpower of the Hound. Consequently much of the week has been spent loafing around and snack cadging (if cadging is the word for sticking my large, wet nose into Elizabeth’s pre-walk snack) and getting my humans to offer compensatory activities to my short walks—like testing the healing properties of a nice large cup of Grom Gelato. It makes all of us feel better. But especially me. And of course there is simply no question of a bath even though my customary odor is back with a vengeance necessitating the fierce wielding of the Febreze.
But my gimpy leg and anal glands are not the only sources of frustration around here. My humans have become engrossed in Henry Lewis Gates’ new TV show, Finding Your Roots, and Elizabeth has agreed to be the guinea pig to get her DNA tested at 23 and Me, the service that they use on the show. Maria would like to do it too, but as the origins of her Hungarian heritage are somewhat mysterious, she is afraid that everything will come back stamped “Attila the Hun”--someone she thinks might not be the nicest guy to be descended from. I have tried to comfort her with the idea that she might be related to Genghis Khan instead (perhaps the source of her excellent cheekbones) but that doesn’t seem to have provided her with any solace.
Well at the moment everyone’s ancestry is a moot point because after weeks of waiting and Elizabeth hoping that she is related to all kinds of famous historical figures, the company told her that the DNA content of her spit was insufficiently high and that she will have to start the process all over again (including mailing the sample from New Jersey because it is illegal in New York State). Now I am sure that were I to provide the spit sample there would be no difficulties at all with the concentration of anything, including, mud, grass, horse poop and the contents of the garbage bin. And naturally there would no question of my ability to fully fill up the test tube with my splendid slime. So I think she should submit my sample instead:
23 and Me Report of Hound DNA
Ancestry and Migration Patterns
Hounds originated in Africa where they attached themselves to the small emergent human population when they realized that cadging, begging and stealing required less energy and resulted in more meaty calories than actual hunting. Nevertheless they did enjoy hunting in the company of humans because they found it hugely entertaining that they could lead the humans in any direction they chose because humans apparently have a non-working olfactory apparatus. Thus began the long tradition of humans following Hounds and Hounds going exactly where they wanted to go.
Natural selection dictated that the cutest and sneakiest Hounds obtained the most food and therefore produced the most offspring. Consequently the Hound gene pool became significantly enriched for an irresistibly cute face coupled to a lightening fast mouth and rapid foot speed to enable a clean getaway. Other prominent gene variants in this sample control an innocent expression and a total lack of guilt. The Hound may tuck its tail for many reasons but none of them involve displeasing a human.
Hounds followed the migration of their meal tickets north and east into the areas of today’s Middle East where they seem to have stopped migrating, most likely because the food and climate agreed with them. Here they were prized among potentates and pashas due to the prowess of their noses and the adorableness of their miens. Seeing that they appeared to be valuable, and in accordance with the general principle of pillaging, a group of Hounds were snatched by some French knights who happened to be invading the area at the time. Not knowing exactly what these loud, smelly and obstinate animals were good for the knights generously donated (or foisted, depending on your point of view) them to the monks of the Abbey of St. Hubert in what is today Belgium and what was then a Frankish region.
Here their noses were selectively bred to achieve an acme of sensitivity heretofore unknown in Christendom, but sadly the monks were not able to do anything about the smell, the noise and the attitude. These appeared to be genes closely linked to those controlling the excellent sense of smell. Consequently the savvy monks chose to exploit the principle that everyone wants what they can’t have and they limited the supply of these Hounds and restricted their ownership to royalty and the highest ranks of the nobility. This created a huge demand for something that no one would actually want if they thought about it. Thus the Hounds were responsible for the first successful marketing campaign in history and the monks went on to establish a successful ear plug business and a chain of wash-a dog and dog training franchises amongst the other monastic orders.
From here the Hounds were brought to England by William the Conqueror and thence to the New World. As societies became less feudal and more democratic the Hound spread the ideals of the Enlightenment throughout Europe and the Americas by giving everyone an equal opportunity to be annoyed, aggravated and smelly.
Susceptibility to Disease
The sample indicates that the Hound is subject to ailments whose number is too large to fully quantify as some statistical models suggest that it approaches infinity. However all ailments share certain salient features:
1) Their diagnosis is non-obvious and requires frequent vet visits and the use of expensive and often obscure diagnostic tests;
2) Once the diagnosis is established the treatment is lengthy and requires the administration of large doses of expensive medications that humans will invariably find stuck behind a couch cushion. They will also require the frequent application of costly creams, ointments, poultices and compresses to which the Hound will strenuously object and who will have to be sat upon by someone who outweighs him (although such humans are generally not easy to find and not usually enthusiastic about sitting on a smelly, drool-producing and non-cooperative Hound) and fed copious quantities of turkey;
3) Numerous medical specialists will need to be consulted throughout the process;
4) The bill for the ailment can be estimated as being equal to the annual salary of one unindicted Goldman Sachs managing director;
5) When the Hound has finally recovered he will go back to being his normal self whereupon the magnitude of his humans’ bar tab will be equal to the vet bill.
Reactions to Drugs
The Hound is very sensitive to most drugs but prone to reactions very uncommon in other types of dogs. Inexpensive antibiotics will make him ill but those costing more money will work just fine. Common treatments will be ineffective but unusual ones, especially those requiring expensive drugs or procedures will be highly effective. Small pills that must be given once a day on an empty stomach are much less effective than large pills that must be given multiple times a day on a full stomach. Drugs that can conveniently be injected every two weeks must be avoided as they disagree with the Hound’s delicate constitution. A small amount of sedation makes the Hound lively. A slightly larger amount of sedation makes the Hound comatose. No matter how much the humans plead, the vet will not sell them the larger amount of sedation.
Well you get the idea. But the week hasn’t been a total waste. It was a beautiful evening and I ran into Pluto my French bulldog buddy and we had a wonderful time playing Hound soccer with a tennis ball that I found. The rules of Hound soccer dictate that when the opponent is in possession of the ball that he be chased and bayed at furiously until he relinquishes possession. Failure to relinquish possession results in the Hound throwing himself of the ground and baying even louder, preferably until people start screaming at him through their windows. Also the rules of Hound soccer require that the Hound totally forget about his sore leg and run like a maniac—until later when he remembers his sore leg and demands a healing cup of gelato.
Well, that’s it for this week.
Until next time,
Wimsey, a marvel of genetic engineering