May 26, 2012
Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey, coming to you from Fleet Week filled Manhattan’s Upper West Side where tall ships and Navy craft have been plying the Hudson River and offering a strong deterrent to invasion by New York’s historic enemy, New Jersey. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth can rest easy with the might of the U.S. military protecting them from invasion by the big hair and bigger jewelry on the other side of the river (I too have big hair but since it ends up all over the clothes, furniture and rugs of my humans it is not as offensive as the New Jersey kind—except perhaps when Elizabeth forgets to vacuum the rug before she does yoga and ends up looking like a yeti).
In spite of the revolting weather—humid and thunderstormy—New York is very much en fête—it’s hard to see but there is a Navy ship in the background and the decks were lined with sailors in spotless white. If they visit the Boat Basin Café or Pier One or any of my other watering cum drooling holes let’s hope those uniforms are Scotch Guarded—warm humid weather brings forth the finest from my flews.
But I always look forward to meeting and greeting our service men and women and they are always attracted to me because I look like a dog that should be useful in lots of important ways. Except that I’m not. Unless you define useful as humiliating humans and appropriating their stuff.
But we bloodhounds were not always such lilies of the field—we have been renown through history for finding things:
Prehistoric times: Bloodhounds find game. Humans chase game. Humans kill game. Humans transport game to campsite. Humans cook game. Bloodhounds find game.
Ancient Rome: Man loses toga. Bloodhound finds toga. Man must buy new toga.
Medieval Times: Peasant is proud owner of root vegetable garden. Bloodhound finds root vegetable garden. Peasant is proud owner of holes.
Renaissance: Florentine nobleman seeks his true love in garden maze. Florentine nobleman uses his bloodhound to find his true love in garden maze. Florentine Noblewoman finds her true love in garden maze. It’s not the Florentine nobleman.
American Revolution: Thomas Jefferson writes Declaration of Independence. Bloodhound finds Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson re-writes Declaration of Independence. Hound inspires reference to inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Or tasty parchment.
Modern Times: with game now found in the supermarket and true loves on the Internet modern bloodhounds learn to find new things:
Food left on counters,
Food left in garbage bins
Food residing on dinner plates
Foods residing in refrigerators that have been left open a fraction too long
The best spot on the couch
The best spot on the bed
The best spot on people’s laps (generally the ones on top of the newspapers)
Electronic devices that you’ve tried to hide
Dirty laundry, (particularly socks and underwear)
Unopened mail (preferably those containing checks)
Plastic water bottles (preferably those that people are still drinking from)
Books (preferably unread)
Poop of other animals
Ways to go under, around or through inconvenient barriers such as fences, baby gates and doors
And of course, the #1 thing the modern bloodhound finds: new ways to annoy and inconvenience their humans!
Anyway, last Sunday I offered to take care of my ex-puppy Pluto (he is now almost a year old!) while his humans were off shamelessly engaging in non-Pluto related activities. He ought not to allow that, but he is still young and learning.
Pluto is now enrolled in therapy dog class where he is honing his skills in getting people to pet him and feed him things in return for looking cute--- an activity at which I excel—but I hear that the teacher thinks Pluto resembles a frog. Elizabeth assists in this class (trust me, the irony of her helping to train dogs is not lost on anyone who knows me—she’d have better luck training an actual frog) and I expect to receive regular updates on his progress.
Maria has always thought that I myself would make an excellent therapy dog, except perhaps for the part about learning to obey obedience commands and not drooling on the patients or investigating all the interesting smells in the hospital room or baying loudly when I get bored. But other than that, who would not want to be immobilized in a hospital bed and see (and smell) me looming over their pillow?
But the point is moot as after much analysis (and tearing out of the hair) Elizabeth has determined that I do not make the connection between a proffered treat and a desired behavior. This apparently makes training difficult. And then she realized that even if, in an unexpected burst of brilliance, I were to make the connection, I wouldn’t offer the behavior anyway because I generally object on principle to doing anything that humans want me to do. It’s a slippery slope from “give me your paw” to “give me your paw and let me cut your nails (a feat, I am proud to say, has never been accomplished without the unfair use of a potent anesthetic).
Anyway, Sunday was a busy day all around—we ran into the AIDS Walk in Central Park and anywhere there are groups of people there are groups of people petting me, which adds to the enjoyment. Especially mine. Not that people didn’t admire Pluto also but he is such a little fellow that one has to bend all the way down to give him a scratch and poking people in the ankles is not as effective a way of getting their attention as poking them in the crotch.
And we met one of my police officer buddies who I have not seen in some time—I used to live down the street from the 20th Precinct and would regularly attempt to make loud and unauthorized forays into the station which amused the officers if not the human being dragged at the other end of the leash.
Well, eventually we all repaired to the small backyard that Maria shares with the adjacent apartment. Now this yard is filled with the accumulated stuff of multiple previous tenants and Pluto proved adept at diving into vegetation and bringing out an assortment of rusted cans, rotting Frisbees and derelict containers. Also the odd cat toy. Personally I was hoping he’d eventually pop out with the cat, but no such luck. Of course there was a bit of a scare when we both plunged into some ivy and the humans feared that perhaps we had gotten hold of a rat, deceased or otherwise. I didn’t know my humans move so fast. I imagine it would have been hard to explain to Pluto’s humans why he had bits of rat stuck to his coat. But it was a false alarm, although the humans weren’t too keen to find out exactly what is was that had attracted our interest. There is now a plan afoot to try to clean up the backyard this weekend and I hope to be instrumental in the process-- I can carry more things in my mouth that I am not supposed to have than Pluto.
But I am really looking forward to another aspect of the weekend; someone gave Maria a small barbecue grill and my humans are all excited about using it. Now the first order of barbecue business was a lengthy discussion as to whether I would prefer barbecued salmon, barbecued chicken or the traditional hamburger. But then the ladies realized that barbecuing is right up there with driving cars and pumping gas in the annals of things that New Yorkers don’t know how to do. So they bought a book. Really. (Somehow I don’t think they would have survived very long in prehistoric, or at least in pre-pizza delivery times).
So having acquired a book—the title of which should be Barbecuing for People with Evolutionarily Unfit Genes—the next obvious thing was to acquire appropriate barbecuing utensils. Unfortunately when Maria ordered the deluxe barbecue kit from Amazon she didn’t pay too much attention to the details. What arrived was a barbecue set whose extravagant dimensions are more suited to Goliath grilling a cow or two after a hard day bashing the Israelites than to a couple of urbanites barbecuing for their Hound on a dainty mini- grill. These are some serious barbecue implements. Wimsey size.
In any case, this will be the first barbecue that I’ve participated in to which I’ve actually been invited! (I am a well known “surprise guest” at picnics all over Central Park). And the good thing about Maria’s culinary experiments is that they have a habit of ending up in my food bowl. Of course the weather is not expected to be very good—we seem to have skipped a season and catapulted from the cool 60s to the humid 80s with its attendant chance of rain and thunderstorms—but I am always optimistic that the meteorologists know as much about the upcoming weather as I know about winning obedience titles.
Well I think I will leave it there. Hope you all enjoy the weekend. I know I will—if I don’t like the food those plastic handles on the barbecue kit look pretty tasty.
Until next time,
Wimsey, The Finder