September 28, 2012
Hello Everyone, Wimsey here, coming to you from the Upper West Side of Manhattan where some autumnal showers have forced me to display myself in my conspicuous red raincoat much to the amusement of the public at large. All I can say is that when you take a conspicuous dog and dress him in a conspicuous coat you get smiled at and photographed even more than usual--if that is possible. Kate Middleton and I have a lot in common, paparazzi-wise except that it’s the putting on of clothes rather than the taking them off that seems to excite the photographers around here. I know that a lot of people are incensed about those photos and I am too—apparently the photographer in question did not even have the decency to offer her a fistful of turkey as recompense. I worry that it may give my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth ideas about getting something for nothing out of me, a concept anathema to the psychology of the Hound.
But there is always a price to pay for all of life’s benefits—celebrities like Kate and myself pay in privacy and Hound humans like Maria and Elizabeth simply pay in every other way. Free time, disposable income, clean clothes, clean apartments, vacations (at least those that don’t include me), meals free of drool, beds free of hair, etc. come instantly to mind but the list is pretty extensive. But of course in return they get me. And who would not want me?
But I digress. It’s been a pretty quiet week what with no rampaging centipedes to slay and no park art tours and visits to the specialist vet to make. In fact I haven’t seen a vet in over a week! It might be a new record. The bad news is that since my lick granuloma is looking like it’s healed my four times a day compresses are being discontinued. I love having Elizabeth put compresses on my foot—she feeds me turkey, scratches me and speaks to me softly with words that do not include “Wimsey, NO!” “Wimsey Stop That” and “Wimsey Go Away!” And I enjoy my wrestling matches with Maria over possession of my paw. But the good news is that I can always make a new lick granuloma! In fact every time I so much as give a paw a little swipe of my tongue I am threatened with booties and a de-yeasting bath.
Of course when I say it has been a quiet week I don’t mean that literally. I have run into my French bulldog friend Pluto quite a few times which of course necessitated alerting the neighborhood to this joyous event. In fact I decided to try to go home with Pluto after one such encounter but as his apartment is beautifully decorated and filled with art and antiques (unlike mine which are filled with drool and stuff that I’ve wrecked) I don’t think a visit is very likely. Pluto will, however, be staying with Elizabeth for a few days at the end of the week which means that Elizabeth will be on Hound referee duty making sure that neither of us comes to any harm-- unlike her possessions. (When I am in the throes of a heated game of chase I generally feel that it is more efficient to go through inconveniently placed objects than to go around them.)
And apart from the fact that my extensive toy pile is banished to the closet I like having Pluto stay with Elizabeth—he is kind of a mini-me and so when I go home to Maria’s in the evening I know that she will be indignantly stared at when she is eating, sat upon when trying to read the papers (Pluto may be small but his powers of paper shredding are far in excess of his diminutive size) and bed checked when she is trying to sleep. And like me he has very decided views on which direction to walk that never seem to coincide with the way in which the human holding the leash wants to walk. I have always though it a shame that I could not be in two places at once but Pluto is the next best thing.
Anyway, getting back to my red raincoat, wearing it always puts me in mind of the story of Little Red Riding Hood.
Little Red Riding Hood, Hound Edition
Once upon a time there was a little girl called Little Red Riding Hood who had a Hungarian grandmother and a Big, Bad Hound. Now much to this Hound’s amazement, the little girl would actually take food to her grandmother instead of getting food from her grandmother. He was pretty sure that this was against everything Hungarian grandmothers stood for and he knew it was against everything Hounds stood for. So one day when she was dressing him up in her red cloak because humans think that Hounds wearing clothes are funny, he shoved her over, grabbed grandma’s goody basket and took off. When he had polished off the contents of the basket he decided to take the empty basket to grandma’s and see if she would fill it for him again. Unbeknownst to him a character called the Big Bad Wolf (a distant relative of The Big, Bad Hound) had locked grandma in the closet and stolen her identity. Whilst The Big Bad Wolf was busy online ordering hampers from Fortnum and Mason’s he was interrupted by Little Red Hounding Hood:
Hound: Hey grandma. It’s me. Your exceptionally thin and hungry granddaughter.
Wolf: You don’t look like my granddaughter and you certainly don’t smell like her. And what big ears you have!
Hound: Well the same could be said of you. I have big ears the better to hear the refrigerator door opening no matter how stealthy the humans are trying to be.
Wolf: And what a big nose you have!
Hound: Ah, yes, the nose. I’m particularly proud of that bit. The better to detect the presence of desirable comestibles that are being cruelly withheld from me.
Wolf: Well this is the part where I’d comment on your teeth and try to eat you but between you and me you don’t smell very appetizing. And contrary to the fact that I am wearing this ridiculous bonnet I am not your grandmother. I am the Big Bad Wolf.
Hound: Well that’s a relief. And in spite of the fact that I am wearing this ridiculous cloak I am not Little Red Riding Hood but the Big Bad Hound. Although some people just call me Hound because the “big” and the “bad” are considered redundant. But what did you do with grandma?
Wolf: She’s in the closet.
Hound: Really. I had no idea. She doesn’t look the type.
Hound: Well while we’re waiting for those hampers to arrive, how’s about we get her out of the closet, so to speak, and have her whip up something tasty. She makes a mean chicken paprika.
And the Hound and the Wolf and the Grandma who loved to have an insatiable and appreciative audience for her cooking lived happily every after. And Little Red Riding Hood lived happily ever after also--she bought a Golden Retriever.
So I think of that touching tale every time I am forced to wear my red raincoat.
And autumn finally seems to have arrived! My humans were happily enjoying the cooler weather when the Scourge of September was suddenly upon them. Yes that’s right—it’s Shedding Season. Now strictly speaking the whole year is shedding season around here and as a heavily shedding Hound, operations never cease in this regard, but twice a year I give it a little something extra. Or really a lot something extra. It began with the fistful of fur that came off me in the bath last week and has continued unabated since. Every time I am petted or shake the cloud of fur effect is beautifully in evidence. And anywhere I lay I create a Hound shaped fur shadow. Even touching me with a Zoom Groom results in nose choking amounts of flying fur.
Wimsey’s Shedding Scale
1: You notice that your pants have hair on them
2: You notice that your pants leave hair on anything you sit on
3. You notice that your actual hair now has attractive streaks of black and tan
4. You notice that there is hair in your food
5. You notice that there is hair on plates that have already been washed
6. You notice hair in the refrigerator
7. You notice that sitting down on the couch causes a Mt. Vesuvius of hair to erupt
8. You notice hair in the bed—under the sheets
9. You notice that you are spending the GNP of a small nation in vacuum cleaner bags
10. You notice hair on your underwear—the inside of your underwear.
And my hair is none of that nice fluffy stuff—it’s short, it’s spikey and it’s itchy. It also smells like me which means my humans and everything they own smells like me. And when I am all done I will have nice, warm thick winter hairs to shed all over everything until spring. Fall is a wonderful time of the year
Anyway, before I leave you for this week I would be remiss not to call attention to the fact that on this date in 1066 William the Conqueror landed in England. Now when all is said in done, and apart from a bit of oppression and exploitation of the Saxons what did Our Bill really accomplish? Did England develop as a French-speaking nation? No. Did the national dish become duck a l’orange instead of fish and chips? No. Do its women know how to tie scarves? No. But the Norman invaders had one seminal and long lasting accomplishment—they introduced the Chien de St. Hubert –my ancestors!--to England. Without the Norman invasion who knows when and if the bloodhound would have arrived in England. Those Saxons were clever folks and probably would have barred us from entering the realm at all. And when the English colonized the New World bloodhounds colonized it right along with them (we are nothing if not excellent colonizers). So really I represent the only true, enduring accomplishment of the Norman Conquest. Vive Guillaume le Conquérant!
Until next time,
Wimsey, a West Side Story
“I feel sheddy
Oh so sheddy
I feel sheddy and smelly and light!
And I pity
Any Hound who is not me tonight!
I feel drooly
Oh so drooly
It’s truly how drooly I feel
And so sheddy
That I can hardly believe I am real
See the sheddy Hound in the mirror there
Who can that smelly Hound be?
Such a sheddy face
Such a sheddy neck
Such a sheddy haunch
Such a sheddy me!”