Friday, January 27, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #246

Entry #246

January 27, 2012

Hello everyone, it’s me Wimsey-- back after my short hiatus and coming to you as usual from Manhattan’s Upper West Side, commonly known to its residents as the Center of the Universe where one can get anything at any hour of the day or night-- except of course a well behaved Hound, which is never on offer.

Winter also appears to be not on offer as we are once again having mild and rainy weather making for some exciting walks on slippery mud and some even more exciting (at least for me) Hound clean up operations afterwards (I go from being black and tan to being black and black). I pride myself on the fact that it takes almost as long to clean me up as to actually walk me and then I always manage to leave a pile of dirt somewhere about the abode anyway. This is in addition to the floors which assume a crunchy character after one of my lengthy and moist perambulations.

Well since last we spoke my human Maria celebrated a birthday and, and, as is customary around here, I was awarded a stuffed corduroy monkey to celebrate. But the occasion was marred by the week’s absence of her friend Elizabeth who normally walks and takes care of me during the day and who insisted on celebrating her birthday in Oslo and London (today’s weather should bring back pleasant English memories—a good thing all her clothes have hoods—having one hand on an umbrella and one on my leash not being compatible with continued viability).

I was naturally banned from the packing process when all manner of non-smelly and drool stained clothes that Elizabeth had forgotten that she ever had emerged from the depths of her closet. Most of her wardrobe has inexorably migrated from non-Hound to Hound because, although she may have forgotten the clothes in the depths of her closet, I have not. In any case I had a professional walker for the week for which my humans were charged a lot of money—I can’t imagine why.

But as is frequently the case in these matters, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or at least more forgetful. So in addition to watching the canines of Oslo (dogs are apparently enjoying an upsurge in popularity there) disport themselves in the fine winter weather, Elizabeth took a break from shopping for sweaters in which to walk me (and from the drinking of $25 cocktails) to visit a pet store to peruse merchandise that might be acceptable for my entertainment.

Owing to the fact that I have been getting shirty about having my legs stuffed into my winter coats my humans are looking for coats that both have no legs and also protect my delicate undercarriage from the cold (although cold has been in as short a supply this season as my sartorial cooperation). A fine Finnish company called Hurtta makes such an article but sadly attempts to find one sized to my generous proportions proved futile. So Elizabeth was forced to buy me a stuffed green hedgehog instead. It could have been a lot worse—while she was there a young German Shorthair Pointer was being fitted for leggings. He wasn’t happy.

But between shopping expeditions and cocktail sticker shock Elizabeth did get to view a preserved Viking ship. I myself have always felt an affinity for these folks—I admire their rather determined manner and their propensity to acquire goods and real estate not originally belonging to them. Also they stole women. I would have fit right in.

So then after Oslo it was off to the UK, where Elizabeth’s first stop was to a town outside of London to visit this fellow, whom Elizabeth has known since he was a puppy. He has since developed some shocking habits liking coming when called (even abandoning a delectable pile of horse poop!) and waiting to be fed from the table instead of stealing or putting his nose in the food in order to compromise its palatability—Elizabeth felt so bad for him that he had half her dinner anyway.

Then there was the issue of his not shoving her off the bed when he climbed into it and of his using his soft muzzle to gently suggest that he’d like a scratch rather than using a paw to forcefully thwack her like a normal dog. Also Ollie didn’t smell and he shed very little for so hairy a beast. Elizabeth was shocked. The only bright spot came when his human complained that he pulled when he was on his leash. But then Elizabeth took the leash and fell about laughing. If I “pulled” like that I’d earn a cookie. Pulling, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder (or in the dislocated shoulder of the dragee).

And then Elizabeth repaired to London where as is usual I managed to do some major vacation hijacking. Like when Elizabeth was in the middle of a serious business meeting and got interrupted by an urgent email from Mr. Chewy inquiring if I’d like to review some treats. But really what could be more important than securing me a supply of treats from Mr. Chewy?

And then instead of asking the hotel concierge for recommendations about restaurants or cultural events she had him prepare a list of London pet stores where she could do some more shopping for me.

Now all these stores are very small compared to the ones in New York—apparently most people buy their gear online—but Harrods does have a rather large pet department, albeit a very small- dog centric one, where she found only one toy of a size suitable for my use.

But she did manage to pick up a stuffed green monkey from a shop off of Kings Road in Chelsea and although there was nothing in the Portobello Road pet store she did pass paparazzi waiting for Taylor Swift to finish lunch. (I sympathize, although the paparazzi who follow me usually wait for me to finish chewing up a water bottle).

Well finally it was off to the National Gallery to do some work on additional paintings for my art history app that my humans are preparing for the iPad. So all in all I had quite a successful day in London without ever having to leave the couch.

But should I ever decide to jump the pond I would cut a dashing figure (literally)—the only problem being this sign. Canines are permitted on the London Underground but there would be the issue of transporting me up and down the escalators. Perhaps my humans could hire a Sherpa (a very strong Sherpa) or rig up a regal palanquin to comply with this regulation.

But there is no place like home, especially when there is a Hound involved and with one click of her black and tan slippers (and a lot of help and gin and tonics from Virgin Atlantic) Elizabeth was back in New York again. Her customs declaration, like the large Harrods bag she carried that should have been filled with luxury apparel, was filled instead with nothing but dog toys. My humans leave me at their peril.

Anyway when Elizabeth at long last eagerly bounded into my apartment to walk me yesterday I rose majestically, gave her a few obligatory swishes of my massive tail and demanded a cookie. Welcome home.

Well I think that’s about it for this week; I have so far only been able to get my mouth on the green monkey owing to the fact that it is the quietest of the toys and the most suitable for jet lagged nerves. And of course 1 small jet-lagged human+ 1 large non-jet lagged Hound+1 park full of mud and slippery leaves= 3 hours of fun.

Until next time,

Wimsey, the Viking Mudhound

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #245

Entry #245

January 13, 2012

Hello Everyone, it’s me Wimsey, coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where after some mild weather we are finally having some good old fashioned wintery bluster! I even saw a few snow flakes during today’s Central Park perambulation—a harbinger of things to come, I hope, as the joys of snow (at least for me) are almost equal to the joys of all the work snow makes for my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth.

First, they must suit up in the full Michelin Man Monty, replete with high traction boots and extensive layers of movement restricting clothing. Then they must pack up sets of crampons for use in the park to maximize the chances of getting out of there with a minimal number of bruises and broken bones—this is in addition to my cookies, a supply of bribing turkey and canteens of water lest I dehydrate in all the fun. Next, they have to suit me up in my elasticized, insulated and waterproof snowsuit (Aka “the Speedo”) no easy feat in a giant, rapidly moving Hound with a strong predilection for going commando. Then I have to be harnessed up and my paws sprayed with special paw spray to protect my delicate tootsies from succumbing to the vicissitudes of the ice and salt.

And of course after it is all over the process has to be repeated in reverse and I have to be thoroughly toweled off and fed a sustaining meal to replenish the energy that I’ve burned off. My humans also have to be toweled off but they prefer to drink a sustaining adult beverage to replenish the self-esteem that I’ve destroyed (there is something irresistibly entertaining to passersby about the sight of humans being dragged into snow banks by an irrepressible Hound).

Is it any wonder that winter is my favorite season!

But before I proceed any further, there will be no blog post next week and perhaps none the week after, depending on events, owing to a schedule conflict. Alas January brings my humans’ birthday season—Maria’s on January 18th and Elizabeth’s on January 21st and this year Elizabeth is jumping the pond to London and Oslo. Initially she was going to go dog sledding in the Norwegian arctic (we will say nothing about how her inability to control one mild-mannered Hound might not augur well for her ability to control a team of 6-12 robust huskies) but then some business turned up in London so she will just be in Oslo on a shopping spree devoted to the acquisition of warmer and more durable winter Hounding apparel. And if this trip is anything like her previous trips she will eschew museums and other high-minded cultural pursuits in favor of doing a tour of pet shops and dog bakeries. I am always with her whether I am physically present or not—mind control being one of the key principles of Houndism.

Anyway, it turns out that when Elizabeth looked in her closet to see what she might want to wear on her trip she was astounded to find that her wardrobe had insidiously morphed into racks of Hounding clothes—a vast collection of shirts, sweaters, trousers, coats, jackets, gloves and hats all with but a single purpose—the walking of me! It occurred to her that since she was not going dog sledding in the Arctic people in nice hotels might not find the sight of a baggy, smelly woman all that inviting so I have been cruelly left alone this week whilst she went off in search of actual normal, non-smelly (at least temporarily), non-baggy clothing. Her purchases are all now encased in many layers of plastic and locked away deep in her closet in the hopes of rendering them impermeable to my odor and drool (the odor being currently enhanced by a spot of anal gland trouble)—at least until she leaves. I really hate it when my humans wear clothing that doesn’t smell like me and does not bear my distinctive emblems of drool!

Consequently, it has been something of a quiet week around here; I was supposed to have a visit from my French bulldog puppy Pluto but he cancelled. Puppies are so unreliable—he probably preferred to stay home and chew up a good book instead. But at seven months, in spite of the vast differences in our size and appearance, he grows more like me each week—including mimicking my propensity (some would say talent) for developing annoying ailments requiring multiple vet visits. Last week he had an eye infection (one of my perennial favorites—nothing like the oozing of green goo to get the humans hopping) and also a worn down nail that bleeds (I’ve never tried that one, but I admire innovation, especially in one so young—he has a bright future).

And speaking of matters veterinary--owing to the renewed vigor of my anal glands I am once again on flagyl which means I am once again putting my flews to the use for which they were intended—hiding things from my humans. I have spoken many times about the various parts of my anatomy to which I am inordinately attached but I think I have given my flews short thrift:

Top Ten Things Flews are Good For

1. Hiding pills and other medicaments that one has appeared to swallow for later disposal in inconspicuous places, like the bed. The capaciousness of flews is such that even if they are inspected a small pill lodged expertly in a fold is likely to be overlooked.

2. The carrying of filthy tennis balls that one has retrieved from the park and desires to play with and dismember in the comfort of one’s own home. They are almost impossible to detect visually from the outside thus vastly reducing the risk of premature confiscation.

3. As a large reservoir for the copious amounts of drool that one always likes to have at one’s disposal for the purpose of flinging on unsuspecting persons. Preferably well-dressed unsuspecting persons.

4. As a caddy to ferry considerable quantities of water from one’s bowl to one’s humans for subsequent release onto the aforementioned. Preferably at night and preferably while they are asleep.

5. The secreting of chattels that one has been interrupted in the process of stealing and for which one’s human has begun to search.

6. The secreting of a chicken leg or a steak that one has lifted from the kitchen counter that one would prefer to eat peacefully in one’s bed, in one’s human’s bed or hiding behind the couch.

7. For the transport of fragrant organic matter of indeterminate origin from the outdoors to the indoors for subsequent dispersal on the walls, ceilings, furniture and heirloom oriental carpet.

8. As the fountainhead for the creation of appetizing drool stalactites that one likes to produce in front of people trying to eat in outdoor cafes and at dinner tables in order to make known one’s desire to share in the bounty and to encourage generous activities thereof.

9. To induce panic in one’s human at one’s apparent ingestion of dangerous materials such as chicken bones or television remotes that one has merely tucked away for safekeeping.

10. To make one look unbearably cute when one splays them out in a skate-like configuration while napping in a spot that one is not supposed to be napping in causing humans to allow you undisturbed rest and to buy you a present instead of scolding you and to also ignore the fact that you are a voracious and unrepentant thief of their money, time and possessions.

But really the best thing about flews is that humans don’t have them and like our finely honed sense of smell, they define the superior design of The Hound.

Well I think I will leave it there for this week. But before I go I would be remiss in not mentioning that on this day in 1559 Elizabeth’s favorite Tudor, Elizabeth I was crowned in Westminster Abbey. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that Maria and I have had to endure interminable lectures on Tudor history (and sadly not the racy TV show either) owing to her fascination. And as everyone knows the (alleged) Virgin Queen (Robert Dudley was pretty hot) refused to have a husband because she would not be ruled. And although one can truly admire this Hound-like sentiment, papers from my Tudor ancestor, Sir Edmund Wimsey, reveal that in fact there was (seldom) any room in her bed for anyone other than her sprawling, snoring Hound. So while Elizabeth was a source of awe and reverence to her subjects to her Hound she was just one more human source of belly rubs, toys, bones and of course awe and reverence. Hounds are like that. We’re kind of like that popular kid in high school that everyone wants to be around but nobody knows why.

Anyway, I hope you all survived this Friday 13th. My piece of bad luck was the human lack of interest in having me jump in the Central Park Lake to get better acquainted with the large number of ducks and geese congregating there today. But tomorrow is the 14th

Until next time,

Wimsey, flewsie extraordinaire

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #244

Entry #244

January 6, 2012

Hello Everyone, it’s me Wimsey here to welcome you to the first post of the New Year from my Houndly outpost on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where my resolution to become a better Hound threatens the sanity of my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth. As we know the better the Hound the worse the dog, or at least this appears to be the case from all the ‘Wimsey No’s” I achieved this week.

But fortunately my humans do have a sense of humor (you’d have to to be around me). When, after one particularly gruesome and extended spate of oppositional towing, illicit stick eating and garbage, horse poop and water bottle hunting, I parked myself in front of a fountain demanding water service in true Hound Pasha style both my humans cracked up. It was all “He’s really dreadful isn’t he” amidst even more chuckling at the audacious nature of my sense of entitlement. In the hands of normal people I’d have been sentenced to remedial classes or worse a long time ago but if Hounds are a special breed of dog then the humans who live with them are a special breed of people. Not sane but special.

So as today is the Feast of the Epiphany I thought I’d offer some epiphanies regarding Hounds (although I myself would have preferred the feast):

Human Epiphanies Regarding Hounds

It’s not all about me; it’s all about the Hound.

Having a dog sit in your lap can be a painful experience.

Hounds are unceasing founts of unconditional love—for themselves.

Electronic devices are edible.

Hounds are neither deaf nor stupid they just don’t want to do what humans want them to do.

All those things that disappeared didn’t get lost.If I If If have it he wants it.

If I want to do it he won’t want me to do it.

If I don’t want him to do it he will want to do it.

Handsome is not necessarily as handsome does.

Cute on the outside leads to bad behavior on the inside.

Whereas the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man, the outside of a Hound is good for shoving a man off a bed.

One can lose one’s lunch without ever having eaten it.

Who’s walking whom is never really in question.

The purpose of a Hound’s flews is to collect miscellaneous and contraband material (unswallowed pills, rotting tennis balls, decayed vegetation, pieces of kibble, etc.) for later dispersal in locations likely to cause the most inconvenience (under the sheets, on top of the furniture, in the bathtub, on the walls etc.).

Pedestrians do not have a sense of humor when being hit in the face with flying drool.

“Personality”=badly behaved.

Hounds have a wonderful temperament as long as they get what they want.

People who told you about their Hound’s antics weren’t exaggerating.

Anyway, my human Maria had an epiphany about me—she realized that if I am exercised extensively and until exhaustion I am less likely to destroy her house, something she realized too late with her previous two bloodhounds.

As a consequence Maria called upon the services of her dog-loving friend Elizabeth to help out, as exercising me extensively and until exhaustion is manifestly a two-person job. Then Elizabeth—who has been very successful as a volunteer trainer of shelter dogs—had an epiphany about me too: I’m not trainable. Fortunately she is, so we get on quite well.

But it would be remiss of me as a history loving Hound not to note that January 6th is an auspicious date for things not working out too well for the English monarchy—King Harold was crowned on this date in 1066, an event that William the Conqueror had something forceful to say about. But Our Bill did bring bloodhounds to the Scepter’d Isle so it all worked out in the end. Except if you were a Saxon king. And today is the birthday of Richard II who inherited the crown of England as an obnoxious ten-year-old boy and got deposed as an obnoxious 32-year-old man. He had apparently not learned that crucial Houndish lesson that being obnoxious, dictatorial, self-worshipping, self involved and abusing power are all absolutely fine as long as you are also cute and charming.

But in the here and now, what week would be complete without spending my humans’ money on a visit to the vet! This time it was for anal gland issues, a condition which has given a whole new dimension to my usual Hound stink and engendered yet another round of (turkey administered) medication. I also got to weigh in and am finally up to 128lbs—my weight before I got sick last spring!

The important thing about gaining my weight back is that I have regained my weight advantage over Elizabeth. It was bad enough being sick but having her outweigh me led to some serious consequences, like not being able to go where I wanted. (Sadly, my other human Maria is too tall to ever offer me much of a weight advantage).

But Elizabeth did figure out a way to use my weight advantage, especially when I want to go one way and she another (which is most of the time) to perform an exercise recommended by her physical therapist (a good physical therapist is de rigeur for anyone involved with Hounds). The exercise is usually done by holding onto something immovable, like a ballet barre or a locked front door knob and leaning back with one’s full weight to stretch the back muscles. Being the immovable object in the exercise is quite an impressive feat of strength on my part and a real crowd pleaser. But after showing off my cement block-like abilities I like to move unexpectedly which releases the tension on the leash and sends Elizabeth flying backwards. It’s all good fun and at least when she’s done picking herself up off the ground her back muscles have gotten a nice stretch. And some people a good laugh—I’m all about entertainment

Well as you can imagine I have been out and about quite a bit this week—meeting and greeting and cadging and stealing to celebrate the New Year. We had a couple of arctic like days, which necessitated me getting fleeced, not something I am generally in favor of or cooperative about.

However, as with everything I do there is entertainment value and I rather like being chased around by frustrated humans brandishing my chartreuse fleece. And as the chase all ends with mouthfuls of turkey and fistfuls of cookies it is a game well worth playing.

But as befits the first full week of the New Year I would like to examine some top New Year’s resolutions and see how having a Hound like myself affects the process:

Top New Year’s Resolutions

1. Drink Less Alcohol: On the one hand the potential deleterious affects of walking a large, powerful and advantage-taking Hound whilst in a state of inebriation are unlikely to be conducive to staying out of the Emergency Room. But on the other hand once the large, powerful advantage-taking Hound has been walked humans often find that the salubrious effects of a large glass of gin are a helpful remedy in recovering from the experience.

Particularly if the Hound has stuck his head into someone’s shopping bag or poked a neighbor in the backside.

2. Eat Healthy Food: This one only works if the Hound somehow dislikes the healthy food and is disinclined to steal it. Hounds impede the eating of any type of food through mechanisms such as stealing it, leaving nose prints on it, flinging great gobs of shimmering drool upon it or releasing large quantities of appetite suppressing gas

at meal times.

3. Get a Better Job: Hounds can be quite helpful in this regard owing to the incentive our humans have to earn increasing amounts of money to pay for all the stuff we destroy, our vet bills and the large numbers of toys we require to distract us so we don’t destroy even more stuff. That is in addition to acquiring excellent health insurance benefits for the odd Hound-related tumble down the stairs and other such mishaps.

In addition, humans who live with Hounds make excellent employees as their Hounds permit them to take few vacations.

4.Get fit and lose weight: Here we Hounds really excel at being helpful (if you net out the gin effect). We require copious amounts of outdoor exercise (cardio), pull like freight trains (abs and upper body) and change directions abruptly and powerfully in response to scent that you can’t see or smell (balance, agility and flexibility).

We also make eating rather difficult (see eat healthy food) and are prone to exercising our droit de seigneur in the matter of food sharing, particularly for foods high in calories.

5. Save Money: We Hounds do not encourage the saving of money; we encourage (require might be more accurate) the spending of money. On us.

6. Quit Smoking: Hounds can help with this. First if you smoke it is difficult to breath when in pursuit of a Hound in pursuit of a fast moving furry animal, a dog it wants to play with or a distant piece of garbage detected by its powerful nose. Second, the money spent on cigarettes is going to be needed to pay the Hound’s bills.

7. Manage Stress: Although normal dogs have been shown to lower blood pressure we Hounds are guaranteed to raise it. But we can help you achieve a Zen-like tranquility if you are willing to forgo your attachment to material objects and the esteem and approval of your fellow humans.

8. Take a Vacation: Don’t even think about it.

Well I think that is all for this week. The New Year is off to a fine if smelly start.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a Resolute Hound