Friday, September 28, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #278

Entry #278
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.

Wolf: Not that kind of closet! The real one.

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.

The End.

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!”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #277

Entry #277
September 21, 2012

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey, Manhattan’s worst behaved bloodhound, coming to you from the Upper West Side where to know me is to want to kill me. At least this week.  It all probably has something to do with the cooler weather but my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth think it has something to do with me being an evil spawn.   

Generally Maria blames Elizabeth for my bad behavior because although Elizabeth is a volunteer trainer of behaviorally challenged shelter dogs she turns her powers to the dark side where I am concerned.  She finds it entertaining to reward me for all kinds of things her other canines aren’t permitted to do because the result is never dominance or aggression but rather comical (at least to her) brattiness.  The again she doesn’t have to live with me.

So you can imagine how thrilled Maria is when she brings out my walking equipment and I roll over to have my belly rubbed and Elizabeth helpfully suggests that you if you say  “Wimsey do you want a cookie?” in a wheedling tone of voice, I’ll get up.  Maria also enjoys me frequently stabbing her in the abdomen with my snout during our walks because I fancy a cookie or me refusing to eat my kibble unless something pleasing to my palate is put on top of it or me sitting on one of her body parts and demanding to be scratched because I have woken up from my nap.  Or any of the other fun “rituals” that Elizabeth has established (Where I am concerned, Elizabeth is kind of like the anti matter version of Cesar Millan and Victoria Stilwell rolled into one). Needless to say this causes Maria to narrow her eyes suspiciously each time a new bratty behavior emerges and ask (or accuse) Elizabeth “Did you teach him that?!”

But as good a trainer as Elizabeth is she can’t really teach me much when it comes to bratty behavior; I feel she can only suggest new avenues for the expression of my natural talent. But there is such a thing as being hoist by your own petard and I greatly fear Elizabeth experienced this during her attempt to bath me by herself on Monday.  For instance, when both my humans bathe me they want me to face away from the hose so naturally I always try to face towards it; when Elizabeth bathes me alone she does actually want me to face towards the hose so on Monday I insisted (rather vigorously I am afraid) in facing away from it.  It was not a propitious start to the bath and went rather downhill from there. Especially when I decided that being tethered to the embedded ceramic soap dish in the wall was in fact a test of my strength that I was determined to pass.  The resulting fear of incipient tile damage caused Elizabeth to feel the need to pin me against the tub wall with her body. This in turn resulted in her getting soaking wet and in her legs getting coated in an unsavory mixture of de-yeasting shampoo and my hair (did I mention it is shedding season?). She looked like an irate abominable snowman. 

 The toweling off process did not go much better, especially when I dove under the sink and threatened to upend it.  This did however cause my immediate liberation from the bathroom and the forking over of a bully stick in hopes of limiting the wet spot on the rug to one location. Positive reinforcement is very important.

But the week started off exciting even before the bath—Elizabeth discovered a large centipede on her wall on Saturday when I was not around and had to call Maria to come over and kill it.  It turns out that Elizabeth is deathly afraid of bugs. And although Maria thought this was hilarious we won’t speak of what happens when she sees a mouse.  Elizabeth was going to call for one of the building’s elevator operators to kill the centipede but the last time she called for bug assistance the guy fell over himself laughing and laughed every time he saw her after that.  This might have had something to do with the fact that she had just finished fostering and training a 90lb Rottweiler mix with “issues” which apparently was no cause for alarm unlike the terror inducing presence of a two inch water bug. So one human is afraid of mice but not bugs and the other is afraid of bugs but not mice and they are both afraid of me when I shake my head in a crowded room full of well-dressed people. 

But luckily I am not a dog with ”issues.” Rather, I am a dog with “personality.” I love canine euphemisms! There is the dog that is “loyal” (he will kill you if you get near his human), “active” (if you don’t plan on a running a marathon with him he’ll eat the couch), “easily bored” (fail to amuse him at your peril), “intelligent” (he will always outsmart you to figure out how to get what he wants which is seldom what you want), “independent” (he doesn’t care about you, he cares about him),  “talkative” (sound proof your house and buy ear plugs), “territorial” (what’s his is his; what’s yours is his; in fact, it’s all his), “cheerful” (he doesn’t mind in the least being reprimanded for peeing on the carpet. Again), “ a fine companion” (you’ll never have go to the bathroom alone) and “confident” (he knows best).

Anyhow, my bath on Monday was in aid of the fact that (apart from general reekiness) on Wednesday I had an appointment with the specialist surgical vet at Blue Pearl Vet Hospital on 55th Street (formerly NY Vet Specialists where I had surgery 18 months ago).  Now I frequently go down there to see this guy when an issue crops up that either my regular vet wants a second opinion on (trust me, you do not want to be the vet who misses anything where my health is concerned) or when I develop some inexplicable symptom that has everyone scratching their heads.  This time it was to check that there was nothing amiss causing my recent tush issues and to take a look at the lick granuloma on my paw that did not seem to be healing (I don’t actually wish the lick granuloma to heal because having compresses put on it 4 times a day means being fed turkey and getting extended scratching sessions 4 times a day). 

But I love going down to Blue Pearl because virtually as soon as the appointment is made my issue disappears and my humans (once again) look like idiots.  The vet is so used to me being brought in for nothing that I suspect he wonders if Munchausen Syndrome by proxy can apply to people with dogs as well as with kids. So the vet pokes and prods and as usual finds nothing wrong and gives my human the kind of indulgent look reserved for small, misguided children.  I like this guy.

So what with all the vet excitement, I’m afraid I was in a bit of a “mood” (another euphemism—it means that I am being rampantly and excessively disobedient, oppositional and willful, even for me).  Our route took us north along the Hudson River through Hudson River Park, to Riverside Park South to Riverside Park itself and then back to Elizabeth’s.  And if you’ve ever fantasized about what a walk with a bloodhound in a “mood” is like, here’s what happened:

What do you mean we’re going north! That way heads home. I want to go south!

Look! There are geese on that lawn! I want to get to know those geese better.

What do you mean that sign says “no dogs on lawn”? 

If the geese are on the lawn I am going on that lawn.

I’m thirsty. Give me water from the fountain.

What do you mean the fountain is broken; you’re lying. I’m not moving until you give me water.

I’m hungry. I haven’t had lunch yet. Give me a cookie.

I don’t want to go that way, I want to go this way.

I don’t care that that path is for bicycles. They can go around me.

Who put this fence here?! I want to smell something over there. Take it down!

Oh, look. Another sign that says I’m not permitted on this lawn. I’m gonna lie down on the grass.

Gimme a cookie.

I find these ornamental plants much tastier than the regular grass I usually eat.

So you want to photograph me in front of the new artwork in the park? How much turkey have you got?

Did you know bloodhounds can eat their weight in turkey?

I’m an art lover—this installation is rather tasty.

What do you mean this is a work of art and I’m not supposed to climb on it?

Look! Another selection of ornamental plants for me to eat.

This fountain works. Give me water.

I want fresh water—there’s drool in this water now.

My face is wet. Gimme your pant leg.

I’ve had a drink now I need a cookie.

What do you mean that guy didn’t like having my nose in his tush!  Where am I supposed to put my nose?

The sign says I am supposed to keep off the ornamental grasses—it doesn’t say I am not supposed to eat them or pee on them.

You can’t seriously still be heading north. 

I want to go west. What’s this river doing here! Remove it.

Look! It’s the Pier One café. I want a burger.

If you aren’t buying me a burger give me a cookie.

All those cookies are making me thirsty. Give me a drink.

This is the way home! NOOOOO.  If I walk real slow it will never happen.

OK, you’ve forced me home. What’s all this kibble doing in my bowl? What’s for lunch?

Yam and chicken? Sounds good. Wait. What happened to the rest of this chicken’s body? I bet it’s here in this refrigerator somewhere.

OK, time for my nap. Move. You’re in my spot.

Well you get the idea.  And I’m afraid today’s walk, which was supposed to be short, wasn’t, on account of me needing to conduct an extensive investigation of Upper West Side and Central Park real estate in order to properly evacuate my bladder and bowels.  And in addition it featured me having my way so to speak with the all tourist bottoms parading about in front of the American Museum of Natural History. 

I also kept trying to pee where I wasn’t supposed to.  I know this seems tough to do in New York City, but you have to be creative; there are people’s bicycles (preferably while they are in visual range), the top of stairs to people’s brownstones, items at the curb people are loading into their cars and of course my perennial favorite, Post Office mail bags. Then as we approached Grom Gelato, I’m afraid I became overcome with emotion and caused Elizabeth to have to hang onto a pole to stay upright. But who could refuse Grom Gelato to so ardent a Hound?  It was delicious and the counter person now knows to bring out the gelato with a large stack of napkins (the abundant activity of my salivary glands being a salient feature of my gelato eating activities).

So all things considered it was a pretty good week. For me. Not for my humans.  Or for the centipede. Or for the put upon (or put into) tourists. But as we know, none of them matter. Because I am a dog with a lot of “personality” and Maria and Elizabeth are humans with a lot of gin.

Well I think I will leave it there for this week.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a Hound always in a good mood

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #276

Entry #276
September 14, 1012

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from the Upper West Side of Manhattan where, although we are still having warm weather, it is clear from my insistence on remaining outdoors all afternoon that fall is on its way.  And although my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are relieved that my vampiresque sunlight avoidance seems to be on the wane they are not entirely pleased with my desire to resume multi hour outdoor sojourns. Like pretty much everything else that has to do with me, you just can’t win.  My fall behavior is kind of like a reverse Roach Motel: I check out but I don’t check in—at least not without a lot of upper body strength on the part of my humans. And a well-stocked treat pouch doesn’t hurt either.

Well September brings many things to New York including the resumption of school. I know my humans miss school and think that there are some math equations that they wished they had learned:

Hound Math
Drool+ hardwood floor=trip to the emergency room

Kitchen counter + sandwich+ Hound=kitchen counter

Hound - poop=human with plastic bag hunting poop in giant bush

Rain+ Hound=lovely long walk (for Hound)

Sub zero weather + Hound= lovely long walk (for Hound)

Beautiful sunny weather + Hound= Hound’s refusal to come out of the air conditioning

Squirrel + Hound=dislocated shoulder

Hound+ you+ your dinner = you - your dinner

Hound + your dinner ÷ by baby gate= splinters

Hound + you + bed= you + floor

Hound + garden= facsimile of the moon

Hound + neighbor’s cat= Hound head in cat flap

Hound + Hound greeting canine friend=neighbors - sleep
Hound + Squeaky tennis ball= human + gin

Hound + vet= human - bank account

Human + Hound= no life

Human - Hound= boring life

Well you get the idea.  Now even though it’s been a quiet week around here—at least if you don’t count my obsession with playing squeaky ball soccer (which by the way I have discovered is a lot more fun when I make Elizabeth play it with me instead of getting any work done)-I have been around and about a bit. 

Here I am down at Lincoln Center where New York Fashion Week is in full swing.  Every day my humans get to read what exciting new fashions will be in style for people who don’t live with me.  For them what will be in style is drool stained jeans (spring, summer, fall collection), baggy drool stained jeans over long underwear (winter collection) drool and mud stained tee shirts (short sleeved for spring and summer, long sleeved for fall), hair and drool encrusted raggedy sweaters (fall and winter collections), an enormous assortment of ugly drool stained outerwear with multiple capacious pockets bulging with my stuff (fall and winter collections) plus must have accessories: large fanny pack (4 season) and crampons (winter collection only).  Elizabeth did rebel against my style dictates once this summer and wore a short summer skirt. Fortunately she remembered not to wear a thong with it but unfortunately she forgot to bend her knees when picking up my poop. I’m probably not the only one whose going to be in a few holiday snaps.

Thus fashion remains a mystery to my humans. Also a mystery to them is how I managed to acquire a pungent and distinctive swampy odor when I have not been permitted to disport myself in any illegal bodies of water since my last bath.  My humans fear that through a hideous genetic mutation I may have acquired the ability to produce swamp smell along with the more traditional Hound stink.  I greatly fear that there may be a B-A-T-H in my future (perhaps if I spell it my humans won’t do it).  As an aside, It is astounding how many people end up on my blog because they googled “Do Hounds Stink?” which always causes my humans to start screaming loud affirmations at the computer.  Do the un-Hounded masses really not know that we stink?

Well let’s see what else is new—did you know that September 14th is the birthday of Ivan Pavlov, a man near and dear to my heart because of his profound understanding of dog drool. And in that spirit whenever I hear a pill bottle being opened I begin raining copious quantities of Pavlovian drool all over my humans’ floors because where there are pills there is turkey.  Of course where there are pills and turkey there is also a talented Hound who manages to ingest one without the other. Multiple times.  This maximizes the amount of turkey I consume whilst minimizing the number of pills that I swallow and at the same time maximizes the amount of hair my humans pull out of their heads.  Just for variety sometimes the pill comes flying out of my mouth, sometimes the pill just seems to drop out of my mouth and sometimes the pill appears as if by magic many hours later in a variety of locations that are not my stomach.
But in honor of Pavlov here are some other of my conditioned responses:

The stimulus: Newspapers on the floor
The response: The urge to lie on top of them

The stimulus: Newspapers on your lap
The response: The urge to lie on top of them

The stimulus: Your presence on the couch
The response: The need to place my body where your feet should go

The stimulus: A human looking at a TV or computer screen
The response: The need to place my body or my head between the human and the screen.

The stimulus: A human looking in a rear view mirror
The response:  A need to look back at them in the rear view mirror

The stimulus: A human about to prepare a meal
The response: The need to sprawl out in the middle of the kitchen so cooking resembles a game of Twister

The stimulus: A human requiring me to move
The response: My transformation into 125lbs. of dead weight

The stimulus: A human wishing to go north
The response: The urgent need to go south

The stimulus: The appearance of dense vegetation
The response: The urgent need to poop in the middle of it

The stimulus: A human in a hurry
The response: The absence of the need to poop in the middle of anything

The stimulus:  Going out for an early morning walk
The response: The need to bay loudly to let everyone in the neighborhood know

The stimulus: A human in possession of something
The response: The urge to make them in possession of nothing

Of course I have many other conditioned responses: like this week I have to once again apologize for the paucity of photos.  But that is largely because when I see the camera I do something like this and it frequently takes more patience than my humans possess do get enough photos.  Also I have been in the mood to take city street walks lately during my afternoons with Elizabeth.  Trying to photograph me on a busy city street is an invitation for me to eat something off a table at a sidewalk café or shove my nose into someone’s purse or to fling drool in someone’s face or to ambush a passing dog or to lie down in the middle of the street so everyone has to step over me. None of which makes you especially popular with your fellow citizens.

And also on the subject of conditioned responses, here you see me apparently resting my chin on a marble railing---the fact that the Grom Gelato truck is a block away behind the trees in the exact direction that my nose is pointing is entirely co-incidental.

What is not coincidental is the fact that when Elizabeth wishes to put a warm compress on my paw I let her do it while when Maria wants to do it I initiate a spirited game of leg tug of war.  I would like to tell you that Elizabeth has healing hands but really she has a healing bag of turkey. As Mary Poppins famously said, a fistful of turkey makes the medicine go down (eventually).  But I digress (although given the importance of turkey in my life it’s a wholly justifiable digression).

Fortunately humans also have many useful conditioned responses—like those that involve petting, admiring and feeding a large, adorable Hound. And also not presenting the dry cleaning bill to the Hound’s less adorable humans.  Anyway, I think I will leave it there for this week. I noticed another pound of turkey plus some roast beef going into the refrigerator that require my urgent attention.

Until next time,

Wimsey, 1 Hound divided between 2 Humans equals Spoiled Hound2