Friday, October 25, 2013

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #321

Entry #321
October 25, 2013

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here, coming to you at last from the newly autumnal precincts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side where the cooler weather has made me a happy Hound but as usual, the things that make me happy tend to make my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth unhappy.  This time around the cause of the unhappiness was not my propensity to socialize instead of eliminating or to monopolize the furniture or to fling drool at people or to shred things that my humans would prefer remain undshredded, but rather my love of long autumnal walks. Make that extremely long autumnal walks.  And I am afraid that instead of writing a blog post last Friday I indulged instead in one of my endless park perambulations for which I am justifiably famous. 
But I can assure you that my intentions were wholly unselfish as the cooler weather also signals the advent of cold and flu season and Elizabeth fell prey to a nasty cold that making its way around our little island.  This was quite surprising as it is a well-known fact that humans who live with Hounds succumb far less often to these ailments than those (poor unfortunates) who live without Hounds.  There is a theory being bruited about that this occurs because humans who live with Hounds can’t afford to take time off from work because they know that that next humongous vet bill is just around the corner.  But this is really a myth (the theory, not the vet bills). People who live with Hounds fare better in cold and flu season because we Hounds make excellent nurses.

For example, rather than allowing Elizabeth to languish uselessly on the couch, I insisted that the fresh air and exercise of an afternoon spent in Central Park with me would prove much more beneficial.  It could have been worse—I could have made her spend the afternoon visiting banks and pet shops or better yet, the neighborhood construction sites of which I am so fond. Fortunately Elizabeth was in no position to object because when we set out for the park she was wholly unaware that we were going to spend the whole day there. In fact, here is a picture of me after a mere hour in the park reacting to a chirpy “Let’s go home Wimsey.”  In my experience there is nothing quite so humiliating to a humans as being sneered at by their Hound. My humans know that when they see this face it is just better to keep walking and hope that I will decide that that I want my lunch or dinner and perambulate home.  But in this case, I decided that Elizabeth’s health took (temporary) priority over my stomach and I kept her outdoors for the duration. Of course I did demand periodic feedings of the turkey and cookies that Elizabeth always wears around her waist to sustain me during those long hours away from my food bowl.

Here is another picture of me from last Friday—I am posed majestically in front of the Ladies Room at the Central Park Tennis Courts.  The walk had gone on for so long at that point that Elizabeth was forced to avail herself of the facilities in spite of the fact that the stalls (unlike the ones at the Delacorte theater) are too small for me to fit into-- not for want of me trying mind you.  I have important supervisory duties on these occasions.  Fortunately, the facility was empty at the time so no budding Maria Sharapova was forced to flee at the sight of a giant Hound hogging the bathroom. However, with so many lovely and tempting leaf piles scattered around at this time of the year I do think it is a shame that my humans don’t seem willing to take full advantage of them. Leaf peeing is one of the great joys of the season.

But Hounds are useful in several other ways when you have a cold:

Wimsey Nightingale’s Tips for Dealing with a Cold

1. Drink plenty of hot tea accompanied by small pastries or Hungarian cookies. Feed these to your Hound to avoid putting on extra pounds as you convalesce.

2. While resting on the couch apply a large, warm Hound to your body to alleviate aches and pains (or at least those caused by the cold).

3.  In case of fever, apply the lips and flews of a large Hound who has just refreshed himself with a cool drink of water to your warm forehead.

4. Make sure that your bed has plenty of fluffy pillows and cushy blankets. Your Hound likes to be comfortable when he serenades you to sleep with his soothing Snoring Hound Lullaby.

5.  Have plenty of tissues lying around, preferably used and don’t worry about cleaning them up.

And of course a major benefit of having a cold is that you can’t smell anything, especially not the gastronomic results of those pastries and cookies.

But I confess that although I had every intention of writing a blog post during the week, the piles of crunchy leaves, the crisp autumn air and above all my unselfish devotion to Elizabeth’s health that necessitated taking her on very long walks put a considerable dent in my time management plans. 

In addition to being cold and flu season it also happens to be Wimsey Health Check Season-- the time of the year when my humans turn their attention to discovering any of my medical needs.  X-rays, ultrasounds, blood and urine tests—you name it, if it can be done to me, my humans will want to do it to me.  This week Elizabeth turned her hand to trying to get me to pee in a cup all by herself.  Normally it is Maria’s job to trail after us and dive under me when it looks like I am contemplating a leg lift.  I think it is massively entertaining to lift my leg, watch Maria dive and then change my mind and put it down again.  I mean what is the point of peeing if she’s going to steal the pee, In addition, we bloodhounds are not known for our generosity or our willingness to share, even pee. The very fact that my humans want my pee transforms it into a valuable commodity and therefore one that must not be dispensed casually.
So this week Elizabeth picked up the cup and gloves alone and bravely decided to play the Wimsey Pee in a Cup game.  Accordingly she waited, crouched in anticipation, for me to commence operations at every fire hydrant, tree and trash bag. And when she saw that I was actually peeing she would try to position the cup under the stream.  I say try, because one of the great advantages of being a male dog is that you can direct the stream in any direction that you choose and I chose to direct the stream so that it would not fall in the cup. If Elizabeth moved the cup, I moved the stream. It was all great fun. At least for me. 

And this week has also been fun because of the extended amount of time that I have been able to spend in the park. Every afternoon Elizabeth sternly admonishes me that we are only going out for an hour. And every afternoon she is wrong. So how do I do it?

Wimsey’s Tips for Park Procrastination

Engage in lengthy and frequent sniffing in a manner that suggests that a desired eliminatory function is imminent.  Then save all poopage for the end of the walk.
Engage in extensive grass rolling operations which, in addition to being cute, turns a mobile bloodhound into 130lbs of immobile dead weight.
Climb up on park benches and refuse to move.

Greet tourists and pose for pictures thus encouraging humans to engage in lengthy and admiring conversations about you.

Demand frequent drinks at the many water fountains throughout the park.

Stop and stare at the treat pouch. Make humans offer an assortment of snacks before judiciously choosing which one you will consume. Do not move until you have fully masticated the snack.

Socialize with passing canines.

Take paths that lead in the opposite direction from the park exits closest to home.
Don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere (except away from the park exits closest to home)—stop and sniff the ground, sniff the air, sniff passersby. If it exists, it can be sniffed.

Find sticks to chew on or water bottles to dismember.

Visit with the pedicabs.

Be opportunistic—stop and become mesmerized by any unusual activity such as performance artists, musicians or (like today) men unloading a truck of audio visual equipment in front of the Boat House Restaurant. (NB: this latter effort also meant that the men stopped to chat with Elizabeth about me).

If forced to head to a park exit squeak pathetically and make your humans feel guilty. Then vigorously suggest alternative routes.

And if forced to leave the park, all is not lost--there are pet shops and banks with cookies that can be visited on the way home.

Then there is the day that I met my little Frenchie buddy Pluto in Riverside Park and neither of us would go in any direction without the other. Pluto’s human finally had to pick him up and carry him out of the park.  Fortunately, my humans don’t have that option.

And this Thursday is Halloween and there are some amazing decorations here on the Upper West Side, none of which I am allowed to mess with.  There has been a lot of posting on Facebook and such about Halloween costumes for dogs and questions about the best Halloween costume for bloodhounds.  Let’s be clear, the best Halloween costume for bloodhounds is no Halloween costume for bloodhounds. Fortunately, although Elizabeth seems to be in charge of buying me my coat wardrobe and my seasonal Christmas ruff, my primary human, Maria, has always put her foot down on the matter of not permitting Halloween costumes. And Maria’s word is law. Except when I disagree with her—then her word is a suggestion. Or a fantasy.  Anyway, it is a moot point since I am sure that they don’t make pirate or shark costumes in my size (Although my humans would probably find the Wizard of Oz’s Scarecrow more appropriate. However, from where I sit ((atop the couch)), intellect is a vastly overrated attribute).

Anyway, I am off to have a well-deserved rest after all that fresh air, exercise and being annoying.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a 24/7 trick or treating Hound

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #320

Entry #320
October 12, 2013 

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey coming to you from the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I have been creating the usual ruckus among its inhabitants and garnered quite a few “wretched Hound”s this week from my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth who must bear the brunt of my Houndly activities.  This is owing to the fact that Maria is foolish enough to like bloodhounds and Elizabeth is foolish enough to help Maria out and take care of me during the day. But to be fair, Elizabeth thought she liked bloodhounds before she got to know me better. Now she just looks at Maria, shakes her head and utters the existential question that has plagued mankind for centuries (or at least since the Middle Ages when my ancestors arrived at the Monastery of St. Hubert), “Why?” I think a lot about this too, because bloodhounds certainly wouldn’t put up with bloodhounds if we were human—we are far too devoted to our comfort and getting our own way for that. Also, we are apparently too intelligent.                                     

Yes! In an astonishing document that has been burning up the track of bloodhound social media, bloodhounds rank #3 in intelligence according to a new AKC list! Well this was certainly news to anyone who has ever tried to train one and it did produce a momentary frisson of fear in me that I would suddenly be expected to obey obedience commands. But as with most great things, the devil is in the details—in this case, a couple of all important weasel words, specifically: “10 dog breeds that excel in intelligence, especially when it comes to the job they do.” (Italics mine).  Without those weasel words, bloodhounds usually make the list of the most unintelligent breeds  (of course I have been sleeping in the bed this week and Maria has been sleeping on the couch so that point is arguable as well).

For the uninitiated out there, weasel words are beloved by those who ply the pen for a living but if you are unsure of what these are, here are some helpful examples:

The Bloodhound is generally an easy going canine (assuming he always gets his own way).

Bloodhounds can be quite entertaining (except when eating the couch)

Bloodhounds usually make good family dogs (assuming your kids don’t mind being deprived of their food and toys and don’t bruise easily when knocked over).

Bloodhounds are sometimes stubborn if not properly trained (but of course we can’t be trained, properly or otherwise)

Bloodhounds are occasionally destructive (those occasion being when they are awake), especially if not exercised enough (enough being defined as all waking hours).

The Bloodhound is probably not a dog for everyone (or anyone).

Anyway, getting back to the list, as you can tell, I was very taken with the phrase “especially when it comes to the job they do,” not only because of the weasel word content but because we do so many jobs.

Jobs That Bloodhounds Do

Nutritionist: We make sure that the bulk of any highly caloric food never makes it into your mouth and sometimes not even onto your plate. We confiscate dangerous foods such as steak (heart disease), hamburgers (E. coli) chicken (salmonella), sausage (who knows what’s really in it) cheese (listeria), and cakes and cookies (too much sugar) and the like.
Interior Designer: We change the look of your home through regular repurposing of your furniture as chew toys; we are experts at the art of unupholstering and the creation of one of a kind wall and ceiling art; we excel at carpet aeration as well as stuffing liberation for all your pillows, cushions and duvets.

Landscape architect: We extensively fertilize and water plants using only the freshest materials; we deadhead flowers, engage in shrubbery root oxygenation, give your fences and ornaments a distressed, rustic patina, excavate those pesky gophers and voles and even conduct some mining and oil exploration operations.

Clothing designer: We alter the shape, pattern and armhole content of existing wardrobes to create exciting new looks. You will never be accused of being too matchy-matchy by wearing the same shoe on each foot. We also turn clothing into a multi-sensory experience using our proprietary aromatherapy process.

Massage therapist: We apply both constant and intermittent acupressure as well as selective poking and thwacking to the nerves in all parts of your body, and especially to those troublesome spots like your bladder and gastric organs to increase nerve conduction and blood flow. Because of the vigor of the treatment it is recommended that gentlemen wear a cup.

Orthopedist: We insure that your spine stays in proper alignment by insisting that it get the support it needs when you sleep. During your nights on the floor we carefully monitor your alignment from our vantage point on the bed and we generously permit a blanket and pillow to be used unless they are too cushy.

Homeland Security Officer: We conscientiously conduct random inspections of all bags, purses and conveyances carried by the perambulating public and confiscate items requiring advanced inspection.  In addition, we conduct surprise nose wand inspections of the legs of selected pedestrians, particularly those whose legs are bare and make sure that no one is carrying anything unusual in their underwear.
Comedian: We are a never-ending source of fun and entertainment as we pelt people in the face with gobs of drool scare the bejesus out of them by sneaking up on them and baying loudly, sample their sandwiches, steal their water bottles and create hilarious smells when they try to eat. 

Household Ecology Officer: We ensure that your household stays green by taking everything and anything and turning it into (large) mounds of useful biodegradable organic matter.  We helpfully precycle the recyclables by shredding them into small pieces to make it easier for them to be processed

Fitness Trainer: We make sure that you never sit on the couch again (assuming that there is one left to sit on) by insisting on long, aerobic walks that simultaneously require both upper body and core muscle strength as you attempt to hang onto us.  We also ensure that you develop excellent balance and fast reflexes by employing our patented “I see a squirrel” workout protocol.

And in addition to all these many jobs, we also engage in the traditional employment of bloodhounds and find things. Important things such as the neighbor’s cat or that expensive handbag that you thought that you hid in the back of the closet or that dinner you were preparing but turned your back on.

I think that it is also a mark of high bloodhound intelligence that I can turn any situation to my advantage. As many of you know, taking me to the vet is one of my humans’ hobbies and they rather like the idea of peering inside me to make sure all is as it should be via X-rays and ultrasounds.  They are able to satisfy their endless curiosity as to the state of my innards because I like being X-rayed and ultra sounded (a whole team of people focused on me!) and don’t require sedation. So on Wednesday Maria took the day off and we all took a leisurely mile walk down to Blue Pearl, my specialist vet, to X ray my lungs and heart (apparently my regular vet doesn’t have equipment large enough for a canine of my magnificent proportions).  While I was being admired and fussed over by vets, vet interns and vet nurses my humans took themselves off to a Starbucks which just happened to be next to a pet store. So in they went and purchased a bag of what they thought were treats, but were really yummy freeze dried Orijen meat patty meals for small dogs. Oops. But to be fair, what is a meal for a small dog is a snack for me.

Anyway, heart and lungs were all good but my humans felt that the freeze-dried meat dog food was insufficient recompense for getting me zapped so we dropped by the Grom Gelato by Central Park (sadly the one around the corner from me closed). When the gelatista was informed of who was to reap the benefits of her gelato scooping skills she declined to charge my humans because it is not every day that there is a large baying Hound demanding your services. She was immensely tickled by the fact that Maria requested a spoon because I require gelato to be spoon-fed. All the central Park-bound tourists seem to share her amusement and my gourmandizing will certainly be the highlight of many vacations snaps.

Then as I had my two humans with me I decided that it would be an excellent thing to spend the afternoon in Central Park and engage in periodic al fresco snacking of those freeze dried patties.  My humans did not necessarily agree with this plan but somehow—I am guessing by dint of my superior intelligence-- I prevailed. And a mere 5 hours after leaving for the vet I returned home replete with gelato, a bag of small dog freeze dried meat dog food and the copious quantities of turkey that Elizabeth never seems to be without.  We also met a tourist in the park who asked in all seriousness about my abilities to come on command when off leash which, after my humans stopped laughing, elicited a polite version of  “Don’t be ridiculous, he’s a bloodhound” that I found very satisfying.It was almost as satisfying as what 5 hours with me did to Elizabeth’s new black autumn Hounding pants. In fact, they now look very similar to her black summer Hounding pants. Let’s just say that they are no longer black.
Well I think I will leave it there for this week. I stopped by for my usual visit to Unleashed on Friday where I spat out the crème cookie that I usually eat and that Elizabeth had assured the clerk that I would happily consume.  Then Elizabeth bought me a very loud Halloween monster head stuffie that I know she later regretted as she reached for the aspirin bottle. Maria once again accused Elizabeth of spoiling me, but this had minimal effect coming from a human who spent a good part of the week sleeping on the couch because she couldn’t bear the thought of disturbing me whilst I was asleep on the bed.

Until next time,

Wimsey, the Genius Hound

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #319

Entry #319
October 4, 2013

Hello Everyone, it’s me Wimsey, at long last coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where I continue to engage in my usual Houndish shenanigans.  I have been remiss about posting because my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have been very engaged in professional matters and naturally require my assistance to not get things done. Maria took off to Chicago on a business trip for a few days leaving me in the full time care of Elizabeth; Elizabeth had been up against a project deadline and needed my help to understand that the importance of making deadlines pales in comparison to the importance of entertaining me. I deputized Hedgie my very vocal hedgehog to remind her of this every time she got on an important phone call.  Amazingly, most people are too polite to ask her about the racket although one day the tables were turned when a call was interrupted because the caller’s Shih Tzu decided to try to do battle with a neighbor’s malamute.  Elizabeth magnanimously accepted the caller’s apologies for the interruption.  Fortunately for her Hedgie and I were having a nap. And when not in the paws of Morpheus, I like to sneak up on her when she is too engrossed in her computer to notice me and then shove the keyboard return under the desk and replace it with my head.  It never fails to make her jump. Or to scratch me.

Maria meanwhile spent entirely too much time working late before she absconded to Chicago where she checked into a room at the W that was larger than our apartment. Unfortunately she was unable to give herself over to the full experience of actually sleeping in a bed (I’ve been monopolizing the bed quite a bit lately forcing her to sleep on the couch) because she found the W’s amenities did not include the piping in of noxious Hound gas and their sound system did not feature loud Hound snoring, both of which form an essential part of a comfortable night’s sleep.

And meanwhile back at Elizabeth’s, I continued my tradition of climbing into bed with her at 7am, drooling on her face until she wakes up and then going back to sleep whilst she gets ready for our morning walk.  I am then indignant about being woken up when she is ready and refuse to go out without a suitable interval of belly rubbing and a liberal application of turkey.  

I also decided to channel my inner Pluto—my French bulldog friend who Elizabeth sometimes hosts when his humans reluctantly abandon him for places that it might be inconvenient for him to go—like to Paris—and just like him become an exemplary companion dog.  This entails following Elizabeth around to all the critical places like the bathroom and the kitchen and sitting in her lap when she is on the couch.  Although I have to say that the couch in Elizabeth’s apartment displeases me greatly because unlike the extra deep one that Maria bought especially to accommodate my posterior, Elizabeth has standard size one that fails to meet my extensive tushly requirements. I guess it’s a lot easier being a companion dog when you are 30 pounds and not 130.
But even though Elizabeth’s couch is uncomfortable, it frequently comes provisioned with a large number of newspapers which I can appropriate to make a lovely nest for my nap. And since there is no danger of Elizabeth ever being able to read these papers since I sit on her and thwack them with my bear claws when she picks them up, they might as well be put to good use. 
Anyway, when Elizabeth finally finished her project I helped her celebrate by taking her on what she referred to as “an endless walk to nowhere” because it involved visiting nowhere that she wants to go, like a nice verdant park but everywhere that I want to go, like the bustling Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle and a number of scenic far West Side construction sites that I find exceptionally interesting.  And I know how relaxing she finds it to navigate packed Manhattan streets with an oversized Hound who is dripping drool and who considers humans in his way to be inconsequential obstacles to be shoved aside with abandon.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate! 
And of course I was very pleased when Maria returned from her trip.  But not so pleased that I allowed her to medicate my ears and my eyes or to make her not have to hide in the bathroom while Elizabeth medicates my ears and eyes because if she is in visual range I won’t let Elizabeth do it either or not to demand cookies on our walks and then to sequentially spit them all out because I want turkey or duck heart instead. Being pleased to see my human has its limits.

But no diary entry would be complete without a visit to the vet—in this case not my vet, but the little vet from the ASPCA who I used to regularly visit when she worked at the cat hospital in my neighborhood.  Of course I still like to visit the cat hospital but for entirely different reasons.  We ran into the vet in Central Park demonstrating once again that even though New York has 8 million people, it’s still a village. And as my humans know, it takes a village to adequately spoil me.
Which brings me to my frequent visits to Lush Cosmetics to be fed and feted by their accommodating staff.  On my most recent visit my favorite Lush Lady, Jen, materialized with the requisite bag of cookies and she asked if I could sit.  Well this is a ridiculous question:  Can I sit? Of course I can sit. Will I sit? No. Why bother when I get fed treats anyway and obeying a “sit” command is the thin end of the wedge that could lead to such horrors as “come” and especially “drop it.” But I am not unreasonable; there is a time and place for everything.
Occasions Upon Which it is Appropriate to Sit

When it is time to leave the park.

When humans want to go in a direction that I find personally distasteful, which is any direction in which I am not currently going

When a human is on the couch in a spot I wish to occupy.

When a human is on the couch in a spot that I do not wish to occupy but is attempting to engage in behavior unrelated to me such as reading a book, reading a Kindle, reading an iPad, reading newspapers, watching television, talking of the phone or trying to have a nap.

When I am at the vet’s and a thermometer or a rubber glove appears

When I am in the bathtub and it is time to wash my nether bits

When ointment is put on my tush

When there is an object that my humans want that I can prevent them from getting

When my bottom is messy or stinky and I can transfer the problem to a convenient foot or to the freshly laundered sheets protecting the couch

When I wish to pin a human to a park bench

When there is any circumstance in which my humans don’t want me to

So as you can see, I frequently sit.  Sitting is a lot like baying—there is a time and a place which is generally always when no one wants you to do it (like on a 6am walk or when I sneak up behind someone who has no idea that I am there or when there is a little dog that is hiding behind its human) and never when people want you to do it (like when you walk through Elizabeth’s building and the whole staff starts baying at you to encourage you or when people ask your humans to make you do it).  In fact, lately when I have been out and about in the neighborhood complete strangers look at me and bay.  They may not know me but they have certainly heard me!
And although we are now having a bit of Indian summer (and the AC is on to cool me off) it is the season where my humans replace and replenish their cooler weather Hounding gear—like ordering a new collection of t shirts (long sleeved for the fall) to replace all the ones that have those peculiar stains that won’t wash out.  This year Elizabeth decided to introduce a daring fashion innovation and purchase corduroy pants which I am greatly looking forward to her wearing.  I am already planning all the things that I can stick between the fabric ribs—drool, dirt, mud, grass, hair, cookie crumbs, turkey bits and what is known around here as “miscellaneous organic matter of indeterminate origin “of which I always have a copious supply.  It’s going to be a glorious autumn!

I think I will leave it there for this week.  I will be hibernating until the warm, sticky weather pattern from Tropical Storm Karen passes, and although I am not a fan of violent weather I do miss it when there is no excuse for Maria and me to camp out at Elizabeth’s to ride out hurricanes. She makes me lasagna.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a champion sitter