February 14, 2014
Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey, coming to you from the snowy precincts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side where, yet again, a Weather Channel induced frenzy heralded the arrival of some pretty mundane winter weather. And much to the chagrin of my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth, I appear to be the only canine in the ‘hood who is not sporting either booties or Pawz on my delicate bear claws. I much prefer to lift my salt and snow encrusted tootsies and let my humans wipe away the salt and snow. This works much better than booties and makes it far more comfortable to walk. At least for me.
Well it’s been an exciting few weeks around here—what with Elizabeth crazed about finishing a project that got behind while she dawdled pointlessly in Maui for her birthday and the snowy weather and The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, etc. But before I forget, I want to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day and want you all to know just how much I love me. I hope you do too because I have serious doubts about the depth of affection of my humans. I realized this last week when Maria told a woman that, as a bloodhound, I can never be let off my leash safely and that I don’t go to the dog run, either. The woman snorted and told my humans that I have a terrible life (New Yorkers are never shy about expressing their opinions, especially where it concerns other people’s dogs or kids). But I was ecstatic! Finally a human who recognizes how terrible my life really is!
Reasons Why I, Wimsey, Have a Terrible Life
Elizabeth never puts enough butter on my baked yams.
Maria feeds me regular organic vanilla yogurt for breakfast instead of the creamier Greek kind.
Grom Gelato closed.
The snack assortment that my humans carry to feed me on my walks never has the one that I want.
When I am in the bathtub Elizabeth takes far too many breaks from feeding me turkey to wash me.
Maria hogs the bed and some nights insists on occupying it even though there is no room for her.
Elizabeth always wants to cut my park perambulations short after two hours to go back to work.
My pet shop tours to sample the cookies and inspect the merchandise are limited to two a week.
Maria often sits around for an entire minute before changing my water when I drool in it.
Elizabeth’s couch is uncomfortable.
My humans’ laps are too small.
Raincoats, winter coats and cooling coats.
No one ever wants to join me for a dip in the Lake in Central Park.
My humans insist on picking up my poop even though it took me hours to find just the right spot for it.
My humans call me “Sir” when they know very well that I prefer “Your Highness.”
My humans neglect me terribly and then blame in on things like having to eat, sleep, bathe or earn a living.
And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. And speaking of icebergs, the weather last week turned my favorite fields in Riverside Park into deeply pitted icescapes. All the boot tracks and footprints froze making walking through them a treacherous exercise in balance and foot placement-- so naturally that’s where I want to walk. I love to go from hole to hole having a good sniff in each one and if my humans topple over, so much the better. And when I take a break from going from ice hole to ice hole I go from snow bank to snow bank instead, rolling in each one. In addition to being fun and so much more interesting than relieving myself, snow rolling has the added benefit of defeating much of the purpose of my new, pricey, imported winter coat.
I love winter! Last night Maria came home early from work so I took the ladies on a two-hour deep powder extravaganza, the only downside being that everyone stayed upright. But in my defense, it was a near thing if all the squeaking and squealing were any indication. And we ran into my Ibizan Hound buddy, Phineas! We cadged cookies in stereo (Phineas is an expert cookie cadger despite his svelte physique and has already trained his human to give him an extra cup of kibble in the evening in exchange for an hour’s peace.). Phineas himself was never shown, but he comes of show stock and his relatives have been very successful at Westminster so there was much nattering amongst the humans about this year’s show and the paucity of Hound winners.
And speaking of Westminster, my humans were ringside for the breed judging and as usual had traumatic flashbacks to my days in the show ring when I chose to put my own unique stamp on the activity, much to their consternation. Indeed my loud and dynamic showing style is the stuff of legend- especially the time that I gaited around the ring with my nose pressed to the ground so that I could track the steps of my beloved Phoebe (Ch. Soonipi’s Dancin’ in the Moonlight) and finished my once around with my nose up her backside. I then insisted on stacking backwards so I could gaze adoringly into her exquisitely droopy face. She showed her approbation of all this by looking regal and by not biting me on the nose which, was her accustomed way of dealing with pesky male suitors. And let’s just say that when I was being shown you did not have to actually see me to know that I was there.
But my checkered show career (including three Westminsters!) was not for want of my humans trying. Every day Elizabeth would bundle up a huge pile of cavalettis, put them into a shopping cart and then haul them to Riverside Park to meet Maria and me. This was an attempt to teach me all about the joys of trotting nicely like a show dog instead of pacing not nicely like a Frankendog. Unfortunately all Elizabeth succeeded in teaching me was how to pace over cavalettis (a difficult, but masterable skill, especially when she kept changing the spacing to thwart my efforts) while baying loudly and poking her in the side to disgorge liver. But the neighborhood found it very entertaining to watch and to listen to and I cleaned up in the liver department. Sadly it was later determined that liver was too “high value” since instead of encouraging learning it merely encouraged baying. But the cavalettis were useful for chewing on.
But I digress. So the ladies went to Westminster, and not for the first time thought that it was very unfair that bloodhounds are supposed to gait with their heads up when our natural instinct is to gait with our heads down. And if our heads are up it is because we are air scenting and then we are moving them side-to-side, which is also not desirable in the show ring. But I would go further than that and say that many changes are called for since we bloodhounds have many fine instincts.
For instance, why could we not gait with a whole, stolen roast chicken in our mouths? Or perhaps with a nice brassiere or a pair of used panties? And why should we stand in that ridiculous pose that no Hound ever assumes when the judge could just as easily check that our feet were well knuckled up, that our ribs were well sprung and that our bits were all present and accounted for while we are lying on our backs demanding a belly rub-a position that a Hound always assumes. Also, the judge could determine firsthand that our forelegs were straight and large in bone when we thwacked him with them when he stopped scratching. And surely the amount of drool that we should be allowed to fling on the judge would be a fine testament to the depth of our flews. And instead of free stacking I would propose instead one of my own favorite pioneering innovations, the stalk stack, wherein one front and one back leg are extended and the body is lowered much as it is when there is a squirrel that needs to be surprised. This affords the judge a much better view of both our topline and our expression of wisdom, solemnity and power since the sneaking up of on squirrels is a matter of the utmost gravity. And since the bloodhound is supposed to be affectionate and not quarrelsome with other dogs I think socializing should be encouraged, particularly with the Lady Hounds and those dogs without nipped noses should be deemed the most attractive.
I have many other such excellent ideas that careen around in my pointy head (my prominent occipital peak, in breed standard speak) but many of them prove sadly unpopular with humans. Anyway, the ladies had a great time as usual at Westminster. They hung out with Rocket Man (GCH Flessner's International Space Station At Honidge) whose human, Judy, is an old friend of Maria’s. Rocket Man gallantly thwarted Elizabeth’s unfamiliar attempt to look nice by licking her face makeup off and thwarted Maria’s all too familiar attempt to stay vertical by knocking her over and sitting on her. Rocket Man may not have taken home the ribbon but he is a winner in my book!
And the ladies also mingled with Garth (GCH Soonipi Friends In Low Places Mlh) who took Select in what had to be a squeaker and then repaired to his kennel to console himself with his Beaver. According to Garth’s human, Karen, Garth loves his Beaver. I think most Hounds do.
But of course the Hound of the Hour was Rocket Man’s brother, Nathan (GCH Flessner's International S’Cess). The ladies had the good fortune to run into his owner- handler, Heather, a few years ago at a show in Harrisburg when she had the bad fortune to have a dog kenneled near me. Let us just say that I was very vocal about the unfairness of having to sit in my crate when confined and very vocal about the unfairness of not being able to socialize freely when not confined. Earplugs not included.Anyway, the ladies chatted with Heather after Nathan’s spectacular win in the Hound Group and she was just as surprised as anyone. She was of course extremely pleased to have made the cut and when the judge moved Nathan into the first spot right before it became official she was in such shock that she thought, “Well, it’s not over yet.” But it was over and it was all Nathan and all whoops of joy here in Houndistan on Hudson. Now although Nathan seems unnaturally quiet, I was relieved to see that he has mastered the mandatory head turn in response to the presence of Elizabeth with a camera. But she didn’t mind. She’s used to it. And on Best In Show night the bloodhound was the crowd favorite, probably because the people cheering don’t have to live with one.
Well I think I will leave it there for this week as I have much to think about. There was a comment left on one of my Facebook posts that suggested that my lying in the middle of a path in Riverside Park must have embarrassed my humans. This got me thinking about how minor an embarrassment that was compared to all the other things that I’ve done to them. But such pleasant reminiscences will have to wait---I still have all the grievances of my terrible life to nurse. Less chicken, more quail!
Until next time,