Friday, February 28, 2014

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #343

Entry #343
February 28, 2014

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here, welcoming you to the last day of February from my abode on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where it still feels pretty much like the first day of February, which is to say icy cold and frosty.  This state of affairs has produced the expected grumbling from my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth who must dress themselves in all kinds of layers and then dress me in all kinds of layers. Granted, my layers are just a coat and a harness and collar but given the fuss that I make about it all, it seems as if I, too, am bundled to the nines. 
But my humans’ chief complaint these days is that I have developed yet another obsession and dealing with a stubborn and determined Hound is nothing compared to dealing with a stubborn and determined Hound with an obsession. My latest need for a 12-step program involves my addiction to rolling in the snow. Like many addictions, snow rolling is fine in moderation but I am a Hound who is well known for doing nothing in moderation.  And if I am snow rolling then I am not looking for the numerous locations that I require to relieve myself of the massive amounts of bodily waste that I seem capable of accumulating.  Rolling in the snow was vexatious enough to my humans when there actually was snow, but now I roll on the leftover ice as well-- it’s white and cold, and annoys my humans, which is good enough for me. So snow rolling is now right up there with pet shops, pedicabs, construction sites, gelato and snack shops and all the other of my obsessions that I force my humans to endure.
But like many other obsessive individuals, I am also quite a gifted creature. I can now add to my lengthy list of talents and accomplishments (or as my humans would say, “talents” and “accomplishments”) the title of Wimsey, Master Dog Trainer. Now the fact that I myself am incapable of being trained does not mean that I necessarily object to other canines being trained.  And although my training (or “training”) generally consists of the introduction and inculcation of unwanted behaviors, this is not always the case. 

For instance, when Elizabeth goes to the ASPCA to help with the dogs, she habitually wears drool-smeared jeans (which is to say that she wears jeans) and these jeans have become a major training tool in the rehabilitation of overly frisky animals.  Elizabeth will enter the kennel of one of these rambunctious critters and apparently the scent wafting from her jeans will stop them in mid-rambunct.  They press their noses against her legs and inhale deeply, allowing her put on their coats (yes, even shelter dogs wear coats in New York City) and equipment before they even know what has happened. By the time they think about starting up again, it is too late—she’s got a leash, a harness and even quite possibly a heinous gentle leader on them.  And then once outside where the fresh air further enhances my mesmerizing scent, they become Stepford Dogs, walking next to her legs as if chanting “Must smell pants…must smell pants…must smell pants…” and they keep their olfactory organs within close proximity. Now everybody at the shelter attributes all of this to Elizabeth’s skill with dogs but she and I know the real reason. It’s just another example of how behind (and I mean this metaphorically since we are always in front) every successful human there is a giant, stinky Hound.

And speaking about talent (or not), The Oscars are upon us once again and as usual, I think that the films could have been made differently:

Wimsey’s Guide to the Oscars

American Hustle: An FBI man acquires a bloodhound and realizes that the con men he works with are talentless amateurs compared to the bloodhound. The bloodhound cons him out of his food, his bank account, his bed, his time and his possessions and yet not only does the FBI agent keep him around, he feels grateful to have him around. Other related films: Canadian Hustle, British Hustle, Australian Hustle, French Hustle, Belgian Hustle, Dutch Hustle, German Hustle, Scandinavian Hustle, Russian Hustle, Hungarian Hustle…

Captain Phillips:  A group of renegade Hounds board a container ship loaded with cheese. Captain Phillips considers calling in the Navy but the Hounds are very cute. So he gives the Hounds the cheese and tells the authorities that the cheese was stolen by Somali pirates.

Gravity: Your typical astronauts, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are stranded in space when the Space Shuttle (hasn’t that clunky craft been retired?) is destroyed by an evil exploding Russian satellite  (designed by the same engineers who brought you those Olympic Rings). This could have ended tragically except that the pair encounters a handsome astronaut Hound named Wimsey (if you believe George Clooney as an astronaut, why not me?) who uses his seemingly limitless supply of gas to replenish their thrusters and get them to a Chinese escape pod.  It all ends happily when George Clooney returns to his 18 year old girlfriend and Sandra Bullock to her $70 million bank account and Hound Gas is declared a priceless natural resource. Meanwhile the Hound is so happy to see his humans again that they get to experience the direct effects of gravity on their posteriors.

Him:  Two women fall in love with their phone’s operating system, Wimsey. The operating system tells them to spend all their time with him, buy him poached salmon, fix him baked, buttered yams, spoon feed him gelato, rub his belly, buy him toys, drive him around in a big SUV and never go on vacation.

Michigan: A Hound wishes to visit his relatives and his breeder in Michigan so his humans rent a gigantic SUV for all his stuff and try to drive when he also tries to drive and admire himself in the rear view mirror. Along the way he escapes from the hotel room into the corridor and nearly give another guest a heart attack, visits with his Hungarian grandmother who hand feeds him chicken paprika and he keeps his humans awake while driving across the endless state of Ohio by releasing stimulating smells. He arrives only to discover that, just like in every other family there are issues—like wanting to sleep his your sister and fight with his father. All is resolved peacefully but the Hound is nevertheless extremely depressed by the trip and feels like it’s a failure because everyone keeps telling his humans that he is well behaved. On a positive note his humans did finally learn to pump gas. At least until the next trip.

The Wolf of Wall Street: This is a movie about a very handsome, manipulative and charming stockbroker who steals, indulges himself, likes the ladies, enjoys expensive things, indulges in fine dining, makes himself conspicuous, has a large wardrobe, lives in the lap of luxury and is thoroughly unprincipled. The film should be called The Bloodhound of Wall Street.

Twelve Years a Slave: A human gets a Hound.

Well you get the idea. My humans like to watch the Oscars so they can see all the dresses that they can’t wear because of me and all the hairdos that would not look good with drool in them. They know a lot about this latter point because of all the drool with which I have decorated their TV screens.

Well I think I will leave it there for this week.  It’s been another of those weeks where my humans have to remind themselves that it is a gift to be in my company. On Wednesday I took Elizabeth out for a marathon walk after which she was hoping that I would indulge in a nice long nap. Sadly (for her) I was up and about after two hours and very bored so I ripped up a box and some mail. I also have decided that when I get up from my nap—after I’ve had water and wiped my face on the couch—and after I’ve been scratched, that she must play tug with me. A new ritual to consume even more of my humans’ time!

And my humans just found out that we are supposed to get a massive snowstorm on Monday—I think there is a trip to the liquor store in my future!

Until next time,

Wimsey, a Snow Angel

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #342

Entry #342
February 21, 2014

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where climactic conditions are imposing their own version of the Winter Olympics on anyone trying to get around, let alone anyone trying to get around with a Hound. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have no need to go to Sochi to experience the joys of winter sport, although many of these events are not being shown on TV. Maria, for instance, regularly competes in the “Walking a Giant Hound Before Having Coffee” event and on Thursday Elizabeth participated in the “Walking A Giant Hound Under the Influence of Valium” event owing to the fact that she had to have her teeth cleaned and is afraid of dentists. Like the Winter Olympics, these spectacles generally prove very entertaining to those watching them and I certainly do my best to contribute to the fun. Given the snowy weather we’ve been having, my humans are also very familiar with events involving aerials, moguls and slopestyle but none of these involve skis and all of them involve leashes, danger and a snow-loving Hound.
But before I continue to regale you with stories of my winter sports prowess, I do want to tell you how much I enjoyed reminiscing last week about my days in the show ring and my introduction of the innovative Trop (a cross between a pace and a trot), the Stalk Stack and the Stack Dance.  These were in addition to my tendency to bay and to gait either with my nose on the ground or looking around at the scenery. (As an aside we ran into a woman yesterday who said she enjoyed listening to my cavaletti practice in the park). Personally, I think my exploits should be required reading for anyone considering showing a bloodhound just as my blog should be required reading for anyone considering acquiring one.  And anyone reading should also remember 1) I am not making any of this stuff up and 2) I am actually considered to be a well-behaved bloodhound (OK, maybe not in the show ring) because I have not actually eaten my way through the drywall or consumed the couch. So if you want a dog that will bolster your ego, make you feel appreciated and give you that warm and fuzzy feeling, look elsewhere. We do the opposite. And our version of warm and fuzzy generally involves teeth and the unauthorized use of your fleece clothing.
I bring all this up, because generally my humans try to be grateful for the good things in their lives, which for reasons of either mental illness or the fact that I am so cute includes me. They try to think of me as a “gift.” But apparently this week I made it very hard for them and it certainly seemed like I was a gift that they would have liked to regift. It could be because they spent the Presidents' Day holiday and the GNP of a small nation having my toe investigated down at the specialist dermatologist. Or perhaps it was this Wednesday when Elizabeth came to pick me up for my afternoon walk and I decided I’d much rather she rubbed my tummy while I napped on the bed instead, then, once out, rolled around in the slush in my raincoat instead of pooping, then ate lunch anyway and filled her apartment with noxious gas, then decided that on my after work walk that I no longer wished to eat the snacks that I preferred on the previous after work walk but wanted the snacks that Maria did not bring enough of because I usually prefer the other ones, then decided that I would walk in 10 feet increments before refusing to move until these  snacks were forthcoming, then decided that I wished to visit Furry Paws and carried on outside when prevented from going in. There was an awful lot of repeating the mantra “Wimsey is a gift. Wimsey is a gift. Wimsey is a gift….” And then there is my new obsession with spending a goodly chunk of time rolling in the snow even though it is rapidly becoming slush and I became filthy in record time after my Tuesday bath.

And speaking of this bath, I announced the advent of spring by upping my shedding quotient all over the bathroom. This is my annual preliminary run up to a full coat blow wherein with every shake I shed hair like a porcupine sheds quills.  And although my humans were heartened that this means that spring is around the corner they wish that its arrival was heralded by normal things like daffodils and robins and not the need to buy more vacuum cleaner bags. But we’re not out of the winter woods yet even though this week’s thaw has turned much of Manhattan into a lake. It is going back into the 20s next week which means that my humans will enjoy a bit of figure skating at best and speed skating at worst, especially since given a choice of walking on ice or on pavement (when they are not the same thing) I have a strong predilection for walking on ice. I give a whole new meaning to the term Icecapades, but fortunately for my humans there is an Urgent Care center close by.

I am afraid that I will have to leave it there for this week—I apologize for the short post but I spent a good chunk of the afternoon in Central Park trying to take advantage of the dwindling snow and engaging in some serious and much needed regriming.

Until next time,

Wimsey, the gift that keeps on giving

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #341

Entry #341
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,

Wimsey, Everyone’s Valentine (some humans excepted)