Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #370

Entry # 370
February 14, 2015

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey. wishing you a Happy Valentine’s and President's Day from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where the cold weather has done nothing to  slow the ardor of the City’s Hound-loving public. I have been out and about  this week much to the consternation of my (well-bundled up) human Maria and her (Michelin Man look alike) friend Elizabeth.  I too am suitably caparisoned in my Chilly Dog winter coat which garners many compliments among the canine fashion cognoscenti here in one of the world’s great style capitals. 
My humans would love to pair the coat with a pair of salt-resistant booties but this is just too much look in my view.  There is also the small detail that no one is getting anywhere near me with booties, fashionable or not. The current paw-protecting regimen involves sneaking up on me when I am lying down and rubbing this waxy stuff onto my pads whilst trying to distract me with a belly rub or turkey.  Success, as usual, depends on how much I want the goods on offer.

Sadly owing to the fact that my mouth is healed from recent surgery, the coat and the Heinous Gentle Leader are back in play. However, my humans have decided that since I like the soft Merrick canned food so much (and now the Weruva samples that the nice lady in the pet shop provided) I will be getting some canned food mixed in with the boring kibble.  This is a welcome development and was almost worth having  the surgery for.

Now as many of you know, I am a finicky eater and like my food custom-prepared to my exacting specifications. This also applies to the canned food where any large chunks of meat must be broken up into more Wimsey-pleasing pieces. So Elizabeth did this for me the other day but was seriously negligent in the matter of the carrots. She was watching me eat my carefully curated lunch (kibble, fresh boiled chicken breast, Merrick beef stew, roasted fresh yam and some canned pumpkin) when I removed an offensively long baby carrot from the mix and spat in on the floor.  Now in my defense I did try to be cooperative and eat the thing. I picked it up and rolled it around in my mouth several times  before concluding that its dimensions were seriously displeasing.  The mouth feel was all wrong. The advantage of demanding that one of your humans watch you eat is that they are available to assist you in these types of culinary crises.  Elizabeth finally realized that some major intervention was called for and broke the carrot in two and hand fed it to me. Once properly sized, the carrot was easily consumed and I was able to resume my gustatory activities. I don’t know how I am expected to eat carrots of the wrong shape.  When Maria heard about this, she properly admonished Elizabeth about the importance of not neglecting the carrots when sizing my meal.  I am hopeful that this  experience will not be repeated.  I sympathize with the nut-rage lady—I too am passionate about good service. Other people’s.

In other news, Elizabeth was at a conference on Monday and Tuesday and Maria had to come home from work to walk me midday. I hate this. Generally I feel that if I park myself on the couch and refuse to move Elizabeth will appear as usual.
And to add insult to injury Maria tried to apply my new ear ointment. As if. Fortunately this meant that Elizabeth had to come over in the evenings to attend to my various body parts and take me for a long “make-up” walk. I am not a Hound whose wants are to be trifled with as anyone who is on the receiving end of my “wrong human, go away” glare can attest.

After this, things  fortunately went back to normal, which is to say that Elizabeth picked me up the in afternoon and took me to her place where I draped myself on the legs of her office chair so she couldn’t move. I also like to wait until she is deeply involved in her work to decide that I am now ready for my early evening walk.  I then chivvy her to get ready, which fearing an eliminatory emergency, she does with alacrity.
When she gets to the point that she puts on her ski pants over her long johns (did I mention that my humans don’t get a lot of dates?) I high tail it to the futon, ascend, and engage in The Wimsey Mattress Meld.  I require extensive bribing to come down and allow the putting on of my walking equipment. Maria meanwhile is racing home from work to join us when the irate text messages begin flooding her inbox. I don’t know why Elizabeth complains—I do this to her most every day but she always seems surprised at my perfidy. I guess she’s a slow learner.

But fortunately the people who admire me on the street know nothing about  any of this and continue to praise my apparent loving and genial disposition.  I am a classic case of the iron fist inside the velvet glove. Or velvet wrinkles.  And as usual this week my vocal skills have also been much admired-- although a lady asked if I had a sore throat.  She thought that I was trying to bark and a throat ailment caused a bay, which amused my humans. I was offended at the notion that my beautiful voice could be thought to be a side effect of illness.  My baying, as you might imagine, causes quite a stir and the reactions to it vary dramatically.  There are the people who run. There are the people who smile.  And there are the people who come to tell my humans that they hear me all the time and wondered what was making that noise.  People usually want to know why I am baying—probably for reassurance that I am not about to do something violent.  Everybody loves to hear me bay. Especially me. Then there is the doorman on West End Avenue who himself bays whenever he sees me and the superintendent of the building across the street who always asks Elizabeth if she can get me to bay for him.  Really, if my humans could “get me to do something” I guarantee it wouldn’t involve baying.

Sadly my schedule is about to be disrupted again because Monday and Tuesday is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. My humans are excited to be in attendance and we are all excited that I am not.  Those of you who read this blog regularly have heard tell of my in-ring show dog antics—everything from refusing to trot, gaiting with my nose on the ground, refusing to stack, baying and of course persistently trying to socialize with the lady Hounds. But I have devoted less attention to the out of ring experience. Westminster is a benched show which means that dogs are obligated to stay on their benches all day which meant that my humans were obligated to try to keep me entertained all day.  Not a simple task for an easily bored Hound such as myself who is eager to be off following scent. 

So I would stand around in front of my crate, meeting and greeting (sliming and baying) in between walks to the indoor potty area where I was infamous for poking people in the tush (it’s tough to control a 130 pound Hound  amidst an abundance of highly accessible tushes) and then sniffing the pen instead of eliminating in it.  And since there was much that I wanted to do that I was prevented from doing this necessitated an extensive amount of protest baying which necessitates an extensive amount of in-between-bay head shakes which necessitated an extensive amount of flying spit which necessitated an extensive amount of apologizing on the part of my humans (or running).
 I mean seriously, why was I there if not to gratify the needs of my nose?  The only positive thing was the scorn and humiliation heaped upon my humans by the people showing normal dogs (i.e. not bloodhounds and not me)—it was all “Control your dog!”  And many years later my humans are still trying to do just that.  Equally unsuccessfully of course, but not for want of trying. This was all especially humiliating for Elizabeth who specializes in working with dominant breed shelter dogs.  But the thing is, those dogs care, I don’t.  Those of you who have Hounds know what I am talking about—we are just not hierarchical canines. It makes no difference to me whether you are an alpha or an omega, I am just going to do what I want to do regardless.

One of my favorite stories involves the time I disrupted an entire photo shoot and a dominance-oriented guy who trained military dogs stepped in to wrangle me.  He clearly thought the issue was Elizabeth’s incompetence.  My motto, “Wrangle not lest ye be wrangled” was much in evidence and at the end of it we had one sweaty   dominance trainer and one Hound who was still doing just as he pleased.  The guy handed Elizabeth my leash and shook his head and said, “I just don’t understand.  He doesn’t respond to intimidation or force and he doesn’t work for food. How do you get him to do what you want?” The answer is that you don’t.  In my experience, things go a lot more smoothly if you let me have my way. NB: I had a very short career as a canine model.

Well good luck to everyone at Westminster—better you than me. My humans will be ringside cheering on the Hounds and admiring the deportment of the regular dogs.  

 In honor of its being Valentine’s Day, another excerpt from The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art.  The gorgeous lady Hound in question is Phoebe who co-owns breeder, owner handler Karen Dewey with Garth who will be at Westminster.
 Also this week, more picture from my archive—although a few new ones too—owing to my humans’ laziness.

The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of painters who admired the simplicity of the art of the early 15th century that existed before the era of the Renaissance painter Raphael, whom they considered elaborate and theatrical. Romeo and Juliet (Ford Madox Brown, 1870, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington). Well, I mean Romeo and Juliet are so old hat and their romance didn’t turn out very well, so I think we can substantially enhance the appeal of this painting by adding a more robust set of lovers—Hounds being rather unlikely to drink poison or stab themselves with daggers, etc. (permitting our humans a small spot on the couch is about as self-sacrificing as we get). See how the beautiful lady Hound (her name is Phoebe, by the way) gazes out at us with such Houndly sagacity as the ardent Wimsey intently drinks in every expression in her magnificent, droopy eyes. We can see that at any moment he will caress her ponderous flew with his lengthy, moist tongue. Was there ever such devotion! (“Romeo and Juliet and Wimsey and Phoebe”).

 Until next time,

Wimsey, Everyone’s Valentine

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #369

Entry #369
January 31, 2015

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey, once again coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where apparently The Super Bowl is considered a national holiday.  My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are complaining that Fairway is looking a lot like Thanksgiving, with lines out the door.  This is especially annoying to them because it is the second time this week that they have been trapped in supermarket hell (if Dante had only known about Fairway…) because we had a faux blizzard to prepare for.  Although the first (and I would argue, the only) priority in blizzard preparations is making sure that I would have enough food, both of them ended up wasting inordinate amounts of time preparing for a few inches of delightful powder.  Never underestimate the power of The Weather Channel to create a media frenzy---even the folks at CNN are taking lessons.  And yes, we know that it is far better to be overprepared than underprepared (at least that is what my humans tell themselves after each climatorial wreaking of non-havoc makes them feel silly) but coping with the disruption that I bring to their lives is disruption enough.

And speaking of disruption, January has been nothing but, hence my prolonged absence. First, of course, Elizabeth deserted me for a conference in San Francisco where she got to swan around in clothes that did not have my drool on them and did not smell like me and pretend that she always looks like this. This meant that Maria had to come home from work in the middle of the day to walk me since I usually spend the day over at Elizabeth’s preventing her from working at her computer.  This in turn meant that it was my job to try to go to “Elizabeth’s” apartment  (really it’s mine based on the sheer volume of my stuff with which it is filled) on every walk to check and see if she was there.  And it was Maria’s job to prevent this and to try to make me empty my bladder and bowels instead.  The week did not go well. And because I am a very astute Hound I know that if I want to annoy Maria, I ignore her. Just like I know that if I want to annoy Elizabeth I don’t ignore her. Well both my indoor and outdoor behavior were the subject of furious texts and emails flying between New York and San Francisco and everyone wanted Elizabeth home except Elizabeth. She was apparently enjoying the clothing thing.

Well Elizabeth no sooner got home than I presented my humans with another of my medical emergencies—this time a growth inside my mouth that had to be surgically excised. So off we all trundled to see my long-suffering surgeon at Blue Pearl who was commended by Elizabeth for not killing me with anesthesia the last time and was encouraged to do likewise again.  Of course all the while this was going on the papers were multiplying my humans’ work desks like rabbits, but nothing could be done since I always takes priority.

It was pretty exciting to have surgery on a new body part and oral surgery entails some significant benefits.  First and foremost, the Heinous Gentle Leader was banished. My winter coat likewise could not be used since getting it on and off might disrupt the healing. Baths have been banned. And perhaps best of all, I was not permitted to eat hard kibble. The ladies tried soaking the kibble in homemade chicken broth from my boiled chicken breast, but I found its texture displeasing so Maria high tailed it off to a pet shop and bought me every flavor of Merrick canned dog food available. Apparently my majestic proportions require the delivery of 7 cans of the stuff into the Wimsey gullet, a process that I am enjoying very much.  My humans not so much as there has been a marked decrease in their indoor air quality and an increase in the poop bags.

Nevertheless, I am planning a huge hunger strike should I ever be returned to naked kibble. And I nearly omitted to mention that since I can’t have crunchy cookies on my walks either I have to be fed turkey at regular intervals instead.

Also, because I was not permitted to scratch my face, I had to be delivered to Elizabeth’s first thing in the morning so I could be observed at all times. I like being observed. I like it when my humans watch me sleep. I like it when they watch me eat. I like it when they watch me chew my bully sticks (of which I have been cruelly deprived during my convalescence—even my beloved nubs have been banished!).  I pretty much took over January.  Even more than I usually do which, even for me, was an accomplishment. And sensing that my regular vet might feel neglected, yesterday I started carrying on about my right ear to such an extent that we all had to spend Friday evening getting my ears flushed out and cultured. Again. A new supply of Positex has been laid in and my humans are under the sad illusion (again) that they will be able to get the stuff into my ear twice a day.

I should also mention that my activities have proven a major boon to the local liquor store---Elizabeth in particular is on the verge of a breakdown over the piled up work (clients being notoriously unsympathetic on the subject of days spent observing the dog instead of working on their projects). But it is a fitting punishment for her leaving, especially for a conference that has nothing to do with me.  I think this should be remedied:

Featured Talks at Wimsey’s Bloodhound Conference

Plenary Session: The Bloodhound. Why?

Why Can’t I Train My Bloodhound But He Can Train Me?

Cutting a Bloodhound’s Nails: An Owner’s Guide to Tranquilizer Darts and Other Anesthetics

Rock Gardens, Cacti and Sand: Solutions to the Landscaping Bloodhound

My Bloodhound Thinks I’m an Idiot. Is He Right?

Life Lessons Learned From My Bloodhound: How To Get Your Way All the Time Without Anyone Noticing

The Best Food for a Bloodhound: Yours

Ten Tenths of the Law: The Thieving Bloodhound-- Criminal Genius or Misunderstood Miscreant?

The Quiet, Well-Behaved Bloodhound and Other Canine Myths That Make Us Feel Inadequate

Fashion Workshop: Plastic, Latex and Vinyl Are The New Black

Marrying the Vet: A Complete, Cost Effective Strategy for Bloodhound Health

Bloodhound Facial Wrinkles: An Evolutionary Adaptation for Gathering Scent or for Getting Off Scot Free

Stubborn, Entitled and Obnoxious or Effective, Self-Actualizing and Goal Oriented?

Round Table Discussion: Is it Possible to Have a Bloodhound and Have A Life?

Cocktail Reception to follow hosted by Tanqueray.

Well you get the idea.  Anyway, I apologize for having to use photos from my copious archive—apparently my humans can’t be bothered to take their hands out of their gloves when the temperature falls below 35. Wimps!

But there is this picture from a few weeks ago when the Metropolitan Museum of Art was having an expo on Madame Cezanne. In honor of that, here is my Madame Cezanne entry from The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art (available on Amazon!

Both Picasso and Matisse described Cezanne as “the father of us all” for creating the foundation of modern art. However in this early painting, Madame Cezanne in a Red Chair, (Paul Cezanne 1877, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Boston) there is just the hint of Cezanne’s future preoccupation with viewing the world through different planes. But we can see here the remarkable juxtaposition of patterns that must have delighted Matisse (whose specialty patterns were), as well as wonderful, small brush strokes that build to a geometrical whole. We can sense the solidity and almost monumental quality of Madame Cezanne which is enhanced by her off center positioning in the chair; and we can almost feel her weight as she leans on its arm. Cezanne painted more than thirty pictures of her and she was required to sit immobile for hours. We think that this must have been extremely boring for her, not to mention that in this painting her broad, empty lap and the large arm chair just beg to be filled with something both beautiful and entertaining. But what could that be? Yes! A Magnificent Hound, draped comfortably and diminutively in her lap so as not to overpower her fine figure! I am sure her face looks much happier now. And the Hound has lifted his head in an interrogative way as if to express Madame Cezanne’s sentiments of “aren’t you done yet?” (“Madame Cezanne and Wimsey in a Red Armchair”).

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

Until next time,

Wimsey, The Hound that Ate January

Friday, January 2, 2015

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #368

Entry # 368
January 2, 2015

Hello and Happy New Year Everyone! It’s me Wimsey, finally having a few minutes to post about all my doings here on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where the holidays have disrupted my schedule to an amazing degree. Where to begin? 

There are so many ways that I have been inconvenienced and so little time to enumerate them all. First, owing to the fact that the holidays fell on a Thursday, my human Maria’s employer decided to bow to the inevitable and close the office both Fridays (I guess he realized it would be tough to supervise from St. Barth’s). The 4-day weekends, plus some vacation days added up to a 12-day stretch where Maria was around to take care of me full time. Now some of you might think that this would please me. It did not.  Her selfish, extended holiday meant that there was no need for her friend Elizabeth to pick me up for our endless afternoons spent walking around so I can visit pet shops, food trucks and the park benches where people try to eat (all while I take care of minimal amounts of business). And what’s worse, it meant that I haven’t been hanging out with Elizabeth in my secondary apartment getting fed fancy lunches and bothering her when she tries to work.  And I am sure alien dogs have been savaging my toy pile while I have been gone. I will be taking an extensive sniffventory when I am finally able to return.

I have become a one human Hound. I know you all feel my pain, but it gets worse. Elizabeth’s monster project is just going to go on and on and even when I am around she spends her days staring at her computer instead of scratching me. And my joy at the fact that she is not going to leave me to travel on her birthday the third week in January this year was overshadowed by the fact that she leaves a week from Sunday for a week’s conference in San Francisco and apparently this conference is not about me.  Maria is going to have to rush home from work that week to give me a measly hour walk in the afternoons. But I had my revenge. Right after Elizabeth booked her ticket she had a dream that I was sitting in the seat next to her eating a tray of airline food.  I will not allow her to escape me, even when she sleeps.

But this talk of “monster” projects put me in mind of something that happened before Christmas. Maria had come over to Elizabeth’s after work so we could all go out for my early evening walk but Elizabeth was still sitting at her computer working.

Maria: Wimsey’s picked up a toy from his toy pile.
Elizabeth: Which one?
Maria: Monster (yes, I have a toy called “Monster.” He’s named after me)
Elizabeth: Uh oh. That’s bad.
Maria: Why?
Elizabeth: You’ll see. Or rather you’ll hear.
Maria: (a few minutes later) Oh.

I take Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to heart--I walk softly and carry a loud toy.

Monster is my loudest toy and when I am really cheesed off I take him up on the futon and squeak him (although “squeak” doesn’t adequately describe the noise he makes) until a human does or gives me whatever it was that prompted me to consort with Monster in the first place.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year’s. Maria cooked me a special Christmas Eve lunch of sausage, egg and cheese which I was too busy napping to eat until Elizabeth came over to join us for a walk which meant that she had to sit around and scratch me for an hour whilst I digested.  This caused me to get some dirty looks from my humans who are convinced that I did it on purpose because I know that I can’t be walked after eating because it can cause bloat.

So then I got up on the couch between them because nothing facilitates social conversation so much as looking at a giant, Hound body instead of the person with whom you are speaking. This led Maria to slightly adjust her position so she could see Elizabeth, which caused me to slightly adjust my position so she could not see Elizabeth.  Which led her to adjust her position which led me to adjust my position, etc. which led Elizabeth to conclude that maybe I am not as dumb as she thinks I am.  It was kind of the couch variant of me staring into the rear view mirror during our road trips so the only thing Elizabeth could see behind her was Hound head.

But I am really quite a clever Hound, even if it is only me who thinks so. Over the past few weeks I managed to teach Elizabeth a new trick. When she tries to lure me off the furniture with turkey in order to leash me up I insist on having a piece of turkey before I even contemplate getting off the furniture (to eat another piece of turkey) while she puts on my stuff. We behaviorists call this a sampling reinforcer and before you could say “gobble, gobble gobble”, I had trained her to thus double my turkey quotient.

I’ve always been a gifted trainer of humans—it’s why I am so popular with them and why texts and emails with HBO words fly between Maria and Elizabeth when I am around.  It also leads to Elizabeth turning herself into something of a human webcam. She sends Maria a continuous stream of exciting news such as “Sir is snoring on the futon,” and “Sir is snoring by the closets” and “Sir just had water and smeared his snout on my pants,” and “I can’t breathe! —I must have put too much butter on his yams again” No wonder she never gets any work done. Of course there was that day that we had a bad nor’easter with pouring rain and I decided that I wished to take a nice, long walk and came in after only an hour, not because we looked like we had been taking a shower, but because when we turned north the wind was blowing too much rain into my face. Then there are other days, principally when my humans actually want me to walk and to take care of business, that I decide that I might melt in a passing shower, and decline to move. Hence it is very little wonder that I have a namesake called Monster (and like me he is loud, smelly, trips people and is vastly inconvenient).

I can generally tell how annoying I’ve been by how much alcohol gets consumed and how many sweaters Elizabeth buys (some people have sex, drugs and rock n’ roll and she has When I’ve been  “difficult “I find her studying the Woolovers catalog and pretending that I am not there. But she has now turned her attention to winter hats—a box of these things is now on its way from Turtle Fur and we are all going to try them on and select the ones we like (like any addict, Elizabeth is always trying to get others hooked—she’s constantly encouraging Maria to buy sweaters). Who knew I was a Gateway Hound?

But speaking of alcohol (and no, Maria’s Mother, your daughter does not drink to excess---the four times a day she’s attached to me by a leash tends to put a damper on the overconsumption of adult beverages)-- although Elizabeth had to work most days, she came over for holiday drinks. This is an activity that pleases me very much. It consists of:

2 humans
2 large Aperol Spritzes (aperol, prosecco and a splash of club soda)
1 large canister of mixed nuts
1 I large nut-loving Hound
1 large bath towel.

As you might imagine, cocktails with the ladies is a very elegant affair. It requires that Elizabeth shroud herself in a bath towel because no matter where she positions the canister of nuts I position my snout to rain drool upon her (she being the Wimsey Nut-Feeder-in-Chief).  Those of you who think that she is being fastidious, think again. Both my humans are constantly covered in my drool-- flung at them, smeared on them and dripped on them—but the Nut Drool is special. It is constant and it is copious. It cannot be evaded, avoided or stopped. It raineth down like manna from heaven (or Hound, which I like to think is pretty much the same thing, although I am sure that my humans have another destination in mind).  And we have such a lovely time, although Elizabeth gets scolded for picking out all the almonds to feed to me,

Anyway, there is a vicious rumor going around that we all might congregate at Elizabeth’s on Sunday and that a bath might be involved.  Also cocktails (a mandatory part of recovering from bathing me), a pot of chicken (for me), nuts (for me) a new stuffed toy (for me) and a box of Turtle Fur hats (not supposed to be for me but I will do my best. Have you ever noticed how much woolen winter hats resemble dog toys?)

Well, I think I will leave it there for now. I have to think about what I want from San Francisco. An earthquake??? Might be a tough one. Next week I will be back with Elizabeth—I know how much she misses me by the ridiculous number of times she texts Maria to find out what I am doing.  Maria has threatened to bring me over. Of course this afternoon, Maria texted Elizabeth “Wimsey’s being a jerk” which pretty much means “ Wimsey’s here.” It makes me proud to be a Hound.

Until next time,

Wimsey, absence makes the heart grow fonder—it’s my presence that's the problem