Friday, December 28, 2007

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 47
December 28, 2007

Hello everyone, Wimsey here. Hope you all had a good Christmas—I myself got a bath and an assortment of toys, including the first of two giant (read: Wimsey sized) rawhide bones. My human Maria’s friend Elizabeth got an apartment full of wet dog hair and a couch full of drool. We Hounds can be so generous.

Can you believe that this is the last post of 2007! And naturally with the end of the year my New Year’s Resolution is to be a better Hound. This of course means more drool, more loud singing and much more towing. (Elizabeth, by the way, is fast becoming the Imelda Marcos of outdoor footwear-- she has been accumulating an alarming array of shoes and boots all guaranteed to defeat The Wimsey in snowy conditions. I wish her a lot of luck with that one, especially as we are having a very mild winter so far. I think all the things she bought would make much better chew toys and I have definitely resolved to raid her shoe closet at the earliest opportunity--no one can tell me that those big fuzzy Ugg boots were not designed for houndly chewing pleasure). Anyway, all this emphasis on Hound control puts me in mind to design a new video game:

Xtreme Hounding v.1.1 (Wimsey: A Lethal Weapon On the Move)

New in 2008! The gaming sensation guaranteed to waste the maximum number of hours per day—why you won’t even notice that the day has passed! Forget those pesky jobs, chores, and errands. Enter the world of Xtreme Hounding and you will never want to actually move again!

Hook yourself up to the strongest, most willful, most power-hungry Hound yet and attempt to successfully navigate a circuit around New York’s scenic (yet deceptively dangerous) Central Park.

Beware of high velocity turns and unpredictable obstacles (especially when the Hound searches for a place to poop) as your Hound charges, lunges and bays his way through New York City’s most treacherous terrain--taking you with him!

Battle the random appearances of fellow canines—the friendly off-leash ones who will tempt your leashed Hound into an arm dislocating game of chase (you must complete the circuit with two functioning arms in order to move to Level Two) and the Foes (some of whom craftily appear friendly) who want to rip your Hound (and failing that, you) apart. Both you and your Hound must remain unblemished to earn maximum tier points and advance.

Navigate the obstacle course of dog walkers—some with dog packs, some with coffee, some with flexis, some talking on their cell phones and some who have it all!

Master geometry whilst increasing your agility as you scoop poop from the impossible places your wily Hound has deposited it for you.

Keep your Hound from knocking down undersized, curious children, chasing screaming running ones and totaling the elderly population (some with walkers!), all of whom want to pat your Hound on the head.

Resist as your Hound tries to wrap you around trees, drown you in the Park’s many lakes and fountains and filch personal property from stray tourists.

Avoid fist flights with malevolent strangers whose designer togs have been slimed and whose toned derrieres have been goosed. You must remain cool in the face of belligerent pop ups who hurl abuse at you because your Hound has testicles or because he lives in New York (and not in “the country” far away from them).

And of course when your Hound embarks upon a scent trail, you must keep up, no matter what the terrain or looming obstacles!

Note: choose your equipment and apparel wisely—rainstorms, mud holes, slick grass and loose footing abound.

Succeed in Your Mission and move on to the next level where you will have to cope with heavier and more numerous Hounds as you try additionally to defeat city streets, pet shop visits, the show ring and meals at sidewalk cafes!

Well anyway, even without my new video game, the coming year is going to start off with a bang here at Hound Headquarters. My human received the news this week that I will once again be allowed into the hallowed precincts of The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (will they never learn: 12 hours of benching =12 hours of Wimsey singing) to display my houndly charms. And guess what—I know you will all be as amused as I was—I will be handled by Elizabeth!

Maria gave Elizabeth the entry acceptance in her Christmas present. Talk about a lump of coal! The fact is that I am the Master of the Unstack and the Grandmaster of The Pace. All of which means I decline to leave my feet where they have been so carefully placed and I don’t trot, I pace (an ugly but thoroughly enjoyable gait wherein I use both legs on the same side of my body—makes me look like FrankenDog and very few Hounds have mastered it to my extent). Then of course, there is the “trop” my signature gait, in which you can’t actually tell whether I am trotting or pacing!

Anyway, Elizabeth is once again digging out those annoying trotting poles that I thought I had seen the last of (did you know that you can actually gallop through these) and we are to have trotting and stacking practice in the evenings. And once again my humans will be trying to come up with some innovative ways to get me to stand and to trot (poles, clickers, liver, squeals of delight at my performance, cries of “Trot Wimsey Trot”) and once again I will do just what I please. Aren’t intelligent people supposed to learn from their mistakes? The show is February 11th and 12th and I will be providing more details as they become available. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is off to Bloomingdales on a frantic hunt for festive clothing that will flatter my color and shape (Saleswoman: “Madam are you looking for clothes for an apple or a pear shape?” Elizabeth: “Really more of a tube sock with four legs, actually.”) After those ugly green show pants this summer, I can hardly wait.

Anyway, this is a short holiday post because I have lots of work to do on my giant rawhide and I need to save my strength for tonight’s pacing practice (I also need to save my strength for the extensive amount of baying that I do throughout the practice because I know that Elizabeth has a pocketful of turkey and I want it; she thinks she uses the turkey to reward my trotting, but I know it is really to reward my baying).

But before I pace off, I do want to pay our weekly visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. This week we are looking at a famous painting of rural life:
The Gleaners (Jean-Francois Millet, 1857, Musee d’Orsay). Millet was one of the most renowned painters of the Barbizon School—named for a village near the Forest of Fontainebleau in France. These painters were interested in painting nature in a more realistic style than had previously been done. Nevertheless, Millet’s painting shocked the art critics when it was exhibited. The monumental and dignified appearance of the peasants was apparently unheard of and the act of gleaning or picking up what was left after the harvest smacked of socialism. Well, the terms “monumental” and “dignified” define The Hound, and we hounds are all about taking stuff from the rich (as well as from everyone else too). But see how more dramatic the painting is with the insertion of a monumental and dignified Hound, helpfully defending the rights of the gleaners whilst engaging in a little gleaning himself. Who would dare interfere with them when they are in the presence of such a handsome and imposing animal? (I myself do quite a bit of gleaning—I glean dirty socks from the laundry bin and chunks of food from the dining room table). The Gleaning Hound

Well time to give Wolf Blitzer another interview on the state of my tush, which seems to be slowly improving. Probably they would be happier with a more dramatic headline such as “Wimsey’s Tush-- Inflamed!”

Happy New Year,

Wimsey, The Xtreme Showdog

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 46
December 21, 2007

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey, coming to you from the Houndalicious city of New York—I love this city so much I think I should be its next mayor. Who else waters its parks, smears its people in drool and is a major tourist attraction all at the same time? Under my administration, off-leash people would be confined to dog parks and Hounds would roam free. I am sure this would reduce the crime rate (except perhaps for rawhides). Maybe I would even relax a few current legal restrictions and allow humans to experience firsthand the joys of pooping in plein air.

Anyway, I am busy racking up the points here, big time! For those of you who joined me last week, I talked about how I pulled my human Maria’s hamstring (impressively whilst still wearing the detested Halti) and have been exiled to life with her friend Elizabeth. Now this week I significantly enhanced my point total by breaking Elizabeth’s futon—or rather the wooden frame that holds the futon-- I so love to go flying on and off of it! Now this is a very useful futon -- its location makes it an ideal springboard for one of the many chase games I initiate with my humans (usually when they are in a hurry to put my walking equipment on). But alas I sprung once too many and thus broke the thing mightily. Now although the breaking of furniture doesn’t earn as many points as the breaking of actual bones (or the fantasy jackpot of sending one of my humans to the emergency room-- which is still not outside the realm of possibility as I noticed some promising ice in the park this morning)--I still think it deserves a pretty good score because it was maximally inconvenient. Elizabeth had to devote a good chunk of the day to procuring a replacement article, hopefully of sturdier design. (Maybe she should contact Ian Schrager and get one of those ridiculously giant pieces of furniture with which he likes to spruce up his hotels; if he ever decides to get out of the hotel business, he has a great future as a designer of giant hound furniture).

But apart from my furniture busting activities, the big news is that having infected anal glands is turning out to be a pretty good gig. I am now on two types of antibiotics which necessitates the use of four pieces of rolled up sliced turkey to get the pills down me plus a cooked meal to make sure the medication is absorbed properly. In addition, now when I am massively flatulent, no one points a disparaging finger and says “Stinky Wimsey. That’s disgusting. Go away.” Now it’s all, “Poor Wimsey, his tummy is bothering him from his medicine. Here, let me rub your belly.” Also Elizabeth prepares these really relaxing warm compresses for my nether regions. Surely getting humans to rub your tummy whilst applying soothing compresses to one’s backside, although not as spectacular as an actual injury or anything, should also be point worthy? Then of course there are the hushed and reverent consultations as to the state of my anus as Elizabeth issues hourly bulletins to the absent Maria. Any day I expect to see a headline in the New York Post: “Wimsey’s Anus: Still Sore but on the Mend, Say Confidential Sources Close To the Great Hound” or better yet:

CNN Breaking News: The War Within: Bacteria Invade Wimsey’s Anal Glands

Anderson Cooper: Good evening. I am Anderson Cooper and in tonight’s 360 we delve deeply into a story that has mesmerized America for the past ten days: Wimsey, New York City’s foremost bloodhound, is apparently being treated for infected anal gland abscesses. As a New Yorker myself I can personally attest to the consternation this has caused in the Big Apple. Joining me will be Wolf Blitzer for the latest news, Judy Woodruff on the political implications, Christiane Amanpour for international reaction and Dr. Sanjay Gupta to help us understand the medical aspects of the problem. This is the biggest story since our special report on Britney Spears shaving her head and it begins right now. Who says we are not a real news organization anymore! Wolf, what do you know?

Wolf Blizter: This is Wolf Blitzer reporting live from the upper west side of Manhattan—a city gripped in the throes of shock and reeling in horror at the closing of some of the area’s best known Chinese restaurants.

Anderson Cooper: Wolf! Let me interrupt. We are doing the Wimsey anal gland story.

Wolf: Sorry Anderson. It’s been a busy day here in the Situation Room hunting the top breaking stories. Let me start again: This is Wolf Blitzer reporting live from the upper west side of Manhattan—a city gripped in the throes of shock and reeling in horror at the recent illness striking one of its most beloved canines. CNN has just learned that Wimsey’s anal glands are infected, apparently by three organisms, frighteningly one of which is resistant to Clavamox.

Anderson: Do we think this is germ warfare Wolf? Is there a country we should think about invading?

Christiane Amanpour: Let me take that Wolf. At this time the White House has issued a statement assuring Americans that if a country is responsible for this or might be responsible for this or could be responsible for this, quote: “all appropriate military measures will be taken.” Also, Wolf, the Iranian government has just issued a blanket statement denying any involvement—they claim they are too busy building a nuclear weapon to be involved in germ warfare.

Anderson: That’s very reassuring Christiane. But you can understand that here in New York conspiracy theories abound. Judy, how do you think these announcements will affect the political campaign?

Judy Woodruff:
Well Anderson, according to our sources, all the major candidates of both parties are currently conducting polls on the subject; they say they will decide on a response after they see the numbers. Although we do hear the Giuliani campaign is exploring the possibility that the infection could have been transmitted by a ferret. As you know when he was Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani’s great success was spearheading the crusade against pet ferrets. It’s an issue he is deeply committed to and he would like to bring the issue forward to create national attention. But for now Anderson all candidates have issued statements expressing their deep personal and heartfelt sadness at the state of Wimsey’s anal glands and their hope that the support and good wishes of all Americans will be extended to Wimsey at this difficult time. They feel his pain Anderson and so do we.

Anderson: Thank you Judy. Very touching. There is nothing like a crisis to bring the American people together. I am sure it’s why everyone hates us so much. Now to help us understand the medical issues involved, we turn to CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. What’s the latest Sanjay?

Sanjay Gupta: Thanks Anderson. Well, as you know I am actually a neurosurgeon and while this usually doesn’t stop me from being an authority on every other specialty, I must admit I find myself a little out my depth here-- humans don’t actually have anal glands.

Anderson: Does this mean you won’t be gowning up and assisting in a spectacular and life saving surgery Sanjay?

Sanjay: Not this time Anderson. It’s the wrong end.

Anderson: Too bad, Sanjay. I know your fans will be disappointed. What else have you got?

Sanjay: Well Anderson, Wimsey’s physician declined to be interviewed—he claims he and his staff were too busy subduing a renegade Chihuahua. It sounded pretty serious, so I have asked Dr. Julie Horton, Medical Director of New York Veterinary Hospital to help shed light on the problem. Although not his physician, Dr. Horton claims to have actually met Wimsey. Isn’t that right Dr. Horton?

Julie Horton: That’s correct, Sanjay. He sat on me and tried to drink my caipirnha last Thanksgiving, so I can personally assure America that Wimsey is a robust animal with a will of iron—if anyone can defeat an anal gland infection, my money would be on him.

Sanjay: So what do you think of the treatment so far?

Julie: Well, it’s early days yet, but I understand that Wimsey is receiving round the clock nursing care and has just been prescribed a powerful new quinolone antibiotic—that’s like the drug Cipro for those of you who don’t enjoy curling up at night with a Merck manual like Dr. Gupta—so I remain hopeful.

Sanjay: And if the antibiotics don’t work, what’s next?

Julie: Well, that would be unfortunate Sanjay. Wimsey would then have to be sedated and have his glands flushed out.

Sanjay: Would there be gowns and masks involved?

Julie: Probably not, Sanjay, but the nursing would be arduous—multiple compresses and I am very much afraid that Wimsey would be forced to wear an e-collar.

Sanjay: An e-collar?! Surely that is an extreme measure. The psychological and behavioral effects alone could be devastating. We know how he feels about the Halti. And how would he even be able to pass through a doorway unaided? Well I know that all America hopes such a dire outcome can be avoided.

Julie: I think his humans would also echo those hopes.

Anderson: Well this has been another ground breaking edition of 360. If you or someone you know has an anal gland infection, please call the 800 number you see on screen for the latest information on this calamitous condition. Next up, the latest on Jamie Lynn Spear’s shocking pregnancy!

But rest assured, no amount of houndly ailments is going to impede my enjoyment of Christmas. I am anticipating much loot --. this year I am hoping to get a boxed set of Cesar Millan's books, Cesar’s Way and his new book, Be The Pack Leader: I want to shred them. (this guy still hasn’t gotten it: 1) hounds deserve to be the dominant species and 2) humans like it this way or else he wouldn’t have so many people to lecture on being the pack leader). I would also like tickets to a panty raid and a week’s vacation in a Chinese laundry. And of course more of those compresses and belly rubs under the mistletoe.

Well before I toddle off to have my tush attended to, it is time for another visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. (it’s funny how few great masterworks deal with anal glands). But perhaps because of the surreal elements of my recent illness I have decided that we should examine the work of a very famous surrealist: "The Son of Man" (Rene Magritte, 1964, privately owned): Magritte was a Belgian surrealist who, when allegedly asked for a self portrait, painted himself as a businessman in front of the sea with his face obscured by a green apple. The use of the apple combined with the title might suggest that the modern businessman is “everyman” and the apple represents his temptation. Alternatively, Magritte himself said of the painting: Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see, but it is impossible. Humans hide their secrets too well... Well, whatever. Surrealists were notoriously cryptic and some believe that they deliberately create unknowable mysteries to mimic the human condition. But I find this painting distinctly incomplete. No true son of man can be unaccompanied by a Hound and if Magritte thought that humans hide their secrets too well, he never met a Hound. Maria is still looking for her favorite bra. Where is it? I’ll never tell. Son of Hound

I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season. It’s time for me and my anal glands to take a walk and all I can say is: “New York, lock up your Santa Hats (or I will add them to my collection).”

Until next time,

Chief Tush Correspondent, Wimsey


Friday, December 14, 2007

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 45
December 14, 2007

Hello everyone. Wimsey here, reporting from the ice encrusted precincts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Well, this has been quite an exciting week. I managed to inflict a pulled hamstring on my human Maria--- an injury for which I claim extra points since I was wearing my Halti at the time—and so have been temporarily exiled to her friend Elizabeth (although she returns me to my apartment each afternoon in time for my run with my Running Paws runner, Roy --or “Braveheart” as my humans like to think of him). Now for those of you who have read my Diary, you will be aware that Roy leaves my human a polite, post-run note each afternoon, usually concerning my toilet activities. But he occasionally inserts cryptic remarks about my deportment (“Wimsey was very playful today, etc.”), causing my humans’ imagination to run wild. Well this week, Roy, ever the gentleman, and not wanting to cause my ladies any more distress than they already suffer by having to deal with me, posted a blog comment discussing what really happens on our runs. So in the time honored spirit of full disclosure, I have reproduced Roy’s comments below as they are really too good to miss and will give you some idea of how much fun we have together every afternoon:

Notes Roy never left but might have:

"Today Wimsey almost killed me going down the stairs." (This would be a recurring note, actually).

"Today Wimsey decided to poop in/on/through the railing around a tree. I think he was challenging me."

"Wimsey tried to drag me into oncoming traffic today. On purpose?"

"Today Wimsey pooped a poop bigger than my head."

"Wimsey and Luie decided to have a race back home from the park, and we almost killed one old man, two nice ladies taking a walk, a Boston Terrier, and three policmen. ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOURRR LEFT!!!"

"Today I tried to take Wimsey's stick from him and he jumped on me, howling like a demon. I saw my life--and a mouthfull of enormous white teeth--flash before my eyes. Although his bark is bigger than his bite, his bark was so freakin' huge I didn't want to push it."

"Wimsey was in the mood for sprints today: he'd run full speed for fifty feet, then jerk me to a dead stop so he could sniff some pee for five minutes, then bolt off another fifty feet, then jerk to a stop... and so on, all the way through the park."

"I think Wimsey accidentally inhaled a chihuahua."

"Wimsey is the best dog in the world, and while it's true that he's slobbery, bossy, stubborn, and stinky, it's also true that he's handsome, proud, awesome and loads of fun. Nothing beats running full tilt through a gaggle of Japanese tourists behind 120 pounds of jowl-flapping bloodhound."



But however vivid Roy’s descriptive powers are (and I do really appreciate his making note of my pooping prowess—I am quite proud of this—just when you think no more can come out of me, more does (!), causing squeals of delight amongst my raptly attentive audience. (I wonder if this would qualify me for David Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks?)-- he did omit two of the most important Wimsey maneuvers: the “fallover” (not be confused by you behaviorists out there with a stand over, although I like to do that to, but only to people, as I am very polite with other dogs) and the “clean and jerk.” In the fallover I am traveling swiftly (is there any other way for a purposeful Hound such as myself to travel?) directly ahead of my human adhering to a very straight trajectory. Then suddenly and with no warning, I execute a quick 90 degree pivot turn (ostensibly in order to sniff something, but really for the fun of it) placing my large body directly in the path of the oncoming human. This causes them to “fallover” me. (BTW: The fallover is an excellent application of Newton’s first law—“A body when in motion tends to stay in motion except when impeded by a large Hound”).

It’s pretty hilarious I can tell you—they never even see it coming. Now the clean and jerk is an entirely different type of maneuver and requires speed, agility and a finely honed sense of timing. In this, I am once again traveling swiftly forward, although careful not to get too far ahead ( this would ruin the surprise), then I execute a lightening fast 180 degree spin and run swiftly backwards (again, in an apparent effort to sniff something that I had inadvertently passed up), cleanly jerking the human arm in a distinctly non-physiological direction. Such squealing that ensues would put a squeaky toy to shame! Frankly I have always thought that my gifts should be the basis of a new reality show:

“The Amazing Race”: twelve teams of two race their Hounds around Central Park. The teams with the most amount of injuries are eliminated from the Race.

Anyway, as you can imagine Elizabeth has been quite thrilled to have me around this week because I am such an excellent and thoughtful houseguest (although I did catch her reading up on “how to heal a hamstring injury”). I am sure she has noticed a big improvement in her mental health this week since whenever she wants to read those depressing newspapers I sit on her and make her scratch me instead. A much healthier choice, I think (although the word choice might be a misnomer). And speaking of healthy choices, I carefully supervise Elizabeth’s meals when I am in residence, sniffing and inspecting each ingredient that she employs for freshness and wholesomeness. Those ingredients found wanting, I generously consume myself.

Then of course there are all the benefits of the late night fresh air that I cause her to experience in the execution of my bedtime constitutional. These can be extensive as the search for the perfect real estate upon which to poop is not a choice I make lightly or hastily (rather like a buying a co-op here in New York). I take a long term, judicious approach to the process, so we can be out and about for quite some time.

When the bedtime constitutional has at long last been completed it is then time for Elizabeth to get a little extra exercise by competing in one of my favorite events: “Wimsey Bed Wrestling.” I employ the traditional opening gambit—sleeping the wide way across the pillows. By the time the day ends, Elizabeth is more than ready for some (wholly excessive) sleep, so to counteract her somnolent tendencies, I have taken up snoring (for which I appear to have a natural talent—I think it is all my extra folds and wrinkles, which I am told imparts a motorcycle-like tone to my efforts). I have also perfected the art of the deafening 3am drink of water. Who would have thought that a simple bowl of water and a long hound tongue could produce such auditory delights! (the acoustics in Elizabeth’s apartment are excellent) And following this, I find it essential to show off the amount water I can carry on my muzzle by shoving it into Elizabeth’s sleeping face for inspection. This provides excellent nighttime hydration for the skin so I can’t imagine why she is thinking about building a tree house in her apartment. Anyway, come morning, I hydrate her face again and then, just in case she hasn’t notice that I am around, climb into bed with her. And added to the fun, I am taking antibiotics (nothing serious just a pesky anal gland problem), which must be taken with food and since I am a finicky eater this means she has to get up and fix me a cooked breakfast! I love being me.

But anyway, things are quite festive here in New York as Christmas approaches—the decorations for me to play with are up, tourists are everywhere taking pictures of me and humans are shopping for my gifts. I am a very big fan off Christmas-- although my humans might be less so as they have to be vigilant about preventing me from watering the Christmas trees that are being sold on the streets-- Christmas with a New York City Hound does present some unique challenges. And I enjoy hearing the Christmas story told again, although I have always found it to be somewhat incomplete:

Wimsey’s Christmas Story

Hound #1: I smell something.
Hound #2: Me too. It seems to be coming from the direction of that large star over there.
Hound #3: Let’s follow our noses (and that star thing)!

Hound #1: Look over there! There seems to be a lot of activity in that stable.
Hound #2 If anything important is happening we Hounds should be present.
Hound # 3: Let’s pace over.

Hound #1: It’s a beautiful woman and her newborn baby.
Hound #2: He smells heavenly!
Hound #3: Hmm.. I detect many fragrant animals (I love stables). Also there seem to be three richly caparisoned men bestowing gifts.

Hound #1: We too can bestow high value gifts! Here is a rawhide.
Hound #2: And please accept this stuffed squeaky hedgehog.
Hound #3: Here is a Greenie for you.

Shepherd #1: Do you hear what I hear? It is a heavenly sound!
Shepherd #2: Is it a chorus of angels, do you think?
Shepherd # 3: No. I think it is those Hounds.

I make Maria tell me this story every year as I tear open her presents. Anyway all this talk of miraculous creation reminds me that it is once again time for a visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Today we have an iconic piece of American art to discuss:

Arrangement in Gray and Black: The Artist’s Mother (aka: Whistler’s Mother): (James McNeil Whistler, 1871, Musee d’Orsay, Paris). Now this is perhaps one of the most famous and recognizable of all American paintings, although Whistler, who mostly hung out in Paris with his luminary buddies Manet and Degas, painted this while he was in London. Whistler had to add “the Artist’s Mother” bit to his original title because Victorians were outraged at a the concept (however artistically motivated) of reducing one’s mother to an “arrangement.” (modern mothers would of course be happy to be noticed, let alone painted, by their adult offspring in any context, but the Victorians were a sentimental lot). Anyway, Whistler was born in Massachusetts but liked to pretend to be an aristocratic Southern military man (the pre-Google dark ages) on the strength of the fact that he was kicked out of out of West Point for failure to pass chemistry (that should make a lot of folks feel better). Anyway, while Whistler was swanning about Paris reinventing himself, the great Marcel Proust (a Wimsey favorite and role model—see post # 14) was reinventing him too, as the painter Elstir in Remembrance of Things Past. There are two famous stories about this painting: one that Whistler’s mother only posed because a model canceled and two, that she is sitting down because she found standing too difficult. And so even great masterpieces, like great Hounds, are frequently the products of serendipity. But however great the masterpiece, it is still very unclear what Whistler’s mother is looking at (and perhaps listening to) with such intensity. This problem is easily corrected. Arrangement in Gray, Black and Tan: The Artist’s Mother (and musical Hound).

(PS: I though about titling this Wimsey’s Mother, but I fear Maria would be sorely displeased—although I must say, she does wear black quite a bit).

Anyway, until next time,

Wimsey, puller of hamstrings, dislocator of arms and Christmas Animal

Friday, December 7, 2007

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 44
December 7, 2007

Hello Everyone, it’s me Wimsey. Well it’s been rather an up and down week here. As is so often the case in life, things started out really well and then seemed to go downhill from there. The weekend was quite exciting as on Sunday we had the first snowfall of the season. I was pretty pumped I can tell you—there are few things as thrilling to a Hound as snow and this year was especially glorious as the snow fell on the late falling autumn leaves. Snow+leaves=canine ecstasy. The peeing was fantastic.

Anyway, all this was very fortuitous since by Wimsey Fiat Sunday is almost entirely given over to hounding—my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth take me to Central Park for much of the day. Unfortunately since Elizabeth does not actually have a death wish, a decision was made to keep me on my halti. But the good news is that when a large hound wants to frolic in the snow, the halti is no match for his exuberance. So Maria was forced to walk next to my 20 foot leash at all times—ever vigilant as to the need to grab hold when Elizabeth seemed in imminent danger of losing her footing, which if I do modestly say so was fairly frequently. Elizabeth is scheduling a trip to the sporting goods store to yet again search for high traction mountaineering boots. Seeing how this weekend’s score was Wimsey 1 and Halti 0, I am looking forward to pitting my skills against these new boots, assuming that Elizabeth can even find ones with the requisite traction. Maria, however, is a fatalist (a common trait among serial owners of bloodhounds)-- she has long ago resigned herself to periodically hitting the deck—she just hopes for abrasions rather than broken bones. But Elizabeth has an abiding, if foolish, belief in the power of technology to solve life’s problems--even me--so I am looking forward immensely to proving her wrong yet again. After all, technology is no match for the iron will of the Hound and whereas designers of advanced mountaineering boots may have scaled K2 they have never taken me on a winter walk in Central Park. As an undefeated Hound, I therefore embrace the challenge!

Wimsey Match Statistics

Match Winner

Wimsey vs. The Prong Wimsey
Wimsey vs. The No-pull Sensation Harness Wimsey
Wimsey vs. The Choke Chain Wimsey
Wimsey vs. The Gentle Leader Wimsey
Wimsey vs. The Halti Wimsey
Wimsey vs. The Show Collar* Walkover

*I call this piece of equipment “the string”

Anyway I had so much fun in the snow that my muzzle looked like I had a serious cocaine problem (I do, but without the cocaine). I resembled Al Pacino in “Scarface”. And then there were my many forceful and daring impressions of Lipizzaners—I executed multiple and astonishing levades, courbettes, and caprioles—leaping, kicking and prancing much to the delight of passersby (“Look at that big bloodhound pretending to be a Lipizzaner! You see everything in New York!”) and to the frustration of Maria and Elizabeth (“Wimsey stop that—there are no black and tan Lipizzaners”). And I cannot even speak of the joys of etching the snow with vibrant yellow streams nor of kicking snow into Maria’s face each time she bent down to pick up my poop. If it were up to me there would be snow every day—the only downside being the time my humans would have to spend in the emergency room.

Well after that fantastic start to the week, the perfidious Elizabeth snuck off to San Francisco and Boston (I wonder if she is seeing another Hound) and missed all but one of my evening walks! As a Hound of importance I require my full entourage for my evening walk and I was pretty cheesed off, I can tell you. No matter how much time I spent looking at the door or dragging Maria off to the coffee shop where Elizabeth hangs out on Sunday, Elizabeth failed to appear. The one evening when I did see her, I sat upon her and drooled on her and tried to stick my tongue into her mouth—what could possibly be so compelling that she would willingly forgo these pleasures? Personally, I blame Maria. Things that go wrong are generally her fault as a matter of principle. I am pretty sure she is also responsible for the crisis in the Middle East and global warming. Anyway, next weekend I will once again sally forth into the show ring and if my humans expect any cooperation from me, they are sadly mistaken. En route I anticipate increasing my supervisory driving activities that so bedevil Maria—from the giant Hound head in her rear view mirror to my forays onto the front seat. Once at the show I intend to bay, pace, sniff, unstack, gallop and generally make Elizabeth look as foolish as possible (“will the handler of Hound #8 please control her animal”).

The show is to be held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which I think is quite seasonally appropriate (will there be Three Wise Judges, I wonder). Although we have never had an actual Christmas tree (I leave it to your imagination as to why) I always enjoy reading Christmas literature.

Wimsey’s Night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a Hound.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there before the Hound could shred them.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Hounds danced in their heads.
And mamma in her shredded ‘kerchief, and I in my chewed up cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap with the Hound.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what the Hound had gotten into now.
Away to the window I flew—stepping over the Hound-- like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen yellow snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer being chased by a Hound.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick (he had to be to get away from the Hound),
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than Hounds his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Wimsey and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall where the Hound can’t get to us!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As peed on leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew away from the Hound,
With the sleigh full of rawhides, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof and a lot of loud baying.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a Hound.

He was dressed all in fur (The Hound thought he was a stuffed toy), from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot and drool.
A bundle of rawhides he had flung on his back trying to keep it from the Hound,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled as he looked at the Hound! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as yellow as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth to keep the Hound from stealing it,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed at the Hound, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself and the fact that the Hound had stolen his hat!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread (I live with a Hound, what more is there to dread).

He spoke not a word—he was speechless--, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk as the Hound poked him in the tush.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose as the Hound chased him!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, let’s get away from that giant smelly dog
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle after a Hound has sneezed on it.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to the Hound a good-night!"

Personally I have always felt that getting a hold of someone in a Santa suit could be very entertaining. As it happens I have to settle for stealing people’s Santa hats—they are right up there with plastic water bottles on the Wimsey Theftability Index. Last year I paraded all over the Upper West Side with a stolen Santa hat-- amazing the number of people who were convulsed by the sight of a giant Hound firmly in possession of a stolen Santa hat. Humans are so easily amused. And speaking of amusement, it is now time for our weekly visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art.

Once again we return to France for our inspiration, this time to a place famous for fun and frolic, The Moulin Rouge.

At the Moulin Rouge (Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892, Art Institute of Chicago). Now the Moulin Rouge was a cabaret built in 1889 and famous for all kinds of notorious goings on, including professional ladies dancing the can-can, sometimes sans underpants. We know a lot about this place largely because Toulouse-Lautrec produced paintings and illustrations that brought it to such stunning life—so identified was he with this decadent aspect of Parisian life that he was known as the “soul of Monmartre” the district where the cabaret was located. In any case, however accurate a depiction of the club that this painting aspires to, there is one puzzling feature. There is a table with an unmolested water bottle. Now surely the whole scene is much more realistic with the inclusions of a demimondaine Hound about to filch it. Wimsey At the Moulin Rouge.

Well time to go unwrap the Christmas presents Maria thinks I don’t know about. I do so love to shred seasonal paper, ribbons and packaging—it’s the best part of a gift!

Until next time,
Wimsey, Santa’s large stinky helper

PS: Note to New York City: Lock up your Santa hats!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 43
November 30, 2007

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey-- happily disporting myself amidst the autumnal splendors of Manhattans’ Upper West Side. I hope you all have had as much fun viewing my recent autumn pictorials as I have had in creating them. There is nothing quite as invigorating as the fresh scent of moldy, peed upon leaves in the morning. It just takes your breath away and makes you glad to be alive! And last Sunday we had another magnificent autumn day here in Hound Town so my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth stayed out with me (they call it ‘hounding”) all day in Central Park. And then afterwards we helped Elizabeth do some shopping on Broadway so it was quite a busy day all in all and necessitated the subsequent consumption of 7 ½ cups of kibble, some leftover turkey and a long nap.

Although helping Elizabeth shop is always entertaining, why she bothers to do it is something of a mystery. In my last post I discussed the fact that I am not so much of a dog as a lifestyle and the Wimsey Lifestyle involves not only spending large amounts of one’s time in Central Park, but doing so whilst sporting some seriously unflattering, practical clothing courtesy of LL Bean. And of course LL Bean’s customer service is legendary so my humans have had some interesting of conversations with them:

“Excuse me but can you tell me upon which color drool stains show the least?”

“Do you know if this fabric is drool repellent?

“Can you tell me if this fleece hat is susceptible to puncture by hound teeth?”

“Does this fabric retain odors?”

“How much traction will these boots provide if I were to hypothetically be towed rapidly across a bed of wet leaves by a giant charging hound?”

“If I need to take, say a six hour walk in the freezing cold, will this jacket keep me warm?”

“Do you happen to know if the goose down inside the jacket smells like an actual goose?”

Anyway, this season’s LL Bean boxes have been arriving at Elizabeth’s and everyone is so tactful—no one says “that jacket makes you look like a four foot tall four foot wide blueberry” but rather “how comfortable and warm you look!” And FYI, these wardrobe issues are among the many that make my role of wingman so essential to my ladies receiving any male attention at all—the Hound Lifestyle involves many things, but glamorous attire is not one of them.

But I have observed that not telling someone that their new jacket makes them look like the Michelin Man is symptomatic of a chronic human avoidance of the truth. This is in marked contrast to we hounds who are nothing if not honest —can you imagine us saying “how lovely of you to smell my bottom” when what we really mean is “if your cold nose so much as comes within a nanometer of my delicate derriere then there will be hell to pay.” And there is no such thing as an insincere growl and or an immodest triumphant bay-- when I bay in triumph, I am in fact truly triumphant. Human double talk is one of the more puzzling aspects of their species and it seems to be a universal characteristic amongst them. As an example, during the week I am run by a lovely chap named Roy from Running Paws and as part of this excellent service Roy leaves a note for Maria telling her what time I was run and describing my excretory activities and who I was run with, etc. (“great run up the bridle path with Louie ((my Weimaraner running buddy)) # 1 and #2” is a typical note). But other, more cryptic comments do sometimes appear --“Wimsey was very excited today” or “Wimsey really enjoyed himself!” and such. Of course there was the time when a touch of what he really meant crept in: “Wimsey was a fiend today.” But frustratingly the form of this fiendish behavior was completely omitted leaving my humans to use their imaginations (Roy is nothing if not discrete). Now these oblique comments produce a lot of sympathy on the part of my humans because they do actually have an inkling of what Roy might really mean (“Wimsey jumped down all five flights of stairs, bayed incessantly and dragged me around the park at a high rate of speed”). But humans, unlike Hounds, are so indirect!

As you may imagine, when I am out and about I attract considerable attention as befits a creature of my imposing and handsome stature and I listen intently to the many comments made by these passing humans:

Comments Overheard by Wimsey During His Walks

What is said: “What a big dog!”
What is meant: Can you believe what an idiot his owner is to harbor a dog of that size!

What is said: “Does he do OK in the city?”
What is meant: I bet you have no life and no furniture.

What is said: “Does he bite?”
What is meant: Will be bite me? I don’t particularly care about anyone else.

What is said: “Listen to him sing! What a great noise.”
What is meant: How do you make him stop.

What is said: “Why is he making that noise?”
What is meant: How do you make him stop.

What is said: “Who’s taking who for a walk?”
What is meant: What psychological illness compels small women to have big, lively dogs?

What is said: “Is he a nice dog?”
What is meant: Should I be standing this close to him? I’m actually afraid of dogs but am pretending not to be and I am sure no one will notice.

What is said: “Is he lazy and does he like to hang out on the couch?”
What is meant: He might fit right into my lifestyle.

What is said: “He’s so cute.”
What is meant: As long as he belongs to you

And of course the holidays are upon us and humans will be sending each other greeting cards whose cheery prose is also not entirely forthright. So I think there is a market for a line of Wimsey the Honest Hound greeting cards:

Happy Birthday from your Hound. You gonna eat that cake?

Your Hound wishes you a Merry Christmas and reminds you that it is always better to give (to your hound) than to receive (if you expect to receive something from your hound you will be waiting a long time)

Happy Chanukah from your Chosen Hound

Your Hound wishes you a joyous Easter and reminds you that he likes hard boiled eggs

Happy Valentine’s Day! Isn’t it great that even though you are alone you have such a wonderful Hound to love?!

Happy Fourth of July! Red White and Blue, Statue of Liberty, Declaration of Independence, No Taxation Without Representation, Don’t Tread on Me (especially my tail), the Sons of Liberty, the Boston Tea Party, Lexington and Concord. Now where are my hotdogs. (PS:George Washington himself was a Hound man, so he would have approved this message)

Happy Anniversary! I am so glad there are two of you to take care of me

Congratulations on the birth of your baby. 9 out of 10 Americans think puppies are cuter.

Happy Halloween. Don’t even think about putting a costume on me or else I will leave a steaming “treat” of my own on the living room carpet.

It has taken me a long time to understand that the best way to deal with humans is to completely ignore what they say, especially when in the show ring or on a commercial shoot. If they refuse to consistently say what they mean then they deserve to be made to look foolish by a Hound. How do I really know that “Wimsey sit" and "Wimsey stay” doesn’t actually mean “Wimsey wander around and then come jump on me for this piece of turkey” or that “Wimsey trot” doesn’t mean “ Wimsey take off with me around the show ring at a gallop.” No wonder humans can’t seem to negotiate world peace. (“Yes we Americans do love the French. Everyone does.” “England has the finest cuisine in the world and is ruled by such a good looking family!” “No, Italian men are no hotter or more stylish than the Germans,” etc., etc., etc.).

Anyway, all this has put me in a mood to visit The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art.
Today, even though we have on view one of the world’s most famous paintings, it too can benefit from some houndly intervention. The Blue Boy (Thomas Gainsborogh, 1770, The Huntington Gallery, San Marino, California). Now this famous portrait is not at all what it seems—although the boy looks quite posh, he is really the son of a hardware merchant and his blue outfit, which is in the style of the early 1600s, is really a costume. The painting was Gainsborough’s homage to Anthony Van Dyck, an artistic luminary of the previous century. But what is really shockingly amiss is that that magnificent feather in the boy’s hat is resting entirely unmolested. In a nation of Hounds what are the odds of that happening! The addition of a Hound messing with the feather adds truth and verisimilitude to an otherwise deceptive portrait. Wimsey Boy.

Well time for me to be off. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been removing and hiding some treasures from Central Park (an old tennis ball is my most recent acquisition) and it is now time for me to admire my collection before Maria gets home in a confiscatory mood.

Until next time,

Wimsey the honest hound

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wimsey's Blog:Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 42
November 23, 2007

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here. Well I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! What can I say-- any holiday that involves large amounts of food and giving thanks for one’s Hound gets my vote. And of course the Upper West Side of Manhattan is the perfect venue to experience the holiday frenzy at its max. From the crowds watching the Macy’s Day balloons beings inflated to the masses of people cramming Fairway, Citarella’s and Zabars—primo gourmet shops all and chock a block with Hound pleasing food. Sad to say neither my human Maria nor her friend Elizabeth cooked this year (last year I stayed with Elizabeth whilst Maria was out of town and I experienced firsthand the profound sense of spiritual joy that comes from being in the presence of a large piece of poultry; I spent many fulfilling hours gazing lovingly at in both its cooked and uncooked state).

But this year a restaurant meal was chosen instead---I think Elizabeth objects to my helpful presence in the kitchen and to my propensity to climb upon her guests. But restaurant or no, Thanksgiving is is a time when I get to spend lots of extra hours with my humans. Since my daily runner was on vacation for most of the week, I got to stroll about Central Park with Elizabeth spreading the joys of the season in my inimitable loud fashion. And I was even mistaken for a Malamute! There is a long list of breeds that I have been mistaken for, but never a Malamute. I was extremely pleased, I can tell you. Someone thinking that you are a tough Arctic sled dog is the canine equivalent of being mistaken for Brad Pitt. It was left to Elizabeth to explain that so far from being a tough Arctic sled dog, I am, in actuality, a mild mannered Mid-Atlantic bloodhound. But I am adept at towing humans if not sleds, so I think that should count for something Too bad humans view towing as a less than desirable activity and one for which I am periodically demoted to wearing a humiliating Halti.

But anyway, in the spirit of the season:

Things that I, Wimsey am personally thankful for:

I am thankful for my extreme charm and good looks courtesy of my Creator (with a little help from my breeder) with which I am abundantly endowed.

I am thankful for the fact that my humans mostly appear to worship me (except when they pull out the Halti).

I am thankful for my Central Park estate and the diverse horticultural elements available therein upon which I am able pee.

I am thankful for the good taste of the New York City locals and tourists who stop to admire me, pet me and to photograph me.

I am thankful for the intoxicating scent of dirty underwear.

I am thankful for Wimsey Bath Night (except for the actual bathing part) where I get to consume a quarter of a pound of roast turkey, ravage a new bully stick and poke my nose in my human’s post bath cocktails.

I am thankful for the shreddable Chinese food menus that the delivery men so thoughtfully slip under the door each afternoon for my entertainment.

I am thankful for my Running Paws runner Roy and the fact that he is still (mostly) uninjured.

I am thankful for human laps upon which I love to sit (albeit only part of me at a time).

In any case, it is a sad fact of life that humans, in addition to being insufficiently grateful for things in general, fail to appreciate we Hounds to our fullest extent. As a case in point, I mentioned that on Wednesday I went for a walk in Central Park with Elizabeth. Now afterwards we went back to her place where she uncharacteristically decided to take an afternoon nap. Now personally I don’t believe that a post walk nap is particularly desirable or healthy unless the walk has been at least in excess of three hours, which this particularly walk (much to my annoyance) was not. So every time Elizabeth fell asleep I considered it my houndly duty to wake her up. She was not at all grateful for this although I cannot think of anything more delightful than being woken up by me! After all, this process entails an up close and personal experience of a multitude of my wonderfully contrasting textures—the velvety folds of my wrinkles, the moist, cold wetness of my nose (enhanced by the warm, moist snuffling of my nasal air currents), the tiny spikes of bristles with which my muzzle is studded, and of course, the all important and ubiquitous drool. Anyway, Elizabeth was not happy, but in the end she realized that I had only her best interests at heart; me sitting in her lap whilst she scratched me was a much better use of her time than all this pointless napping.

Well, anyway, as I observed last week, I am not so much a Dog as a Lifestyle and it has come to my attention that there are quite a number of lifestyle gurus out there publishing magazines, selling merchandise and telling people how to live. Now since I myself am no slouch at telling people how to live and I always have plenty of ideas for stylish new merchandise I am thinking about launching myself as the ultimate Hound Stylist and Life Guru (Wimsey Stewart and his Upper West Side line of stuff for you to spend money on and make me rich—no tips here on creating entire
suites of furniture from pine cones).

Interior Design: Classic New Century Hound

For your living room:
The Wimsey living room is styled using generously proportioned and finely overstuffed couches, chairs and loveseats, highly conducive to Hound, post-three hour walk napping. Soft fabrics make these pieces easy on the delicate Hound skin. Large, expensively burnished wood frames contribute to the chewing pleasure of the Hound and an extensive supply of replacement cushions (in a variety of interesting textures) add to your hound’s shredding pleasure.

For your dining room: The Wimsey dining room consists of tables and chairs at half the normal height, providing your hound casual, stress free access to all the food on the table. Your hound can simply pick and choose what to steal without unduly disrupting your normal mealtime activities.

For your kitchen: Here we have the patented Wimsey Easy Open Fridge. Why let your Hound disturb your leisure activities with requests for snacks when he can easily help himself using this modern, labor saving piece of essential kitchen equipment? The Wimsey Patented Easy Open Fridge comes in a variety of finishes designed to enhance developing drool patterns. Also for the kitchen, is the Wimsey line of Easy Lick cookware. Reduce your carbon footprint by using this more natural, energy efficient and environmentally friendly means to deal with your kitchen mess.

For your bathroom: A Swinging Transparent Door design ensures that you are always visible and accessible to your Hound during those anxiety producing and mysterious potty breaks humans always seem to need. Allay your hound’s fears that you are escaping through a secret bathroom exit by making your presence known and your activities completely visible. Additional features of the Wimsey bathroom include the award winning Never Close Toilet for those thirsty hounds, a line of deep pile pima cotton extra- shredable towels and the companion Never Close, ground level clothes hamper (dirty underwear not included).

For your bedroom: Here we have the Wimsey Gi-normous Square Bed –put an end forever to those annoying complaints about you sleeping the wide way. Banish in perpetuity that irritating shoving and grumbling from your human about your sleep orientation. And surrounding the Wimsey Gi-normous Square Bed is a faux rug in thickly sculpted foam to cushion your human’s fall when you shove them out of the bed anyway. The Wimsey bed comes with its own line of Wimsey linens—soft, loose, and tear proof-- the Wimsey bed line comes in an assortment of Hound flattering colors crafted to withstand months of midnight bed digging activities.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?. (now all I have to do is line up the traditional life style guru sweatshop in China to manufacture it all).

Well, as I am in an artistic and creative mood, it seems an appropriate time to pay another visit to The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art:

The Countess of Chinchon (Francisco Goya, 1800, Prado Museum, Madrid). Here we have a beautiful work by the Spanish Romantic painter Francisco Goya. This painting hails from a period when Goya devoted himself to painting women and children instead of the horrors of war that characterized his later work. And this little countess is so young, so fragile and so sad in spite of her beautiful and richly painted gown. Forced by the King’s order to marry at 18 to a man she despised, Goya beautifully captures the lady’s premature sadness. But what a consolation it would be for her if she had a little hound upon which to dote! It is very difficult to be sad in the presence of a hound even if one has a wealthy and unfaithful relative of the king’s for a husband. The Countess of Chinchon and Her Lap Hound Wimsey.

Well all this talk of napping and lap sitting has put me in the mood for a bit of a kip. And remember, today is the first day of the holiday shopping season—be generous towards your Hound. He will be thankful for your presents (although he may not show it).

Until next time,

Wimsey, the holiday animal

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 41
November 16, 2007

Hello Everyone. It’s me, Wimsey, coming to you from the glorious upper west side of Manhattan where all the women are strong (they have to be) and all the Hounds are above average. Well autumn is in full swing here with the leaves finally splashing out in their autumnal best. But sadly, the NYC Parks Department has gotten wind of my leaf rampaging activities and now their lovely, leafy pee-able piles are assembled in inaccessible canvas bins rather than in Wimsey friendly mounds. I do pee on the canvas bins of course, but somehow it is just not the same. Anyway, as those of you who read last week’s post are aware my human Maria’s friend Elizabeth was AWOL at some boring conference and also had the temerity to spend time with an Unauthorized Male (those into whose backsides I have not poked my generous proboscis). Well, we Wimseys are a relatively forgiving lot so as penance Elizabeth had to spend a mere four hours on Sunday being towed around Central Park by Yours Truly. I also extorted quite a few guilt cookies from her and periodically parked my extensive tush in her lap. No one crosses Wimsey and gets away unscathed—and Elizabeth has the bruises and sore feet to prove it.

Now whilst I was charging about the park punishing Elizabeth, I noticed quite a wide variety of humans stopping by to take my picture and to admire me or to give me a scratch. No matter what their differences they all seem to be enamored of me. Apparently humans have a long history of not getting along with each other very well, but I have now concluded that this is because they have not had a suitable Hound to unify them.

The United Nations of Wimsey

Secretary General Wimsey: We will all come to order. Let us recite the United Nations of Wimsey Pledge to begin the session:

Delegates: “We promise to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind and to worship and obey you in all things, Oh Great Hound.”

Secretary General Wimsey: Excellent. Now what is our first order of business?

Speaker: Well the English and the French are fighting again.

Secretary General Wimsey: This has been going on for 900 hundred years. What is it this time?

English delegate: The frogs won’t give us back Calais or the Aquitaine which are the rightful property of England, they are snooty to us in restaurants and they refuse to speak proper English.

French delegate: Well, these beefsteaks burned Joan of Arc, used sneaky tactics to slay the flower of French knighthood at Agincourt and have execrable taste in food.

Secretary General Wimsey: Well in point of fact, Calais and the Aquitaine --as well as the rest of France-- belong to me. My ancestors conquered it soon after arriving from the Holy Land during the Crusades. Also speaking English is vastly overrated—my humans do it all the time and they never have anything remotely intelligible to say (other than “Wimsey, would you like a cookie?”) I suggest we just all bay and the world would be a much more harmonious place, although a tad on the loud side. Anyway, sneaky tactics are a specialty of the Hound so I don’t see a problem with that (it is quite likely that Henry V’s chief military advisor was a Hound), the Joan of Arc thing was unfortunate I agree, but as to culinary matters, no food is appalling, even the stuff the English eat. And I can’t see that eating frogs and snails is much of a step up in any case. But I digress. I command both sides to shake hands, air kiss on each cheek and then you can rub my belly for two hours.

Speaker: Well now Secretary General Wimsey we have a dispute between the Canadians and the Americans.

Canadian delegate: People in the United States refuse to believe that we are a real country, aye. They belittle, demean and make fun of our Great Canadian Nation and they believe that we are merely a province of America that produces beer and hockey players.

American delegate: And?

Secretary General Wimsey: Gentleman, please. There is more that unites you in this dispute than divides you. For instance, do you think that I am an incredibly handsome hound?

American and Canadian delegates: Of course.

Secretary General Wimsey: See, you agree on the important things. So what does it matter if one of you resides in a big empty country with beer and hockey players and the other in a big crowded country without these estimable attributes. You both agree that I am handsome. Now you may shake hands and feed me some biscuits.

Speaker: We also have a dispute between Argentina and Brazil.

Argentinean delegate: The tango is the preeminent dance of South America!

Brazilian delegate: No! It is the samba!

Argentinean Delegate: We have troops massing on your border who will teach you otherwise!

Secretary General Wimsey: There will be no massing of troops anywhere, except those assembled to admire me! You are both in the wrong here—the preeminent dance everywhere in the world is the Wimsey Poop Dance. It is a beautiful thing to behold: first I chasse forward quickly, execute a 180 degree pivot turn and then chasse back. This combination is repeated several times. Then I execute three quick, technically demanding pivot turns (being careful to maintain my spot) et voila! I will now perform it for you and rather than fighting you can clean up.

And speaking of dancing, Maria found a TV show on FitTV called “Shimmy” that purports to be a belly dance workout. She DVR’d it for Elizabeth who belly dances herself and we had quite a time. Elizabeth was so carried away by the video that she put on a private show just for me (I am a pasha after all). Of course her dance left something to be desired as she was shimmying around in baggy jeans and an old sweater—hardly an ensemble in the spirit of the harem if you get my drift and it was not exactly the sensuous feast for the eyes that was intended. Somewhere some sultan is turning over in his grave. But I showed my appreciation for her dance by watching her intently and then standing up and putting my paws on her shoulder—although I am told that there are no belly dance parts for male bloodhounds—a shocking omission. (I do, however, know quite a few Labradors who can undulate their tails. I have never mastered this, but my tail is said to be in the shape of a Turkish scimitar, which I should think would count).

Anyway, the fact that an ever increasing proportion of my humans’ wardrobe consists of “hound clothes” (think big, baggy and stinky—and I say again,, the ladies wonder why they don’t get dates) confirms me in my belief that I am not merely a dog, but a Lifestyle. If Martha Stewart can peddle gracious upper middle class Westchester living to the masses, I, Wimsey, can promote the Hound Lifestyle to the denizens of New York City. I am contemplating a complete line of home furnishings and fashion which I will be at liberty to reveal in next week’s post. But for now, I have a busy agenda (Maria left a pile of shreddable mail on the table again and it has my name on it) and it is also time to pay our weekly visit to The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art.

The Adoration of the Golden Calf (Nicolas Poussin, 1634, National Gallery, London) We return again to France to find this week’s artist in need of a Hound. This time we have on view a famous picture by one of the masters of French 17th century art, Nicolas Poussin. The son of a Norman farmer, Poussin’s work was improbably heavily influenced by stylistic elements of antiquity and this painting, although dealing with a biblical theme, smacks of a Greco-Roman bacchanal. The figures appear to be both active and static at the same time—all part of Poussin’s genius. However, it really doesn’t make much sense that people would choose to worship a calf—cows being not especially intelligent and only semi-cute—when there are so many more suitable animals available. See how the painting makes so much more sense if the worshippers are celebrating the presence of a Golden Hound in their midst! Isn’t he beautiful? And so appropriately placed on a pedestal —it could almost be today. The Adoration of the Golden Wimsey

Well, sadly it is time once again for me to leave you. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember to give thanks for the presence of your Hound by sharing copious quantities of turkey and trimmings.

Until next time,

Wimsey, for whom my humans are eternally thankful (or should be),

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 40
November 9, 2007

Hello Everyone. It’s me, Wimsey, and I am mighty peeved, I can tell you. I seem to be short one human in my entourage. My human Maria’s friend Elizabeth has been busy attending some non-Wimsey related conference all week and has only resurfaced for yesterday’s evening walk. The perfidy of humans! Now however fine an individual Maria might be, she alone does not constitute an entourage; as a Hound of Stature I feel naked without my full complement of humans. Like an ancient potentate, I require my retinue to serve my needs (scooping my poop), to defend me from my enemies (dogs that begrudge me my beautiful testicles) and also as a means to call attention to my high status.

In fact, I am very much like an ancient king in many other ways too-I have compliant female attendants (Maria and Elizabeth), I extort tribute (biscuits) at frequent intervals, I recline on a divan (the couch), I enforce my will benevolently wherever possible but am not above taking what I want by force or guile (dirty underwear), I am in possession of vast resources (rawhides, bully sticks and stuffed toys), I engage in martial war games (eviscerated stuffed toys), I believe that everything I survey belongs to me (other people’s water bottles), I am accomplished in the courtly arts (singing and wooing the ladies) and the people of my demesne pay homage as I pass by (joyous shouts of “He’s so cute!”).

Anyway, if Elizabeth wants to skive off to conferences they should at least be Wimsey related:

Wimsey: Impact on Modern Scholarship and Culture

Music Track
Musicological theory and the tonal dynamics of the bay

Biology Track
Activation of HOX A genes in the induction of drool production

Aesthetics Track
Grooming the hound jewels: a study in style

Physics track
The biomechanics of towing: Newton’s laws revisited

Ethics track
What would Wimsey do?

History Track
The seminal role of Renaissance Wimseys in the Tudor Court

Government Track
Constitutional arguments for Hound enfranchisement

Pop Culture Track
Should Hounds be permitted in rehab?

Psychology Track
Wimsey: The Ultimate Freudian Analyst

Anyway, in addition to being absent without leave from Wimsey World, Elizabeth also had the temerity to fraternize with a male not of my choosing. This is very troubling as not only am I a Wing Man par excellence, but in my experience human females are very poor judges as to the worth of a potential mate. As for me, I like to keep things simple (does she have a profusion of alluring wrinkles and, most important, is she available), but humans seem to like to make things complicated, which is where they go so terribly wrong. For instance, they want to know what someone does for a living whereas the optimum situation is that the person does nothing for a living so they can sit on the couch and scratch me. Also humans seem to want the mates they can’t have or the same ones that everyone else wants, which makes no sense whatsoever. As a recognized expert in the field of human romantic endeavors, I believe that there are certain personal attributes that are key to successful relationships:

Lots of free time for long walks
A passionate interest in sitting on the couch scratching me (TV optional)
A tactile nature that can appreciate and savor the sensuous feel of rich, smooth hound hair under their hands
A waterproof or otherwise drool resistant wardrobe
A sturdy frame capable of supporting a 125 lb. lap dancing hound
A sense of humor
A soft hearted nature amenable to fulfilling and indulging the wishes of a Hound
A lack of attachment to material possessions such as those at risk of being shredded, chewed, ripped or otherwise rendered useless
A generous nature with a willingness to share food and furniture with a loveable hound
A poor sense of smell

Anyway, it is infuriating that Elizabeth has spent time with a male not of my choosing—he could be anybody, after all—an axe murderer or worse yet, someone who doesn’t like dogs (I believe that Dante reserved a special circle in Hell for these people). I will have to keep a close watch on Elizabeth in the future to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, or at least not outside of my purview. The terror of being introduced to a woman’s father pales in comparison to being introduced to her Hound--I have so many more weapons of disdain in my arsenal (the teeth, the drool and of course, my favorite: the lifted leg). And as for Maria, she knows the futility of even trying to sneak off without my permission:

Unauthorized date: What’s that smell?
Maria: Uh, it’s a new shampoo I just tried.

Unauthorized date: I don’t think I ever smelled anything like it before. And what are these spiky red hairs I now seem to be covered with?”

Maria: They’re mine; I am a red head after all.

Unauthorized date: But then what are these black ones? And what are those whitish splotches on your clothes?

Maria: I am very clumsy and habitually spill beverages on myself.

Unauthorized date: Have you been in a fight! Where did you get all those bruises?

Maria: I ran into a door.

Unauthorized date: Yikes! There seems to be a Giant Hound taking up your entire apartment.

Maria: He belongs to my friend Elizabeth.

So as you can see, it is pointless for Maria to even attempt social relations without my approval. In fact she is virtually obligated to disclose my existence immediately:

Guy: “Hello, my name is Tom. Would you like to go out with me?”
Maria: “I have a giant Hound and he smells, flings drool, sheds, sits on you, sticks his nose in your food, accompanies you to the bathroom and doesn’t like to be alone.”
Guy: “On second thought…”

All this is reason why it is much better if I pre-select the guy. After I am done with him if he still wants to go out with one of my women, I know he is a good match. It’s really a case of “Love me, love my women.”

And speaking of compliant women attendants, as you know, I have always fancied myself a bit of a pasha. Therefore it is entirely appropriate that in this week’s visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art we examine one of the great Odalisques of the art world:

Olympia (Edouard Manet, 1863, Musee d’Orsay, Paris). Well, we have previously seen how Manet’s “Dejeuner Sur L’herbe” caused a scandal in the art world, but the furor over Olympia was even worse. The site of this brazen, yet sensuous courtesan, painted in a realistic style, boldly looking at us in open challenge infuriated and shocked many viewers. The painting even had to be protected to keep people from damaging it. But see how the atmosphere of “luxe, calme et volupte” is enhanced by the bold glance of a sensuously draped Hound. And the presence of the Hound even clarifies the look on the face of the servant: she is undoubtedly questioning the sanity of her mistress (like so many of Maria’s acquaintances also do when viewing me at full drape). Anyway, the presence of the large Hound also serves to emphasize the elegant petiteness of the subject, thus enhancing her beauty. Olympia is clearly pleased by the presence of the Great Hound, unlike Elizabeth who often complains that I make her look even shrimpier. Clearly she lacks the taste of Olympia in failing to perceive the potential allure of shrimpiness. Wimsey’s Olympia.

Well, time again to bid you farewell for another week. My entourage is assembling for my evening perambulation.

Until next time,

Wimsey Pasha