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!