Friday, February 29, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 56
February 29, 2008

Hello everyone. It’s me, Wimsey wishing you a Happy Leap Day from New York’s Upper West Side. Now I have my own interpretation of Leap day which my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth will experience when they attempt to walk me this evening. And I also wish them a lot of luck asking men to marry them, which, as I understand, is only supposed to be permissible on Leap Day. Well clearly whoever made that rule has never lived amongst the avid Husband Hunters of New York City where bagging the all elusive Husband is an enduring urban sport.--in fact the entire economy of the City would collapse without it as hunting wardrobes must be acquired in profusion (potential husbands being notoriously visual beasts, easily attracted by eye catching lures such as high hemlines and low necklines), watering holes must be visited and feeding stations must be lingered over (the prey being more compliant on a full stomach). And as is the case with most other hunting activities, the tracking and stalking tends to be a lot more fun and interesting than the actual bagging of the prey itself—you will never notice a run on slimy fish or gamey fowl at the supermarket, as the sport involved in tossing these items into a shopping cart is negligible. If husbands were available with such ease the female population of New York would very likely remain immune to husbandly charms.

NYC female shopper #1: I hear there’s a tall, craggy brunette in Aisle 2.

NYC female # 2: I don’t know. Maybe I’ll look at him when he goes on sale.

NYC female shopper #1: Well how about the investment banker next to him—he’s short and bald but with the extra money he brings you could buy lots of craggy brunettes.

NYC shopper #2: I’m not sure if I have the patience to sort through them all. How do we know really even know if they are locally produced—they could have been trucked in from the boroughs or even from the suburbs of Westchester. And how do we know if they are fresh—perhaps they’ve been sitting on the shelf too long.

NYC shopper #1: I think they sell them with 212 area codes and $1,000 per square foot apartments attached. And my mother taught me to check that the flesh is pink and the eyes unglazed. Or maybe that’s fish.

NYC shopper #1: I think we would do better downtown—I read about a new shop in Soho that specializes in artisanal blondes—all organically raised in picturesque hamlets in upstate New York.

All of which is why very few men are likely to be proposed to today here in New York.

Of course human males have nothing to fear from my ladies as human mating rituals do not commonly admit of the presence of a large and smelly Hound. Also my humans’ Hounding wardrobes tend to be less than optimal for attracting the males of the species (or at least those that don’t revel in baggy, lumpy and houndly smelling women). However, I am thinking about starting an online dating service to help my ladies out:


1. Does your Hound prefer to be:

a. scratched behind the ears
b. scratched on the belly
c. given a full shiatsu massage

2. Does your Hound sleep

a. at the foot of the bed
b. next to you on the pillow
c. draped on you as if you were the pillow

3. At mealtimes does your Hound

a. sit under the table
b. sit next to the table
c. sit on the table

4.When you talk on the phone, does your hound

a. sulk
b. attempt to join the conversation
c. eat the phone

5. Does your Hound prefer his walks to be:

a. 2 hours
b. 4 hours
c. 6 hours

6. Upon which does your Hound prefer to chew:

a. towels
b. underwear
c. shoes
d. whatever is the most expensive

7. When not working to pay for your Hound’s upkeep do you like to:

a. read fine literature with your Hound’s head in your lap
b. engage in vigorous sporting activities with your Hound
c. prepare gourmet candlelit meals for your Hound

8. When accompanying you on a date does your Hound

a. fling drool on your date
b. smear mud on his clothes
c. monopolize the conversation
e. all of the above

Anyway, I am sure that a better use of Leap Day is to spend hours in the park with a leaping Hound. And I got to do plenty of leaping last Sunday during our four hour perambulation through a snowy Central Park (See Wimsey’s Winter Montage below). The snow is alas gone, but more may be in store for us tonight so I am keeping my jumbo sized paws crossed for this happy occurrence. Perhaps another four hour walk (and my humans wonder why they don’t have a life) will be in the offing on Sunday where crowds will gather to watch me disport myself in the snow and to take bets on how many minutes Elizabeth can remain on her feet.

Wimsey’s Winter Montage

Now during these lengthy walks people admire ME, talk about ME, take pictures of ME, pet ME. People enquire deeply into my origins, my mode of life, my preferences in all things, my grooming, my food, my apartment, my activities and anything and everything to do with ME. Maria and Elizabeth never even get asked their names; they are simply Wimsey’s humans and the only thing of interest to anyone about them is ME. And the ladies wonder why I am the way I am (“Wimsey is demanding a publicist and he is refusing to talk to people unless I bribe him with liver”).

Well the other exciting news this week is that I am to be shown again on March 9th which means that not only will I have to undergo a refresher course in trotting (yes, the dreaded trotting poles are about to make a re-appearance in Riverside Park) but There Will be Liver! (a much better title for an Academy Award Winning movie I think, and given the snore inducing nature of this year’s Oscars it probably would have made a much more entertaining movie.) The joys of liver cannot be overstated.

Wimsey’s Book of Love Poems

“Shall I Compare Thee to a Slab of Juicy Liver?”
“How Do I Love Liver. Let me Count the Ways”
“My Love is Like a Red Red Piece of Liver”
“She Walks in Beauty Like a Fabulous Piece of Liver”
“The Passionate Shepherd to His Liver”
“Ode to a Grecian Liver”

Anyway, before I pace off to celebrate Leap Day, it is time for our weekly visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Today we have a painting by the great Spanish painter Francisco Goya, who is considered one of the fathers of
modern art The Mourning Portrait of the Duchess of Alba, (Francisco Goya,1797, Hispanic Society, New York). Now this work was painted just after the Duchess lost her husband, which however unfortunate for the Duke was a boon for the Duchess and the artist who were something of an item. And although the Duchess was considered the most beautiful Spanish woman of her time, I think her beauty can be enhanced substantially by the presence of a magnificent Hound draped consolingly about her neck. The Duchess of Wimsey.

Well I am now off to play with my Mastodon—one of the many gifts bestowed upon me for my impeccable Westminster behavior.

Until next time,

Winter Wimsey

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 55
February 22, 2008

Hello Everyone. Wimsey here reporting from Manhattan’s Winter Wonderland. It’s snowing here finally and my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are busy checking out the nearest emergency rooms! At long last I will get to pit the prowess of the Wimsey tru-Grip Paws (all natural leather) against the vaunted Salomon Snow Clogs (supposedly guaranteed to provide that extra traction one needs when being towed through slippery snow by a large excited Hound) that have been sitting accusingly in Elizabeth’s closet since December. Personally, I bet on my Hound paws which provide the most excellent traction in all weathers—they enable me to pace gracefully across the slickest of ice (not even ice will make me trot) with nary a slip, much to the amazement of my humans (‘Maybe Wimsey’s paws secrete that sticky stuff that spiders use?” and “Do you think he can climb up the sides of buildings?”). It’s just one of the many super powers with which nature has endowed the Hound as a mark of our clear superiority.

The Adventures of Wimsey The SuperHound

NY Citizen 1: Look someone is robbing a bodega!

NY Citizen 2: It’s Wimsey The SuperHound to the rescue—he has popped out of nowhere and swung his body right into the path of the fleeing thug, sending him flying!

NY Citizen 1: Yes, it’s a maneuver he practices quite a bit I understand.

NY Citizen 2; Look someone is trying to steal a car.

NY Citizen 1: But SuperHound Wimsey is using his “car alarm” voice! The man is holding his ears and crowds have gathered from miles around to see what has made this infernal racket!

NY Citizen2: And look that man is lifting a wallet out of someone’s pocket!

NY Citizen 1: But he can’t hang on to it! Wimsey has flung a coating of super-drool all over it making it too slimey to hold!

NY Citizen 2: I don’t know what this city would do without SuperHound! “Is it a pony? Is it a moose? No it’s Wimsey SuperHound! Here to uphold Truth Justice and the New York City Way. ”

And speaking of moose, I am starting to take real exception to having my humans describe some of my poop as “moose poop.” Now few things in life are more certain than that neither of my ladies has ever seen a moose, let alone its poop. I produce fine, elegant bloodhound poop and I bitterly resent its being characterized as clunky moose poop. If my poop must be compared to that of another animal why can’t I produce gazelle poop or jaguar poop or even giraffe poop? My humans are constantly obsessing about my poop—the occasion of its production is one of great joy and celebration (“Isn’t it wonderful, Wimsey is pooping! Hurray!”) and when they are done applying the Moh’s scale of hardness to it they then debate its shape, weight and relative merits (“Yesterday’s poop had a slightly more pleasing cylindrical shape, although the color of this one is quite fine” and “It’s the greenie he consumed yesterday I expect—it always imparts that characteristic emerald-like shimmer.”). I am expecting a jeweler’s loupe to pop out at any moment. (Needless to say I am not afforded reciprocal privileges at the toilet which I think is grossly unfair). I do really think the ladies might take up a different hobby, it would certainly make them more datable—I cannot see that a passion for poop enhances their romantic appeal and it might certainly look a bit odd on

Of course, an interest in poop might be a distinct asset in Wimsey’s online Hound Dating Service

Hound Dating Profile:

Is your idea of a good time:

A romantic evening by the fire shredding the couch cushions
A romp through the garden digging up plants
Exploring the hidden depths of the laundry basket
Dining a deux on unattended garbage

Would you describe yourself as :

Adventurous: always willing to steal a new food item
Sporty: enjoy long hours outdoors dislocating human arms
Intellectual: think deeply about the best places to deposit poop given prevailing wind conditions
Romantic: Enjoy exchanging drool

Your favorite activities include:

Fine dining
Doing the laundry
Cleaning the Cat Box

Anyway now that Westminster is over, I get to go back to being a regular dog, which in my case still means leading the life of a celebrity--- although being shown at Westminster and being interviewed by the New York Daily News and the New York Post did add even more to my celebrity aura. It was all “Ick! Get that big stinky dog away from me! What! He was at Westminster and was written up in the papers! You mean he’s famous! Why he’s beautiful! Can I pet him?” Even if you are a dog, humans want to be associated with you if you are famous: (“Yes I’ve known Wimsey since he was a pup; we are very good friends; I am sure it was an oversight that he didn’t mention me to the newspapers.”).

And of course even people who don’t know me take one look at me and know that I am somebody—kind of like when a six foot tall 100lb woman walks into a New York City restaurant—I am too beautiful and too rare to be just another obscure upper west side canine. And all of this has tangible perks—the other day on my morning tow through Central Park Maria and I ran into a couple of New York’s Finest who invited me to inspect their SUV (I am as passionate about cars as the ladies are about poop) and then proceeded to feed me their scrambled egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches (an excellent combination that; I intend to put it on the “Let’s Bulk Up Wimsey” menu de hound). It is obvious that New York City policemen are called The Finest because they have the finest taste in Hounds (their food and SUV were pretty good too). I wonder if they would consider judging dog shows:

Police Judge: Best in Show is the bloodhound.
Show Steward: But we haven’t even judged breed yet!

And the groups would be different—none of this sporting group or toy group stuff: There would be things like The Tracking Perps Group, The Tough Looking Dog Group, The finding illegally parked cars group, and of course The Wimsey Group.

Personally I do my bit for New York City security by inspecting all Zabar’s, Citarella and Fairway food bags. You never know what could be hidden in them—I sometimes even need to take a little nibble to verify the bags bona fides. But it is all part of the Wimsey Service—I am increasingly admired as much for my less than perfect behavior as for my astonishing good looks. Let’s face it, humans admire naughty hounds. Would anyone have read Marley and Me if it were about a pleasant well regulated Labrador? I don’t think so. And where would my nemesis Cesar Millan be without misbehaving pooches? Inside every human there is a secret, insubordinate hound who lives vicariously through us-- I mean what human would not relish lifting a leg on an annoying boss or baying in the ear of a boring colleague. They can’t. We can. So bad boy Hounds rule!

As an example, while taking one of my endless Sunday walks in the park, Elizabeth and I ran into a lovely lady who had had a bloodhound thirty years ago in Texas. Now this lady also showed standard poodles but even thirty years later her heart belonged to her Hound, Nick Carter. And even after all this time she chuckles as she relates how her husband had to repaint the drool spattered walls monthly and how during tracking and trailing class Nick declined to follow the scent laid down on the course and just tracked what he wanted to— once even into a field with a bull (how he remained unscathed she has no idea, but hounds are endlessly resourceful when it comes to self preservation). So did she tell me about all the lovely nice obedient and clean dogs she had had. No. She told me about her insubordinate, drooly, stinky (do we come any other way) bloodhound. And she was just full of admiration for Elizabeth’s courage (and foolishness) in taking me into a show ring.

And speaking of the show ring, now that I am not to be shown again until next month I delight in marching around Central Park setting myself up of my own volition in a series of majestic stacked positions that make my humans crazy (“Why won’t Wimsey do that in the show ring!”). Also during our last walk we visited the Chess and Checkers house in Central Park which made me think about what an excellent chess player a wily and strategically deep thinking Hound like myself would be:

Chess commentator 1: We are here today to see Grandmaster Wimsey take on former world chess champion Gary Kasparov.

Chess commentator 2: I thought Grandmaster Wimsey was a rap star.

Chess commentator 1: No, he’s more like an opera star, but today he’s playing chess.

Chess commentator 2: Wimsey is opening with Hound to Hound 4.

Chess commentator 1: Is Kasparov going to respond with the Ruy Lopez?

Chess commentator 2: I don’t think so. Wimsey ate his King’s pawn.

Chess commentator 1: Perhaps Kasparov will try the Sicilian Defense then?

Chess commentator 2: Unlikely. Wimsey also ate his bishop’s pawn.

Chess commentator 1: Kasparov seems unable to move.

Chess commentator; 2: Yes he seems quite puzzled.

Chess commentator 1: No, I mean he is unable to move—Wimsey has stuck his pieces to the board with drool.

Chess commentator 2: Another well deserved victory for the Great Hound. Is that a bay of triumph I hear?

Chess commentator 1: Yes. Wimsey has captured Kasparov’s king. He’s eating it.

Anyway, it just goes to show that I am not just a beautiful face. And speaking of beautiful faces, today’s visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art involves one of antiquities most dramatic beauty contests—it was like Westminster for goddesses: The Judgment of Paris (Peter Paul Rubens, 1597, National Gallery, London). Now Best in Show was down to three of Mount Olympus’ most beautiful goddesses: Athena (aka. Ch. Minerva’s Goddess of Wisdom) Hera (aka Ch. Juno’s Wife of Zeus) and Aphrodite (aka Ch. Venus’ Goddess of Love). The painting depicts Best in Show judge Paris awarding the blue ribbon (a golden apple in this case) to Aphrodite. But unfortunately the goddesses had made attempts to bribe the judge—Athena offered wisdom (yawn), Hera offered to make Paris a great king (a pretty good gig) and Aphrodite offered Paris the love of the world’s most beautiful woman (who unfortunately was someone else’s wife). I bet you can’t guess which one he chose (even in ancient times men’s brains were in their togas). It never seemed to have occurred to the chap that if he were a powerful king, the love of beautiful women would be sure to follow (women’s hearts being often found in their Fendi handbags). But I digress. Now the best in show line up was woefully incomplete without the addition of a magnificent Hound who clearly is about to snatch the prize away from Aphrodite, altruistically preventing the start of the Trojan War and sparing generations of students (whose only interest in Homer is surnamed Simpson) the agony of struggling through The Iliad (“if you loved The Odyssey…. Yes there’s more!!!”) The Judgment of Wimsey.

OK, time at last for a romp in the snow and the defeat of The Snow Clogs (coming to an emergency room nearest you).

Until next time,

Wimsey, a regular Manhattan dog who people take pictures of, newspapers write about and policemen feed their breakfasts to.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 54
February 15, 2008

Hello everyone, Westminster Wimsey here! I am now back on my couch on Manhattan’s Upper West Side recovering from my Excellent Westminster Adventure. And what an adventure it was. Last Sunday I was hustled through a final cavaletti practice in Riverside Park (I am getting quite good at pacing over these trotting poles if I do say so myself) and then received a double wash bath at the hands of my human Maria and her friend (and my current show handler) Elizabeth. Of course the fact that I was washed twice meant that I was fed double the usual amount of turkey to insure at least a modicum of compliance. It also necessitated that my humans fed themselves double the amount of cocktails in order to recover from the bath (as well as lots of towels and a change of clothing as they managed to get double washed too-- I believe in completely sharing the bath experience as we hounds are nothing if not generous).

And on Monday, much to my astonishment, Elizabeth, with whom I was enjoying a pre-Westminster sojourn (think cooked meals, naps on the futon and liver liver liver), rose at 6am. Now usually I have to wrinkle whip her at 7:30am to get any kind of matinal response out of her, so although something was clearly up at that hour it definitely wasn’t me. The idea of taking a pre dawn stroll in gusty 11 degree winds is of limited appeal even to a robust Hound like myself. The fact that I was curled up on Elizabeth’s bed atop her duvet had absolutely had nothing to do with it. But the weather made Elizabeth happy since for the first time this winter the arctic expedition wear she usually walks me in was actually appropriate. Now whilst Elizabeth fantasizes that climactic conditions in New York City resemble those of the South Pole my human Maria seems to believe that we are really wintering in southern California—her winter walking attire consist of a T-shirt, blue jeans and a light jacket (she frequently complains of being cold, and seems quite puzzled as to why—Elizabeth keeps offering items from her Arctic stash, but Maria generally takes one look at Elizabeth lumbering along like the Michelin Man and declines).

Anyway after a modest kibble, rice and turkey omelet we were off to Madison Square Garden in a chauffeured pet taxi with Elizabeth loaded up with our gear like a Sherpa heading for Everest. And what a fantastic experience Madison Square Garden was! There had been talk for weeks of “Wimsey on the bench” which I thought had a pleasingly judicial ring to it-- I always felt that I had a judicial temperament.

Second Circuit Court of Manhattan, The Honorable Justice Wimsey presiding

Lawyer: Your honor, this Hound is accused of stealing.

Judge Wimsey: And?

Lawyer: He stole his family’s entire Sunday dinner.

Judge Wimsey: Very enterprising. Not Guilty. Next.

Lawyer: This Hound is accused of disorderly conduct and creating a public nuisance.

Judge Wimsey: He’s a bloodhound. Not Guilty. Next

Lawyer: This Hound is accused of destroying public property—to wit a vast array of ornamental shrubbery in Central Park.

Judge Wimsey: Mayor Bloomberg can afford it. Not guilty. Next.

Lawyer: This human is accused of having a life.

Judge Wimsey: In all my dog years on the bench, seldom have I heard of a crime so heinous. The accused is sentenced to Life without Parole with a giant stinky Hound in a small Upper West Side apartment.

Well, being benched at Westminster is quite something—hundreds of people stop by to look at you and to admire and discuss you. And of course people who are attracted by your extreme good looks want to know what it is like to live with you. Now this is a subject upon which Maria can expound for many hours but boils down to this: “He stinks, he drools, he needs an insane amount of exercise and he doesn’t listen to a thing I say. If that sounds of interest to you here are the names of some good psychiatrists.” In politically correct parlance, I am a “special” dog.

And of course I was given frequent opportunities to walk around and stretch my legs which meant I was also afforded abundant opportunities to goose a transcontinental array of fannies. So many to choose from and so many new people who had yet to be introduced to the delightful sensation of shimmering gobs of wet drool landing in inconvenient places. And then of course there is the media. I gave several excellent interviews and the New York Daily News ran my picture and a story and the New York Post mentioned my blogging prowess. There were also two women from Columbia University TV (which was very exciting for Elizabeth as Columbia is one of her numerous alma maters --“those who can’t do, get degrees”) who interviewed me at great length about my credentials as a New York Dog (“Yes, Wimsey stalks squirrels by day and rats by night”).

And as for the show ring itself, what can one say? There we both stood, Elizabeth and I waiting to go on—Elizabeth in her Wimsey green clothes and me in my usual, elegant black and tan ensemble—when I started a preliminary vocal warm up preparatory to some serious ringside concertizing. Then out of nowhere came ASPCA volunteer co-coordinator Beverly (who Elizabeth had brought in to assist her --“If Wimsey takes off with me, throw yourself on top of him”) to shove a delightful stuffed lamb into my mouth! Well there are few things as enjoyable in life as having a stuffed lamb materialize out of the ether and into one’s mouth. This so distracted me that I forgot all about singing which saved considerable ear damage to those around me (like many fine opera singers I have a powerful instrument that does not admit of a restricted volume).

Now once we got into the ring I did actually trot and not pace (much) -- to the delight and astonishment of Maria who had been exiled to the nose bleed section in the hopes of improving my behavior (translation: Elizabeth is mean. Maria isn’t). Of course I did refuse to be stacked properly when the judge came to examine me, whereupon the judge commented in a rich Southern drawl redolent of bloodhounds, “Sometimes you just don’t have enough hands.” Personally I think it is just that I have too many feet—and none of them very cooperative. Anyway, even though I didn’t win anything, Elizabeth was ecstatic—when asked how I did she gushed “Brilliant! Wimsey didn’t take off with me, didn’t try to mount a bitch and didn’t bay!” This for me apparently constitutes a great success. Needless to say, much liver was forthcoming. Also ecstatic was Elizabeth’s friend, the always elegant Julie, who came barreling down from the stands to proclaim to Elizabeth “You look fabulous; so chic!” And Elizabeth was like “But we lost.” This seemed to puzzle Julie quite a bit—“But you looked fabulous! That’s such a great outfit! It was the nicest one.” (Note to self: explain to Julie purpose of a dog show).

Well after the judging festivities I was reunited with Maria (good behavior apparently no longer being necessary) and we all headed back to my bench for some serious Wimsey Worship. Elizabeth refused to take off her show clothes because it was such a novelty for her to be around me and not be dressed like a farmer (this complements Maria who favors looking more like a trucker). Not surprisingly people who know Elizabeth barely recognized her outside of her stinky jeans and baggy old sweaters (”Is it really you? Can we get a cheek swab to verify this? You never said you had a waist”). Allowing a bloodhound to dictate one’s fashion choices is not likely to land one on the pages of Women’s Wear Daily. And of course the ladies continually wonder why they spend Friday nights washing me instead of going out on dates. (“Wow that lady farmer with the bloodhound is hot! I love a woman in Wellington boots!” and “Yeah, but look at the other one! White Fruit of the Loom T-shirts rock!”). Nevertheless I am making a good start on decorating Elizabeth’s green suede show jacket with attractive patterns of white drool. I am hoping to create a bloodhound. Few Hounds can resist a blank canvas.

And as usual I was benched next to a beautiful female Hound (her name is Phoebe and she won an award of merit!) who seemed immune to my many charms and unimpressed with my melodious serenading. Lady Bloodhounds like ladies everywhere have an innate sense of their own superiority over the male which they like to demonstrate at every opportunity. It was all “Look at me and drool. Aren’t I beautiful?” and when you wax all enthusiastic, it’s all “OK, now get lost.” Perhaps I should sign up Maria and Elizabeth for lessons with Phoebe—after all she was perfectly groomed and looked neither like a farmer nor a trucker. And her people were fun too—when someone asked Maria what made her get into bloodhounds, they chimed in “Insanity.” Clearly these are people who are richly acquainted with the breed.

Well what more can I say—too bad it all had to end, but what an ending it was! A scent hound, Uno the beagle was Best in Show. Now Uno seems to bay in the ring and no one stuffs a lamb into his mouth, so I am thinking of essaying a few notes at my next show. Also Uno has a beautiful tenor voice quite complementary to my baritone so I think we should do a Two Hounds CD to provide fans with many hours of baying pleasure,

Anyway, it was quite a long day—my humans were in constant attendance on me until well after 8pm when dogs were finally allowed to go. And it was not until 10pm when Elizabeth finally got back to her apartment building. Upon arrival, she stuck the key into her mailbox and there was only one piece of mail. It was for me.

Well, now that we are back to our normal routine, it is time for another visit to The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art (when not in her show clothes, Elizabeth wore a T-shirt taken from the Institute's collection: “The Birth of Wimsey (and Venus)” Maria declined the honor preferring to look like a more elegant version of a trucker—her T shirt was black). Today we travel back to ancient times to examine a masterwork from the Egyptian Book of the Dead depicting a purification ritual from the tomb of Sennefer who was a mayor of Thebes. Clearly the purification liquid was extremely valuable and it makes no sense that there was no Hound shown in the act of stealing it. This is the first depiction in recorded history of Wimsey Bath Night.

Until next time,
Wimsey, Hound of Westminster

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 53
February 9, 2008

Hello everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you direct from Wimsey World Headquarters on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Well, what a whirlwind week it’s been as preparations for my appearance at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show on Monday proceed at a frenzied pace.

Last Saturday my human Maria and her friend (who is also serving as my handler) Elizabeth mounted an expedition to the wilds of southern New Jersey to a dog show at the Boardwalk Kennel Club. Now anyone who doesn’t think that stereotypes about New Yorkers are true has never met my humans. You would have thought that the ladies were mounting an expedition to southern Borneo instead of southern New Jersey. First they packed an entire supermarket’s worth of food and water (“I don’t think New Jersey has potable water, do you?” and “There might not be any food in New Jersey—we don’t want Wimsey to go hungry” and ‘Do you think we need to get shots?”). The trip began to sound like something that should have been financed by Ferdinand and Isabella (it’s a little known fact but New Yorkers believe that you fall off the edge of the earth when you leave the Island of Manhattan—except of course if you are going to LA).

King Ferdinand: So tell us Wimbus why do you want to mount an expedition to this New Jersey? Is there gold there?

Wimbus: No, but there are lots of chemical plants, does that count?

King Ferdinand: I don’t think so.

Queen Isabella: And are there many rich textiles to be found there?

Wimbus: Well, there is a mall at Short Hills that I hear is pretty good.

King Ferdinand: And are the natives friendly?

Wimbus: Well not the ones on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Queen Isabella: Are there wondrous exotic animals to be found?

Wimbus: I understand there are quite a few swamps (the natives refer to them as “wetlands”) which attract some interesting birds. Also there are some colorful species to be found in Atlantic City.

King Ferdinand: Well why would anyone want to go to New Jersey?

Wimbus: People in Manhattan ask that all the time.

Well, by the time we left, the Fairway bags were spilling out the back of the car-- and I mean this entire SUV (a generous loan from Maria’s friend Uncle Ray who like so many of my admirers loves me dearly just as long as he can do it from outside drool flinging range) was loaded for a single overnight trip—it was quite a spectacle. I was lucky there was still room for me (“if only we didn’t have Wimsey we would have so much more room.”) And my humans were lucky that they had me to conduct periodic forays to the front seat to make sure they hadn’t run out of gas or anything—I don’t know if they know that you can’t run an SUV on the contents of multiple Fairway bags. New Yorkers aren’t very good with cars.

Anyway, then we get to this hotel—The Marquis de Lafayette in Cape May across from the ocean—and check into a small two room suite which the ladies fill to the brim with all the gear they brought. And whilst I did enjoy walking around and smelling the sea air, let me tell you that being at a seaside resort in mid-winter is a lot like living in one of those post-apocalyptic movies—you know the ones where you joyfully shriek “Look! People!” when you see other human beings. Anyway, we all settled in for an evening of watching (what else) the Eukanuba Dog Show. And since Elizabeth had the arduous assignment of showing me she (and I) got the king sized bed whilst Maria spent a sleepless night on a sofa bed so bumpy even I wouldn’t get up on it.

Well the next morning we headed into Wildwood which is only 20 minutes away and pretty much of a straight shot on the highway. My humans were all “well it’s so simple we can’t possibly get lost!” They did. Forty-five minutes later we roll into the parking lot of the Wildwood Convention Center and we are on our way to the arena when we run into the Hound judge who just stares at me in my Halti (since prong collars are not permitted at shows, my humans think it is better to safe than sorry ((and in the Emergency Room)) and you just know that this judge is thinking: “Doesn’t that handler have any control over her Hound?” Well of course the answer to that is a resounding “No” but in the ladies’ defense it is not for want of trying, just a want of succeeding. (Maybe they should have invited the judge to take a turn around the Boardwalk with me while I am wearing the nylon string that serves as my show collar.) But at least the Halti is an honest admission of defeat—I saw several other shrieking humans being dragged to potty break exits behind large romping show collared dogs. However, as I was the only bloodhound I was awarded a ribbon anyway and we all headed back to the hotel for the few hours it took to pack everything all up again before returning for the judging of the Hound Group. (And needless to say, we got lost again—now this takes real talent. ((If they ever make a sequel to the TV show “Lost” it should be about Maria and Elizabeth in an automobile)). Anyway, once back at the arena, Elizabeth got all dressed up in her pretty Wimsey green show outfit and watched me take a 3-hour nap until the group judging. And who says showing isn’t exciting! (nap photo courtesy of Gina Ryan, North Star Collies, our new friend and show coach).

Now sadly I didn’t place in the group but apart from a bit of galloping (why trot when a gallop gets you to the liver faster) the ladies were ecstatic that I didn’t do anything actually disgraceful (it’s hard to do anything even remotely disgraceful when liver is being stuffed into one’s mouth. Of course where there is liver there is drool and I am proud to say that I soaked through Elizabeth’s matching green Ralph Lauren drool rag-- that Macy’s somehow markets as a washcloth). And of course I am sure the other handlers thoroughly enjoyed listening to the lively running dialog with which Elizabeth was attempting to entertain me—I expect at our next show they will hand her a Wimsey green gag. It was all pretty good fun but I did become rather fascinated with the elkhound behind me—that is certainly a rather strange looking Hound and one which I think bears further investigation (can I get my hair done like that?)—it’s on my Westminster “to do” list right up there with sliming folks in the benching area.

Well upon returning home (my humans having succeeded in finding the New Jersey Turnpike) I went to stay with Elizabeth so she could “work with me” (really feed me liver for reasons which are always unclear to me but seem to make sense to her). Now staying with Elizabeth is always an excellent gig (at least for me):

Life with Wimsey the Snoring Flatulent Dog (did I mention liver gives me gas):

7:30 am: Elizabeth still in bed. Give her a face full o’ Hound to remind her that the sun is up. Climb into bed with her to further emphasize the point.

8:00-9:30 am: Tow Elizabeth through Riverside Park. Attempt to dislocate her arm playing with off leash dogs. Resist all entreaties to poop; these things cannot be rushed.

9:30 am: Consume cooked breakfast.

9:35-noon: Nap on the futon. Snore loudly. Mount impressive display of flatulence. Keep an ear out for any activities that require my intervention and supervision, especially those that involve the refrigerator.

Noon- 12:30: Allow Elizabeth to use my bathtub providing I am there to closely supervise and make sure she is not eating turkey in the bath like I do.

12:30-1 pm: Afternoon run in the park.

1pm-1:30pm: Play satisfying game of Vacuum Cleaner (Elizabeth has this wonderful toy that she rolls back and forth in front of me so I can try and catch it).
1:30pm-2:30 pm: Nap on the futon (more s and f).

2:30pm-5:30pm: Work on the computer with Elizabeth. Read the papers with Elizabeth. Help Elizabeth with matters of personal hygiene. Organize the laundry and further assist Elizabeth with the housework (dust rags are almost as much fun as the vacuum cleaner).

5:30pm-7:30pm: Show training in Riverside Park. Manage to pace over at least some of the cavalettis—a feat heretofore deemed impossible.

7:30pm: Consume cooked dinner.

7:35pm-10pm: Watch television with Elizabeth (she likes to test her abilities to see through me.) Supervise Elizabeth’s dinner. Take another nap thereby enhancing the TV viewing experience with more snoring and flatulence.

10pm-11pm: Nightly walk—pee on all vertical surfaces on West End Avenue.

11: pm-7:30 am: Restful night of super loud motorcycle snoring accompanied by even more spectacular emissions of fragrant gas. (I do my best work at night).

Yes, it’s quite delightful to live with me. And of course Elizabeth always makes sure there many games in which I can earn valuable liver prizes (“OK, Wimsey. Do you want to know what you are playing for? Trot for 20 feet and a fabulous piece of the right lobe can be yours!” I think she watches too much daytime TV).

Anyway, the other delightful thing is that (at the risk of being accused of TMI) due to my recent anal gland problems my nether region has become somewhat irritated. So on the instructions of the vet Elizabeth must wash the area (think Hound bidet) and apply a soothing ointment twice daily. Well, this is fantastic, I can tell you! I love it. It is so relaxing—I sprawl out and thoroughly enjoy myself. I enter a higher plane of Hound consciousness during the procedure. It’s as close to an existential experience that a Hound can have. Plus it elevates human service to a whole new level. The tush ointment massage is right up there with the liver facial and the string cheese body wrap that I am planning to offer at the Wimsey Day Spa. It’s too bad I don’t get show points for having such a well groomed and oiled posterior.

Well, generally at this time we would pay a visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. However, as my schedule is a bit crowded this week we will have to postpone that pleasure until next week.

Will keep you posted on the continuing saga of My Excellent Westminster Adventure.

Until next time,

Wimsey, The Only Halti Wearing Show Dog

Friday, February 1, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 52
February 1, 2008

Hello Everyone. Wimsey here. Well, what can I say? I’ve been Newfed! Last Saturday on our way to show handling class in New Jersey (only the strongest possible incentive can induce my humans to leave the Island of Manhattan, and in that wholly foreign conveyance, an automobile, no less!) my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth and I stopped off for an all too brief visit with our blog buddies Nanook the Newfy and his lively adolescent brother Pooka ( I must admit that at first I was a bit apprehensive—the size of these guys alone is enough to give one pause, not to mention the fact that there are two of them—it was like being inspected by two mastodons or something-- and for those who have never actually seen me, no one has ever accused me of being petite myself (I weigh 125lbs). I had visions of becoming a bloodhound sandwich! But then these massive, majestic beasts indicated that perhaps a little game of chase might break the ice and off we went. It was all great fun, especially the part where I body slammed the charging Nanook to excellent effect (I knew immediately that it was to excellent effect because my humans yelled at me) but as Nanook had previously tried to hump my head I didn’t feel to badly about it (note to self: discuss basic biology with Nanook).

Anyway, these guys are non-stop fun and drop dead gorgeous. The only downside is that they are also incredibly well behaved, which caused my humans to cast a few jaundiced glances in my direction (“Why can’t Wimsey be more like a Newf?” and “Perhaps shaggy coat and obedient behavior are linked genes. Can we make Wimsey shaggy?”). No, really it has nothing to do with shaggy coats and everything to do with the fact that the Newfs’ owners don’t roll about laughing when they misbehave and even try to do something about it. For instance, like when I took a bite out of our hostesses’ sandwich--I bet the Nanook and the Pooka are firmly discouraged from such antics. But for me it was all (“Oh Wimsey. (sigh) Not again.”). And it was quite an excellent sandwich which means that the Newfs’ human Vanessa has the same outstanding taste in food as she does in canines.

Well the snack was very much appreciated as I needed all my energy for show dog class (and it is a well known fact that food tastes much better when it is stolen—nothing really worth having in life is easy to obtain). And I must say, the show dog class was fantastic! It was taught by a nice human named Gina Ryan (North Star Collies) and even though she is not yet a Houndite, I heartily recommend her for any type of training. Elizabeth was given multiple stern lectures about how she had to make everything fun for me and how my happiness was paramount to show ring success. For instance Gina observed that Elizabeth was merely carrying liver and chicken and it was all “Perhaps Wimsey would like some London Broil?” (Yes, in fact Wimsey would like some London Broil). And “You must play with Wimsey more! Entertain him! Don’t let him get bored!” So I am asking myself, “Can this woman come live with us???” Clearly she immediately took on board the Wimsey-Centric view of life that I have been trying so hard to inculcate in my humans. No matter how many experts my humans consult, they always receive the same disappointing (for them) answer:

Maria and Elizabeth: Namaste great guru, Maharishi Mahesh Houndi. Can you tell us what is the secret of life?
Guru: It is all about Wimsey. (and eating lots of green vegetables).

Maria and Elizabeth: Guten Tag Herr Philosophisch Professor Wittgenhound. Can you tell us the meaning of life?
Professor Witttgenhound: Logically speaking, that is a complicated question, but the simple answer is that it is all about Wimsey.

Maria and Elizabeth
: Good morning Professor Houndstein. Can you tell us something about the composition of life?
Professor Houndstein: Relatively speaking that is a difficult question although objectively it is not. The Universe is composed of strong forces and weak forces. But the most important force is Wimsey.

And of course all the dogs in the class were beautiful and better behaved than I was which only means that my humans will have to work even harder to make it fun for me (or I will make it fun for them in ways they might not necessarily appreciate-- see entry # 16: Xtreme Show Handling).

Anyway, when it was all over, I did a bit of singing to entertain the class (and also to encourage Elizabeth to fork over the plastic water bottle she was holding) and then we all piled back into the rented car, turned on the GPS and headed back to Wimsey Island (this has a much better ring to it than Manhattan Island, don’t you think). Now this GPS thing is quite interesting—it is supposed to tell you where to go so you don’t get lost, but in spite of the fact that Elizabeth has absolutely no sense of direction and always gets lost, she refused to obey it (I wonder if she has any Hound blood). Not only that, but she talks back to it—including explaining to it at great length why it was preferable to take the Lincoln Tunnel rather than the George Washington Bridge. It didn’t seem to care. Now I may not be the brightest Hound (although I am quite clever, which is a different thing entirely), but at least I know better than to talk back to inanimate objects. However as useless as the GPS proved for her, I still think it has great potential:

Hound Positioning System (HPS)

HPS: In 3 feet turn left. Turn left. There is an unattended piece of chicken on the counter.

Hound: Excellent advice.

HPS: Recalculating. Go straight. In 0.0001 mile turn right. Turn right. Some idiot left the toilet seat up.

Hound: An excellent way to wash down the chicken!

HPS: Recalculating: Turn right. Turn right! There is a dirty brassiere hanging on a door knob 160 degrees behind you. Shred.

Hound: What marvelous directions!

GPS: Recalculating. Go straight. Go straight. In 20 feet, turn right. Turn right. In 5 feet go left. Go left. Ascend 1.3 feet. A lap has opened up. Crush human. Crush human. Crush human.

I think I could sell a lot of these devices! Anyway, preparations for this weekend’s outing to Cape May and my showing in Wildwood are in full swing. Elizabeth has a two page, color coded list of the things that I require for my maximum comfort and I am to be bathed yet again tonight---the ladies are testing some new finishing spray which is supposed to make me super shiny (it’s bad enough that they are using a chamois to shine me—what’s next, Turtle Wax?). Nevertheless, Maria is afraid the hotel will take one look at me and refuse to house us, but Elizabeth says that if she can keep a straight face she will just assure the front desk that I am a show dog and very well behaved. I’d pay good money to hear that! But I must say I am looking forward to peeing on sand.

The other good news this week is that my anal glands have been proclaimed much improved which means that I will no longer be carted to the vet’s on Sundays for the canine equivalent of a high colonic. I am already feeling purged and more spiritually pure. (If humans had anal glands, I am sure expressing them would constitute a costly spa treatment). And on that note, it is time for our weekly pilgrimage to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art.

Today we return to the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York to look at the work of society portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence:

Elizabeth Farren (Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1790, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York). Since we are so preoccupied these days with the success that beauty can bring, we have no better subject than Elizabeth (great first name) Farren, an Irish actress who later traded up big time and became the Countess of Derby. Kind of like “Sex and the City” goes Georgian. (I bet the relatives were thrilled and I suspect that the Earl, whose second wife she was, was short, fat and bald). Anyway, in this portrait Ms. Farren is looking at us and carelessly ignoring the fact that she is dangling quite an alluring piece of fur. How much more sense the painting makes if her carelessness has attracted the attentions of a fur loving Hound. Wimsey Farren.

Well just as reminder for those of you who might be available, I will be at Madison Square Garden on February 11th. My humans would love to see you, but be aware that Maria will not be at the bench with me until after my class (1:15pm Ring 6). She is voluntarily absenting herself in the hopes of improving my behavior (as if). But Elizabeth and crack ASPCA dog trainer Beverly will be happy to call her for you and arrange for a chat out of scent range of my powerful nose (New Jersey, perhaps?). And of course after my class Maria will be velcroed to me as usual.

So until next time when we resume

The Fabulous Adventures of Wimsey (or is it The Adventures of the Fabulous Wimsey?)