Friday, October 31, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry #91
October 31, 2008

Hello everyone, it’s me Wimsey coming to you from the spooky and mysterious Upper West Side of Manhattan—a place so frightening that you never know when you will be suddenly ambushed by a giant Hound who is flinging ectoplasm and emitting an unearthly sound from his savagely pursed lips. Now there was some talk of dressing me up, but this was quickly squelched—by me. And my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth did think it would be fun to go trick or treating with me but then rethought this when they realized that Halloween is not actually supposed to be that frightening—and I might bring a whole new meaning to the word “trick” even after being placated with a treat. Also they were worried that I would take the treat part very much to heart and steal people’s entire stash. But this won’t stop my humans from dressing up as a pair of farm workers who have been captured and enslaved by a large wrinkly mammal possessed of mystical powers that enable him to get whatever he wants whenever he wants. And of course any treats they receive will automatically become my property as private property in the hands of others is a vastly overrated concept and remains an impermissible construct in the Wimsey household. But Halloween here in Manhattan is always a fun time with humans roaming the streets in outlandish costumes--all apparently specifically designed for Hounds to play tug of war with. And small humans carry bags of interesting stuff at precisely nose level-- and by all the racket they make I know they are quite delighted by my olfactory investigations.

But if I were to dress up, here are some good ideas:

Pirate: This is perhaps the most appropriate costume of all for a Hound. I feel a great affinity with pirates. We both take what does not belong to us and enjoy ourselves heartily in the process. Also I think my bay sounds a little bit like an Arggh. (and I think I would enjoy a parrot).

Ghost: Now on the surface this seems like an unlikely costume for a giant smelly Hound,however, all humans are familiar with the eerie quiet that occurs during our clandestine operations. Suddenly we are invisible. It’s all: “Say, where is the Hound, I haven’t seen or heard him in a while.” followed by “Oh no! He’s eaten the living room!”

Batman: Now just like Batman, the Hound fights against a cabal of evil enemies: there is The Television: a fiendish villain who causes humans to stare mindlessly ahead and loose all interest in their Hounds. This villain also has a little brother, The Computer who has a similarly fiendish effect. Then of course there is The Friend: a self described “non-dog person” who kidnaps unsuspecting humans and plants seditious ideas in their heads such as :“Don’t you think you harbor an unhealthy obsession for your Hound?” and “Perhaps you need a visit from Cesar Millan.”

The Prince: Another very appropriate costume which requires minimal imagination on the part of the onlooker. In fact, this is not really a costume at all but a reflection of reality.

The Incredible Hulk: This is another great Hound costume as Hounds are in fact naturally incredible hulks. But we Hounds get even larger (think hackles, upright tail and head) when we get emotional about something we want (like that pizza you thought you were going to eat).

Cowboy: The cowboy is a wonderful Hound costume. The cowboy gets on his horse and chases cattle. He is strong, independent and untamed. The Hound puts on his leash and chases squirrels. He is strong, independent and untamed.

Indiana Jones: Now just like Indiana Jones we Hounds go in search of exotic treasure—“Indiana Hound and the Temple of the Refrigerator.”

Angel: This is a fantasy costume that never ceases to bring a chuckle to all those who live with Hounds.

Devil: One of my very favorite costumes as I tempt my humans into activities not in their own best interest (“Let’s have a walk in the park. I won’t dislocate your shoulder, shatter your eardrums or make people mad by flinging drool on them. I promise.”)

Well Halloween aside, it’s been a pretty enjoyable week here. The weather has been cool, the leaves have been abundant and I have embarked on a new career. It turns out that Elizabeth is setting up a new business and I (and Maria, although I’m not sure why she was asked) have been called in to assist. The first order of business was to choose a name and to design a website. I thought the business should be called “Wimsey” and the website done in that always elegant combination of black and tan tinged with red, but this was promptly vetoed.

Nevertheless I spent a lot of time over at Elizabeth’s this week in my supervisory mode, which consists of standing on someone’s thighs and inspecting the computer screen. I also changed the company logo slightly by inserting some hair into the printer, so all documents contain a tasteful arrangement of Hound hair. Elizabeth was about to call in the printer repairman before she realized what she was looking at wasn’t ink. And then I think that my uncanny ability to rapidly distribute Hound smell throughout her apartment caused an invigorating improvement in productivity. I like to think that all this productivity is due to Hound aromatherapy, but Maria says it’s because Elizabeth has to open all the windows. Now Elizabeth did purchase a reed diffuser with golden orchid scent which I did examine to determine why it was so ineffective (“Who pushed the reeds towards the back of the bookcase!”). But it is clear that I am the most powerful reed diffuser ever created, only I don’t dispense golden orchid.

Anyway, I do like to hang around while the ladies work—banging my dish of kibble in an attempt to encourage the addition of something more savory, drooling on the desk, pushing the keyboard return out from under their fingers, climbing on them, engaging in loud ear flapping, investigating Elizabeth’s possessions, exploring her closets, etc.—so much so that Elizabeth was finally forced to disgorge the large Wimsey Bath Night bully stick in an attempt to keep me occupied. This was only temporary however and soon it was all “Wimsey’s drooling on the mail merge.” I like to think I turned it into a Wimsey merge. But Elizabeth always requests my presence for work activities. And people wonder why I think humans are feeble minded. Anyway, all of this puts me in mind of starting another career:

Wimsey, The Smelly Office Assistant

Wimsey: This is Wimsey. How many I not help you.

Boss: Please make me 100 copies of this document.

Wimsey: I am too busy not doing my nails. Don’t they look beautiful—so long and talon like-- ideally suited to shredding fabric and making attractive grooves on people’s skin. They’ve never been cut you know. Many have tried, none have succeeded. Of course that also applies to training me and pretty much anything else humans want to do to me.

Boss: Please. I’ll give you a belly rub.

Wimsey: OK. I’ll be just a second. In fact I do enjoy nosing the buttons on the copy machine.

Boss: What is this big pile of shredded paper?!

Wimsey: They’re your copies. You didn’t say they had to be intact. Anyway, now you won’t need a shredder. I’m very cost effective.

Boss: Well can you at least look up this address on the computer. And try not to hack into the Pentagon’s computer this time. They were very annoyed last itme.

Wimsey: I don’t know, I thought the plans for the next generation Stealth Fighter were pretty cool. Perhaps they were annoyed because I changed its name from the Blackbird to the Bloodhound.

Boss: Stop that baying! We had Security up here last week!

Wimsey: I’m bored. Give me something to do. Or perhaps I’ll just drink the water cooler again.

Boss: No don’t do that. They’re still trying to get the yellow out of the carpet. I was going to give you some filing but I don’t think document handling is your strong suit. Why don’t you get me a Danish and coffee?

Wimsey: OK.

Boss: Why is the coffee all foamy? And where’s my Danish.

Wimsey: The coffee was too strong so I diluted it. The Danish was delicious—I thought it had too many calories for your waistline. If you walk me for a few hours I’ll let you have one.

Boss: Not now. It’s time for my 10 o’clock appointment. Please show them into the conference room. And be polite—no shoving them in the bum with your nose.

Wimsey: Alright. I promise not to poke them in the tush.

Guest: Your assistant poked me in the crotch!? You didn’t warn me that I needed to wear a cup to the meeting.

Boss: He promised not to shove you in the rear end like last time. But isn’t he cute?

Guest: Well he did seem very pleased to see me—he put his paws on my shoulder, bayed in my face and then drooled on me.

Boss: He can be enthusiastic employee when he is in the mood. Perhaps we can discuss business while we walk him—he promised me a Danish afterwards.

OK, well this is the Friday before the big election so this will be the last of the Great Moments in American History segment. Next week the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art will return with our usual Hound improved art. And what could be more appropriate for this week’s Great Moment than what happened during the1948 election? George Gallup the famous pollster was so convinced that Thomas Dewey would beat Truman that the newspapers pre-printed the now famously erroneous “Dewey Beats Truman” headline. But there was also an independent candidate running, my ancestor William Jennings Wimsey and at least one newspaper thought he would win. Of course today polls are much more sophisticated and are generally correct, which does take some of the fun out of it. So to whomever wins, congratulations and I have some important advice: acquire a Hound, listen to the Hound, follow the example of the Hound in all things (except perhaps marking the lawn) and rub his belly frequently. You’ll live longer, be happier and when Congress and world leaders hate you, he won’t. He’ll just want to know what you can do for him today. As usual.

Until next time,

Wimsey, Ask not what your Hound can do for you but what you can do for your Hound.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 90
October 24, 2008

Hello everyone, Wimsey the Über Hound here (Über Hounds are just like regular Hounds only much, much worse) coming to you from the nippy and zippy Upper West Side of Manhattan. We are having a bit of chilly weather (frisky!) which has sent my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth scurrying for the LL Bean outerwear catalog. They read LL Bean like most women read Vogue—it’s the kind of thing that happens to you when you have to spend a good part of your waking hours tramping around outdoors over the 800 acres of Central Park with a vigorous outdoorsman such as myself. Of course I am a vigorous indoorsman too which is why I suspect we spend so much time outdoors. Consequently this week Elizabeth visited that New York temple of high fashion, Paragon Sports, to explore replacing one of her many Hound jackets. She came back brimming with new fashion ideas, including some thoughts on a new winter chapeau—she is determined (in spite of much snickering on the part of Maria) to buy a trapper hat. I am excited about the prospect of the trapper hat as I think it would look a lot better in my mouth (or anywhere else for that matter) than on Elizabeth’s head. And she also managed to purchase a new pair of extra capacious jeans in order to accommodate her elegant (LL Bean) long underwear that she wears for cold weather Hounding activities. Maria, however, pronounced the jeans less than flattering to the tush. Now her opinion would have carried a lot more weight had she not been wearing a man’s Hanes tee shirt and baggy jeans at the time. But Elizabeth says not to worry, the rest of her clothes are so big that her tush is never visible anyway. I don’t know, personally I find badly dressed smelly women quite alluring but it might be an acquired taste. Perhaps the ladies could use some fashion help.

What Not to Wear Hound Edition

Stacy London: Today we are in New York City to create a whole new wardrobe for Maria and Elizabeth, two women who claim to be making poor fashion choices because of a Hound. Who put the Hound in charge anyway?

Clinton Kelly: He claims to rule by Divine Right. But he was kind enough to nominate them for a fashion makeover.

Stacy London: Let’s look at the secret footage. We have been secretly filming them for two weeks.

Clinton Kelly: Here are Maria and Elizabeth being dragged by Wimsey through Central Park.

Stacy London: Look at those unflattering jeans! And those large warm waterproof jackets with hoods! And those supportive flat shoes. They look so comfortable—like one could walk for miles in them! Hideous.

Clinton Kelly: And here are Maria and Elizabeth being dragged by Wimsey through Riverside Park.

Stacy London: But they’re wearing the same clothes! How could that happen!

Clinton Kelly: And now we see Maria and Elizabeth being dragged by Wimsey down Columbus Avenue.

Stacy London: The same clothes again! Quick catch me I’m going to faint!

Clinton Kelly: Well to be fair, I only think they look like the same clothes. It’s hard to tell. But they do seem to have a very defined sense of style. It certainly makes a statement.

Stacy London: Yes. They say “Wimsey.” But let’s look at all their current wardrobe. Hmm. What are these funny stains?

Clinton Kelly: I wouldn’t enquire too closely about those.

Stacy London: And all these holes! Let’s trash it all!

Clinton Kelly: I think Wimsey already took care of that part.

Stacy London: OK, let’s go shopping! Does that Hound have to come with us too?

Clinton Kelly: Of course. Wimsey supervises all aspects of his human’s lives.

Stacy London: First the shoes. Who were they wearing before?

Clinton Kelly: New Balance and Doc Marten.

Stacy London: I’ve never heard of those designers are they new? Here—look at these lovely Manolo stilettos!

Clinton Kelly: Wimsey likes those—but he thinks the heels are too high so he is converting them into flats.

Maria: But what happens to those shoes in the rain?

Stacy London: Rain? What rain? Who walks around outside when it’s raining. In fact who walks around in general. That’s what cabs are for. But speaking of not walking in the rain but being fashionably dressed for it anyway, let’s look at this lovely little trench. Such a nice ivory color, so flattering on the skin, so form fitting on the body.

Elizabeth: But can I bend down in it?

Stacy London: Why on earth would you want to bend down! That creates such an unflattering shape! And where did these brown stains come from—I don’t remember seeing those before!

Clinton Kelly: I wouldn’t inquire too closely about those stains either. Moving on, let’s try this lovely short pencil skirt.

Maria: Wimsey likes pencils. But can I trot in it?

Clinton Kelly: Trot? Why would you need to trot? The whole point of the skirt is to keep your legs together and give you a longer, leaner and curvier shape. And why is that dog’s nose under the skirt! He’ll rip it.

Maria: He’s investigating the construction. Also he’s never seen one of these before. He appreciates the air flow.

Stacy London: I think we need to introduce you to a different store—Paragon Sports! I hear they are having a sale on trapper hats.

Maria: OK, but can Nick Arrojo trim Wimsey’s whiskers?

Well fashion aside it has been a glorious week here in New York. Last Friday was Wimsey Bath Night which went off with its usual success and in addition to consuming copious quantities of bribing turkey followed by a cooked meal; I managed to snare some pizza. (“Wimsey’s just had a big meal—how much can he eat?”) (silly question--: “He’s a Hound! How much food is there?”). Now during the pizza eating and cocktail drinking the ladies were watching a new show about the Iditarod in honor of my friend Gus the Bloodhound of Alaska, which makes me think there should be an Iditarod for Hounds:

Hound Iditarod

Greg Heister: Hello Everyone. We are here for the opening of the Hound Iditarod.

Joe Runyan: Hey Greg, I notice the fans are keeping well back from the starting point.

Greg Heister: It’s the noise, the stench and the drool, Joe. Few people want to risk shattered ear drums and wet and stinky clothing. The say you can never really expunge the drool and the stink you know.

Joe Runyan: Well, it should be quite an exciting and arduous race. As you know Greg the regular Ididarod is 1150 miles but the Hound Iditarod, which some consider much more grueling is only 25 miles—and it could take weeks to complete!

Greg: That’s right Joe—getting a team of 12 Hounds to cover the course is very time consuming--- these animals never seem to want to go in the same direction. Last year one team ended up back at the starting line five times!

Joe: Isn’t it the musher’s job though to guide them?

Greg: Well ordinarily yes, but these are Hounds we are talking about and as we know they are genetically programmed not to take directions from humans. It’s due to a mutation on chromosome 4. Or so they say. And there are 12 of them to contend with!

Joe: I can’t imagine who would want to take on such a task. But 25 miles doesn’t seem that bad.

Greg: It takes a certain kind of idiot to want to run this race, that’s for sure. But then some people think that Hound owners are idiots—they are renowned for their fierce optimism (“Wimsey, come!) in the face of overwhelming odds where their Hounds are concerned. But 25 miles is in fact arduous when you consider that not only do the Hounds want to go in different directions but they also must extensively sniff the entire route—sometimes devoting an hour or more to a small patch of ground—also they take frequent breaks to mark all vertical surfaces, they chase animals, dig, stop to engage in vigorous ear flapping and practice choral singing And then of course there are the checkpoint activities that can leave the Hounds and their mushers exhausted.

Joe: What happens at the checkpoint Greg?

Greg: Well first of course the Hounds must eat. Then they must steal everyone else’s food—mushers have to be quick in this race to survive. Then the Hounds expend costly calories in drool flinging—fortunately Hound Goo is so viscous it doesn’t freeze. Then of course they like to greet checkpoint workers by knocking them all down, performing victory dances on their stomachs and drooling in their faces. And then too the Hounds are apt to get distracted by digging holes in the snow and chasing each other around. Following which they then collapse in a loud, snoring mass. Did you know that Bose noise canceling headphones are required pieces of equipment on this race? All in all the checkpoints are lively scenes and it can take considerable time and energy to get the Hounds up and going again, particularly if they are not in the mood. And sometimes it takes all day just to get them back in harness--they like to chew their harnesses and take off while the others are being hitched up?

Joe: Wow. I had no idea.

Greg: Few people do. That’s why they acquire Hounds.

Well anyway, on Sunday I got an opportunity to undo all the good work of Wimsey Bath Night during another arduous trek through Central Park’s North Woods. In addition to rolling about in delightfully filthy leaves and getting myself covered in a wide assortment of seeds (I am the Wimsey Appleseed of the North Woods) I discovered a most interesting structure—The Block House! The Block House is a small fort and is the oldest structure in Central Park. During the War of 1812 (the second Napoleonic War to the rest of the world) New Yorkers built fortifications on the southern tip of Manhattan believing that the British would attack the harbor. However, when the British attacked Stonington Connecticut instead, a panic filled the city as people realized that the attack could come from the undefended north. Under the guidance of General Joseph Swift citizens of all degrees raced to help build this fort to defend the northern reaches of the city. According to historian Edward Hall they encompassed “every conceivable class of men: the Society of Tammany, the students of Columbia College, medical students, the Marine Society, the Society of Tallow Chandlers, butchers, members of the bar, Free Masons, firemen, Sons of Erin, colored citizens..” A true New York moment. But of course Hall neglected to include my ancestor Palladio Wimsey who is credited with the clean, simple design of the Fort. Unfortunately we do not have a painting of the event for The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art’s collection, so you will have to make do with pictures of me at the Fort and imagine Palladio Wimsey inspecting the work of his men. When the work was finally completed in 1814 Palladio himself christened the building in the manner customary with male Hounds of the Wimsey family.

The other exciting news this week is that Elizabeth is having allergy testing—she thinks it would be fitting if I am the source of her sinus trouble. However as my ancestor Hippocrates Wimsey (First, do some harm) used to say, all human ailments can be traced back to insufficient time spent scratching, feeding and being dragged about by a Hound. I have written her a prescription.

Well that’s pretty much all I have time for this week between the large number of my indoor and outdoor activities (the ladies frequently debate whether it is better to have one’s shoulder dislocated on the street or one’s bones broken on the couch) but never fear, I will have more to say next week. We Hounds are never silent.

Until next time,

Wimsey, Fashion Hound

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 89
October 17, 2008

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from Houndistan on Hudson, otherwise known as Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Well after a brief bit of Indian summer the leaves are finally beginning to assume their customary autumnal palette and my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are all about leaf peeping. I myself am all about leaf peeing which is an entirely different matter and much more enjoyable. And as we know the autumn weather inculcates in me an incredibly frisky attitude which inculcates in my humans an incredibly injured attitude. And where Hound injuries exist can Sir Isaac Newton, who is ultimately responsible for them, be far behind? In fact, I have recently uncovered a new translation of Newton’s famous three laws compiled by my ancestor Euclid Wimsey:

Newton’s First Law: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Translation of Newton’s First Law: When in a park a Hound tends to remain in a park unless dragged out baying furiously by several strong humans.

Newton’s Second Law: The relationship between an object's mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors and the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.

Translation of Newton’s Second Law: Holding onto the leash of a large Hound on a loose leash in the presence of a squirrel will result in a traumatic injury to the shoulder whose dislocation will occur in the same direction as that of the retreating squirrel.

Newton’s Third Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Translation of Newton’s Third Law: What ever you want your Hound to do, he will do the opposite.

Now I have been applying Newton’s Laws since I was a mere pup (OK, not really “mere” since there is nothing really unsubstantial about a Hound at any age) and have done many interesting physics experiments (usually to the detriment of my humans). And consequently my humans are often forced to employ creative counter measures worthy of Hulk Hogan in their defense. Now just this week an old friend of Maria’s dropped by for a chat. The chap in question happened to be wearing a suit (he hadn’t seen me since I was a puppy, otherwise he would have known better) and Maria was doing her level (and horizontal) best to keep my inquisitive nose and its attendant drool away from the fine Italian wool with which he was caparisoned. Unfortunately at some point this necessitated putting me in headlock. T his occurred around about the time the guest inquired whether Maria was dating anyone. When she replied in the negative, he wanted to know why not. Now Maria gets asked this question quite a bit but I have to say seldom whilst in the act of restraining me in a headlock. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on the perspicacity of Maria’s friends, but it would seem to me that, no matter how attractive, a woman is, if she needs to be forcibly restraining her large, smelly Hound in a headlock in order to engage in polite conversation, the answer would appear to be entirely self explanatory. I doubt even Gisele Bundchen with a head locked Hound would be a very datable entity. And it’s not that I don’t try to introduce the ladies to as many men as possible—I pride myself on being an excellent wing man—but somehow when push comes to shove (quite literally) the guys generally go for women who harbor mammals of less gargantuan proportions. Well anyway, as Newton has nothing to say on the subject of evading headlocks the nicely dressed guest remained in pristine condition. But not to worry, I plan on getting him next time (assuming he is brave enough to essay another visit).

Well headlocks excepted, it has been quite a nice week here. Now last week I was blessed at the feast of St. Francis up at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and it was such a lot of fun that on this Sunday’s Central Park tow I dragged my humans due north hoping to repeat the experience. My humans were extremely pleased at this new spiritual attitude (”Perhaps Wimsey will learn that it is better to give than to receive. Or maybe to just let us sit on a piece of the couch.”) but really I was thinking of all those smelly farm animals that they had on display at the ceremony. In any case we did not return to the cathedral (the Bishop is still probably trying to get the stain out of his cassock) but we did walk around a body of water known as the Harlem Meer. I observed a large flock of geese lounging on the water and before we passed Elizabeth was all “If Wimsey drags me into the water after the geese, don’t worry about me, just get it on video.” Now although dragging Elizabeth into the Harlem Meer in pursuit of the geese struck me as an excellent idea, the thought of providing yet another photo opportunity for my camera crazed humans left me cold. They are like my personal paparazzi and everywhere I go there is a camera stuck in my face. Generally I like to present my posterior on these occasions (“Wimsey is mooning the camera again” and “I don’t think Hounds moon; I think they tail”). Needless to say, the ladies have quite a collection of digitized views of the Wimsey butt. Alternatively I like to turn my face away from the camera. All of which means that the ladies frequently resort to teasing me with cookies to get my attention (then of course they get a fine collection of photos in which drool plays a prominent role, which they consider highly unaesthetic). Well having survived the potential Great Goose debacle, we were all peacefully hanging out at the adjacent Conservatory Garden (to which surprisingly dogs are allowed, although if I spend much time there this may change), when yet again the camera appeared. Below is what I think of it all. And bellow that is a magnificent close up of the inside of my mouth (even better than my tush!) as I grabbed the biscuit that was being quite irresponsibly brandished in front of my nose.

But mercifully this evening will be camera free as another episode of Wimsey Bath Night is firmly on the agenda (it having been deemed too risky to photograph me during these complicated ablutions). And as usual Elizabeth has stocked up on the cachaca for the making of post bath caipirinhas. Now caipirinhas are the national drink of Brazil but it is also the national drink of Wimsey—particularly on Bath Night where it is known as the Wimsey Bath Night Recovery Cocktail. After washing me the ladies are badly in need of a potent restorative as they emerge from the bathroom wet, sweaty and with bits of spiky Hound hair and errant pieces of bribing turkey clinging to their persons (no one asks them then how come they aren’t dating anyone). But their condition is nothing compared to the state to which Wimsey Bath Night reduces the bathroom—mounds of drenched hair encrusted towels (I don’t permit hair dryers), a flooded floor, a clogged bath tub and walls and ceiling alike decorated with a tasteful selection of Wimsey hair. All of which I leave for them to deal with whilst I serenely consume my cooked dinner and enjoy a leisurely chew on my bully stick. The caipirinha really should be renamed the Wimseyrinha.

Well it is time for another visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art and as has been our custom during this election season we are reviewing Great Moments in American History. Now no discussion of American History would be complete without a look at the tragedy of the Civil War. It was North Against South, brother against brother. And my family was no exception. Beauregard Wimsey, a Hound of Virginia squared off against his littermate Augustus van der Wimsey of New York (Augustus added the van der to the Wimsey name as he believed it better reflected his status as a New York City plutocrat). Now these brothers fought many battles, most notably at Little Round Top on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and Beauregard became an adjutant to General Lee and Augustus served General Grant. Both were in charge of procuring provisions for their armies as it was believed that Hounds excelled at this task. Although the locals called it stealing the brothers considered that they were simple utilizing the gifts with which nature so richly endowed them in the service of their respective countries. But on April 3rd 1865 General Grant rapidly took Richmond (thus leading to the expression that a Hound can swipe your panties out of the laundry bin faster than Grant took Richmond) and on April 9th Lee surrendered: Surrender at Appomattox (Thomas Nast, 1895, Galena History Museum, Galena, Illinois). Grant, who hadn’t been expecting the surrender so quickly, was actually dressed in the uniform of a private with just his shoulder stripes to denote his rank while Lee was as usual the epitome of the gallant southern gentleman. The two men knew each other from the Mexican War and were chatting up a convivial storm when Beauregard and Augustus were forced to administer stern pokes in their fannies to return the generals to the subject at hand. And once peace was restored to the country the brothers too buried the hatchet (or bones in this case) and resumed their former amicable relations--although at the request of both generals the brothers continued to supply hard to find delicacies for their tables. No questions asked.

Well I think that I shall have to close now. But before I do I want to recommend two items indispensable to Houndly grooming (and not the kind I usually do with my tongue on my underside that my humans seem to find so yuck-worthy): The Zoom Groom (less than $10 at Petsmart) when rubbed vigorously back and forth across a dense short coat such as my own produces a great massage for me while producing copious amounts of flying fur for my humans. And for a (temporary) cessation of Houndly stink, The Grimeinator Shampoo which can be found at Cherrybrook , and which produces an irresistible urge on the part of my humans to snort and stroke my fur-- which is at least some compensation for the (temporary) destruction of my usual intoxicating aroma.

Until next time,

Wimsey, the (temporarily) clean

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 88
October 10, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you from the gloriously autumnal precincts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. And apart from the fact that the world’s economy is falling apart, (could Hounds have done any worse a job at running Wall Street I wonder?) it’s been a great week here. First, as many of you know, last Saturday was the feast of St. Francis and my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth took me on Sunday to the cathedral of St. John the Divine to be blessed at their outdoor blessing ceremony. They then planned to take me into a local church for an actual service under the thesis that I can’t have too many blessings (“Wimsey needs all the help he can get.”).

Well Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day and we all walked up to the Cathedral through the northern part of Central Park (well the ladies walked, I charged about as I always have an attack of excessive friskiness in this relatively unfamiliar section of the park—this friskiness precipitated some talk of the premature application of the Halti, which they had not been planning to use until the ceremony itself). Now part of the day’s festivities included an animal fair in the cathedral close and I became exceedingly fascinated with an exhibit of farm animals-- those being in rather short supply on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. But it was felt that I was developing an unhealthy interest in this donkey and I was consequently removed from the farm animal area; this turned out to be just fine as I then managed to ambush Bishop Sisk, the Episcopal Bishop of New York as he was exiting the rear of the cathedral—probably in hopes of avoiding an ambush by a large drooly Hound such as myself. It was thought safe for me to meet Bishop Sisk as he appeared to be a sturdy chap and unlikely to topple easily.

Below you see a picture of me conferring with the Bishop on important ecclesiastical matters such as the ordination of Hounds and the like. I was also quite taken with the striking color of his cassock and although Maria and Elizabeth believed that they had prevented me from sliming it, I did manage to leave just a small token of our meeting for the Bishop to remember me by. Well after this we toured the rest of the animal fair where it was further felt that I was becoming too interested in the Birds of Prey exhibit and was once again removed before I could fully satisfy my scientific curiosity on the subject. To be fair I do take an active interest in wildlife and am always seeking to expand the breadth of my experience, but I do feel that sometimes my purely academic interests are misinterpreted by my humans.

Anyway, what with touring the fair and conferring with the bishop and the priests being on a lunch break, it actually took quite some time before the blessing occurred. And while waiting I began to get somewhat bored as we active Hounds are wont to do and fell back on my usual pastime in these situations—I sang. At high volume. Continuously. Of course this attracted groups of onlookers who listened with great interest and appreciation. I look at it this way, some people fidget when bored, some people drum their fingers, some people whistle. Me, I bay. This creates a paradoxical situation in which people gather around to discuss all the noise with my humans but no one can actually hear anything above the racket.

Well finally it was time for my blessing and if truth be told I was a bit squirmy—I tried to think spiritual thoughts but visions of angels kept getting crowded out by visions of donkeys. Then after my less than saintly performance at the cathedral it was determined that perhaps it would not be the best idea to take me into an actual church (This was somewhat disappointing as I have always wanted to do a solo backed by a full choir) and so we all headed instead for a delightful walk in Riverside Park—well delightful for me as I had some suppressed energy to unleash as well you can imagine. When I finally arrived home-- a mere four hours after first setting out—I ate a large bowl of kibble and turkey (do turkeys count as birds of prey?), immersed my muzzle in a bowl of cool water and climbed onto Maria’s bed for a well deserved, drool and snore filled nap (at first Maria thought perhaps construction was being done next door). I am truly blessed. (Too bad the same can’t be said for my humans!)

Now it should come as no surprise that when I walk about on the Island of Manhattan, let alone attend animal fairs, etc., I attract quite a lot of attention—especially when I am in fine voice. And of course many of the people who clap eyes on me think that they too would like to share their lives with a magnificent Hound such as myself-- little realizing that sharing doesn’t come into it at all—we bloodhounds will take it all—your time, money, possessions, food and anything else we fancy. And even humans who have lived with other types of hounds experience shock and awe at how different it is to live with a bloodhound. There is nothing to really prepare one, so anyone even remotely contemplating life with a bloodhound should be introduced to the Kingdom of Houndistan.

Wimsey’s Kingdom of Houndistan

Government: Houndistan is an absolute monarchy ruled by an occasionally benevolent despot known as The Great Hound.

Character of the Great Hound: The Great Hound is a magnificent creature wholly devoted to the comfort, well being and boundless love of The Great Hound. He is unfailingly generous in the dispensing of Hound smell, sticky, spiky hairs and viscous drool amongst his minions.

Geography: Houndistan is a mobile kingdom and it exists wherever The Great Hound happens to be physically located, including but not limited to, your abode, your yard, your neighbor’s garbage bins and all surrounding parks and streets. Pedestrians who are unfortunate enough to get caught in the path of a line of scent that the Great Hound is following will be summarily bowled over. The Great Hound brooks no interference when he is following a line of scent and his human attendants must be prepared to alternately run fast to keep up with him or stand patiently for many minutes while the Great Nose investigates a particularly compelling scent.

Furniture: All furniture belongs to the Great Hound but he does not always shove you off of it—sometimes he prefers you to sit or lie on it so he can sit or lie on you-- and have you stroke him and arrange his wrinkles while he decorates your apparel with drool.

Food: All food belongs to The Great Hound. Great Hounds come in two varieties—the Voracious Great Hound who will lustily consume all edibles (“edibles” being extremely loosely defined) especially those that you are in the process of preparing or eating yourself and the Finicky Great Hound, who reserves the right to stick his nose and occasionally a bit of tongue, into all comestibles only to turn away sadly, finding them wanting in appeal. The Finicky Great Hound prefers to choose from among a wide range of freshly prepared food items offered to him for his daily delectation. One Great Hound bankrupts the Royal exchequer by sheer volume whilst the other achieves the same result by his devotion the highest standards of quality.

Recreation: Great Hounds are active in mind and body and require constant stimulation and entertainment. Although multi-hour hikes and walks dragging humans at the end of long leashes are preferred, Great Hounds also enjoy the presentation of tribute in the form of multiple rawhides, bully sticks and plush toys in a profusion of appealing shapes and sizes that can be chewed, ripped and shredded by the Royal Mouth. When these are unavailable Great Hounds enjoy a variety of sports including the eating of beds and couches and the digging of holes in the walls.

Personal Possessions: All things belong to the Great Hound. The royal treasury includes (but is not limited to) such items as: sheets, towels, couches and chairs (and especially their cushions, upholstery and legs), tables, pillows, duvets and blankets, all items of clothing (especially the contents of the laundry bin), gloves, boots, shoes of any description, bedroom slippers, all electronic equipment, (convenient mouth-sized items are especially pleasing to the Great Hound), toys, games, cards, newspapers, books, all desk and office items, garbage of every description (The Great Hound is a firm believer in recycling), the entire contents of the refrigerator along with everything else in the kitchen and all toiletry and bathroom items including the toilet bowl fountain. In short if it exists, it’s his.

Houndistan is a wonderful place to live—if you’re a Hound! (Now I am sure many people are thinking that this can’t be true “If they’re so bad why would people have them?” In fact, a bloodhound’s humans ask themselves this same question. Every day).

Now Monday is Columbus Day and every year I contemplate those brave explorers who risked their lives to obtain the treasures of the East and instead found the wilderness of the West. But it is a little known fact that Columbus actually had 4 ships—the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria and the Sabueso Grande:

Columbus: So we sail tomorrow to find the treasures of the East.

Captain Wimsey: Now let me get this straight. We are sailing West, but want to go East?

Columbus: Yes. If you sail East you just run into Africa. So why not give sailing West a shot? Seems like a better idea than North or South.

Captain Wimsey: But what happens if the earth is flat?

Columbus; Then we’ll fall off and end up who knows where.

Captain Wimsey: I see. And what do you hope to find in the East?

Columbus: Gold.

Captain Wimsey: Is gold edible?

Columbus: No.

Captain Wimsey: What else can we find?

Columbus: Gems.
Captain Wimsey: Are those edible?

Columbus: No. But we could find some rich textiles—you might enjoy those.

Captain Wimsey: What else?

Columbus: Well spices of course.

Captain Wimsey: Can I eat those?

Columbus: Well I wouldn’t recommend it.

Captain Wimsey: I hear the Costa del Sol is nice this time of year.

And so Columbus was forced to sail with only three ships. But Captain Wimsey’s life was not without achievement—he and his men did discover an excellent paella shack in Malaga.

Well now normally it would be time for our Great Moments in American History visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art, but I have to leave off early today as I am due over at Elizabeth’s for a delicious cooked dinner (I hear roast chicken. yams, scrambled eggs and kibble are the plat du jour this evening). I have once again gotten a reprieve on my bath night since Maria is going out, but Elizabeth still has the privilege of keeping me company this evening.

So until next time,

Wimsey, The Royal Raja of Houndistan

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry #87
October 3, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey—Manhattan and the Upper West Side’s foremost stinky bloodhound. Well, the wet weather we had earlier in the week has so enhanced my natural aroma that I fear another episode of Wimsey Bath Night is imminent. Pretty much everything about Wimsey Bath Night is pleasing (the turkey feeding during the actual bath itself, the subsequent cooked dinner and the presentation of the bully stick that keeps me occupied whilst I dry and of course the commanding of the undivided attentions of my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth ((whose bath and apartment I trash during these occasions—did you know that when you have just had a bath you can shake and fling wet loose spiky hairs all over the walls and ceiling?—but at least they are clean wet loose spiky hairs, which I know is a great consolation)).

Anyway the ladies don’t do too badly out of it either as they indulge in caipirinha drinking, ostensibly to recover from the arduous bath experience but really because Elizabeth likes to pretend that she lives in Brazil. But if we lived in Brazil I would be a fierce Fila Brasileiro and the ladies would not dare to bathe me, so caipirinhas and bossa nova music aside (The Hound from Ipanema has a catchy ring to it, don’t you think), things are much better as they are. And of course once I am mostly dry the ladies bury their faces in my fur and ecstatically snort the rare and intoxicating odor of clean Hound in a most annoyingly celebratory way. (“It’s Wimsey but it doesn’t smell like Wimsey!”). I wonder if it gets them high. Perhaps my clean fur should be declared a Schedule III substance by the FDA. Personally I think they should lay off the caipirinhas or the next thing you know they will be forcing me to wear a thong.

Anyway, all this bath talk is in aid of the fact that Saturday is the feast of St. Francis, which means that on Sunday the Cathedral of St. John the Divine will be holding The Blessing of the Animals and my humans are worried about the potentially less than salubrious effects of covering the priest in Hound smell (although due to the large number of participants I will most likely be brought to an outdoor blessing station—New Yorkers seem to have an abundance of animals in need of divine guidance ((Cesar Millan might perhaps be a better choice)). And for a more intimate experience, St Ignatius of Antioch, a church a stone’s throw away on West 87th Street is holding an actual 4p.m. service. In a church. In a church that is supposed to be quiet and peaceful (“How loud does Wimsey have to bay do you think before no one can hear the priest?”). The ladies are still thinking about that one. But I do appreciate the sentiment behind being blessed (“Do you think Wimsey will think it means he can do anything he wants because he has been blessed?” and “But he already does anything he wants. Maybe the blessing will slow him down--like causing him to reflect before he shreds the chair cushions?”). Anyway we will see—but perhaps it would be better if the ladies received a blessing too for all they go through taking care of me-- and as a hedge against the broken leg that I am determined to inflict upon Maria when I drag her down 5 flights of stairs without my Halti (which it has been determined hurts my face). Elizabeth, who refuses even to attempt a non-Halti descent, goes white at the sight, cognizant of the fact that if I break Maria’s leg I get to live with her for a while. I think I know exactly what she will be praying for on Sunday.

But this week I also received another social invitation—I was invited to a book party at the FCB Gallery (16 West 23rd Street) to celebrate the release of a book called Dog Run by photographer Michael Crouser. Now I was all in favor of attending myself but due to the potential opportunities for goosing and drool flinging and of visions of my active proboscis rooting about in the canapés and drinks and so forth, it was determined that Elizabeth would go in my stead. Now this a very interesting book because it does not contain cute and colorful pictures of benign Hounds disporting themselves in the dog run—no this book is dog run noir—the underbelly of the dog run if you will, photographed in a dramatic black and white style which brings out the form and textures of the assembled beasts to an amazing degree. This is a tough dog eat dog vision of the run and one expects Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade to enter the arena at any moment accompanied by his macho and cynical (yet somehow incredibly attractive) Hound Rocko Wimsey.

Sam Spade: Well Rocko, what do you think of the place?

Rocko Wimsey: What a dump!

Sam Spade: I know. There seems to be dirt everywhere.

Rocko Wimsey: No. Look at the mound that Rottweiler has produced. I’ll have to eat more fiber.

Sam Spade: Well try to keep your schnozzle clean—get it out of that dog’s tush-- I need you to find the bitch that played me for a sap. This ain’t no picnic, we’re here on a job.

Rocko Wimsey: What exactly happened?

Sam Spade: Well this hot tomato comes in and says she’s looking for a private dick. So I tell her she’s come to the right place—I’m a real dick, the biggest one there is. So the broad is real impressed like and we have a snort or two and she says her dogs are tired. So I look at her feet and she says. “No, you dick, not those dogs, those” and she points to a couple of innocent looking hounds lounging about. So I sez how ‘bout we let ‘em rest in the kitchen while we pitch a little woo.

Rocko Wimsey: Sounds like fun—I always enjoy getting a leg over.

Sam Spade: Well the dolly said she’d be back tomorrow with some scratch for my fee and she legged it with the Hounds.

Rocko Wimsey: Scratch sounds good. I like getting scratch. So where’s the problem?

Sam Spade: Well the dame with the Hounds skipped with all my dough and a bag of ice.

Rocko Wimsey: She stole your money and your diamonds!

Sam Spade: No, I was making pastry for me old mum’s birthday tomorrow and now I’m cleaned out! The old bat will be gutted.

Rocko Wimsey: Did I ever tell you about the time I caught a bat…

Sam Spade: Pipe down. Clam up. Put your beezer on the ground and find them broads!

Rocko Wimsey: Well all this talk of bats and clams is making me hungry.

Sam Spade: Find the dough and the ice and I’ll make you a Napoleon tomorrow. But be quick, I don’t want any more dicks showing up, there are entirely too many dicks in this town anyway.

Rocko Wimsey: I quite agree. Well what else do we know about this dame?

Sam Spade: She’s a canary.

Rocko Wimsey: A canary. Yummy. Not much meat though. I thought you weren’t going to talk about food.

Sam Spade: Not that kind of a canary you lunkhead—she sings.

Rocko Wimsey: Well so do I and I wouldn’t describe myself as a canary.

Sam Spade: Well let’s find them before they cheese it.

Rocko Wimsey: Could I have a cheese Danish instead of a Napoleon? Anyway, there are two liver colored bitches over there who have a distinctly yeasty odor. Perhaps I should insert my beezer into their tushes just to be sure.

Sam Spade: OK. But make it quick—we need to cop the ice and the dough and take a powder before someone rats us out.

Rocko Wimsey: Yum. Rats. Never fear—if there’s a rat I will smell it and chase it. Can I have a cheese Danish with rat topping do you think?

Sam Spade: Just remember that if we fail we’re going to the big house.

Rocko Wimsey: Jail?

Sam Spade: Worse. We’ll have to go live with my mother.

Anyway, I think I would have made an excellent hard boiled Hound and would have looked magnificent sauntering around with Humphrey Bogart or perhaps biting James Cagney in the caboose. Sigh. Instead I am to be washed and canoodled with by women and made to smell good. But do check out the Dog Run Book, as anyone with good taste enough to invite me to a party deserves to succeed.

Well it is time once again for our Great Moments in American History visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Now lately there have been televised debates by the presidential candidates and posterity will evaluate their successes and failures. However, perhaps nothing in American History was debated as fiercely as the Constitution but we are sadly lacking in sound bites and bytes, and have only paintings and diaries to go by. Now during the Revolution, the states were governed by a decentralized form of government under The Articles of Confederation and it was updated in February 1787. However, states sent delegates to Philadelphia in May 1787 to make further improvements when the group decided to scrap the whole thing and to start over. The debates were kept secret to allow delegates to speak freely-- which even then showed an admirable appreciation of the ability of public opinion to sway the political process. However, both James Madison (who drafted the document) and another colonial ancestor of mine, Josiah Wimsey, kept accurate diaries of the proceedings. Josiah reports much conflict between the federalists such as Madison and Alexander Hamilton who favored a strong central government and various state delegations who favored a more decentralized system. Josiah was called upon many times to raise his fine voice to silence the shouting (for none could be heard above Josiah’s booming baritone) and technology being what is was, to act as an 18th century paper shredding machine. Perhaps if it had all been televised, the conventioneers would still be fighting. But as it was, on September 17, 1787 the convention signed the new Constitution and a unique form of government was born. Josiah was proud of the achievement but understandably disappointed when the convention voted to scrap the original “We the People and Hounds” that he had suggested to Madison. In any case the painting that best captures the scene is The Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States (Howard Chandler Christy, 1940, US Capitol, Washington DC). Here we see all of the convention finally illuminated by the light pouring in from the open window—during the actual deliberations themselves the drapes were closed to preserve secrecy and prevent the prying eyes of the 18th century paparazzi. (Josiah’s diaries make note of the fact that when the discussions got bogged down he frequently chewed on these drapes to alleviate the boredom). In any case Chandler has chosen to show the arms of the South Carolina delegation raised as if in tribute to Washington, echoed by the elevated muzzle and body of Josiah. In fact Josiah is in “pre-bay” position and with the next leap would have let fly a bellow of astonishing amplitude. Fortunately microphones had not yet been invented.

Well it is time to prepare for my busy weekend of making myself as conspicuous and disruptive as possible—a prized skill amongst we of the Hound persuasion.

Until next time,

Wimsey, the heavenly Hound (I don’t believe I have ever drooled on a chasuble before).