Friday, December 26, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry #99
December 26, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey wishing you a happy Boxing Day from Manhattan’s currently soggy Upper West Side. Fortunately my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth managed to keep any boxes out of my reach, (although I can’t say the same for the plastic water bottle that I dug out of the recyclables when the ladies were otherwise occupied). Now the term Boxing Day is supposed to have originated in jolly old England (where Elizabeth spent many a boring Boxing Day moping around with friends nursing hangovers and fruitlessly hunting for something to watch on telly in order to forestall the inevitable joys of playing board games and waiting for it not to be Boxing Day) where employers were said to give gifts to their household help and to the under privileged in general (Christmas boxes) on the day.

But of course for we Hounds every day is Boxing Day, especially yesterday when I tried to climb onto Maria’s lap whilst she was imbibing a cocktail and eating fancy cheese-- although it was not technically boxing since she was not fully able to use her hands-- but it was all “Quick! It’s Woman vs. Hound” and there was so much merriment that I actually had her pinned for a while. Laughter is always the friend of the Hound as it seems inimical to the effective execution of anti-Hound maneuvers. Anyway, I had a lovely Christmas bath (NYC has been such a slush fest this week that I was beginning to smell rather like a swamp), a fine cooked meal of mixed poultry and was finally awarded my giant Christmas candy cane rawhide. And we were also forced to watch Elizabeth’s favorite Christmas movie, Christmas in Connecticut, about a woman who writes a weekly magazine column (isn’t that the ancient version of a blog?) and has no domestic skills. Hmm…

But there is really nothing that puts one in the mood for Christmas so much as a week of slush filled towing, except that before the snow was slush it was ice, which made me feel quite reindeer-like as my traction challenged humans glided gracelessly and somewhat noisily behind my every tug of the leash. My photos this week are somewhat gloomy looking due to the overcast conditions, but I was able to get in a good romp nonetheless. And my humans discovered this stuff (yet another item of mine for them to carry!) called Paw Pro ( from Drs. Fosters and Smith to protect my dainty feet from the vicissitudes of the salt and ice with which New York City streets abound. Unlike musher’s wax, Paw Pro sprays on, which is frankly a much easier proposition than thinking about tinkering with my massive “messing resistant” paws. But there is still talk of trying to fit me with boots under the theory that as I am an idiosyncratic Hound I might actually like wearing them. I would stay tuned on that one.

And while I am on the topic of useful products, a few weeks ago I was sent a bowl to evaluate called the DogPause ( that is designed to slow down fast feeding canines. Now as it happens I am a rather slow and methodical eater (very un-Hound like I know, but we bloodhounds are famous for either being voracious or finicky and not much in between—it’s more annoying that way) as I employ the pig nose style of eating. For those of you unfamiliar with the technique, the pig nose style of eating consists of me resting my prominent proboscis on the rim of the food bowl and delicately using my tongue to scoop up the contents of the bowl. It is a laborious and time consuming process—especially as my drool generally seems to promote the adhesion of the food to the bottom of the bowl. The pig nose method also requires the use of a feeding station (when I eat at Elizabeth’s she becomes the feeding station by dint of sitting on the floor and holding the bowl steady in her lap—otherwise I just push the unanchored bowl all over her kitchen making both a racket and even more of a mess-- just another one of the many wonderful habits that make me such a delightful houseguest and yet another reason that Elizabeth assiduously looks after the health of Maria). So I sent the bowl over to one of the kennel attendants at the animal shelter where Elizabeth volunteers—the woman adopted a dog whose blitzkrieg eating style was making her a candidate for both the Guinness Book of records and a roaring case of bloat. Well the bowl was a huge success (“When I first put down the kibble filled pause bowl Sheba looked at it strangely. Normally she begins to inhale the food before I even set the bowl down! She then began eating each compartment. It took her about four times as long to eat from this bowl than it did with her old bowl which makes me ecstatic! I really like how deep each compartment is because it creates obstacles in finding every last piece of kibble.”). So if you’ve got a chomper of a canine of anywhere from 15-150 lbs. you might want to give it a shot.

Now before we leave the subject of Christmas entirely, I just want to say that is has come to my attention that the well organized Newfoundland people established a nationwide secret Santa program this year and I have been viewing pictures of lively newfs ripping open treat and toy containing boxes and envelopes from around the country. I think a Secret Santa, Hound Edition would be an excellent idea, however I suspect that the presents would be somewhat different:

Gift Items For a Hound Secret Santa

It’s All in Your Head! Every Hound owner needs their head examined and this gift--sessions with the psychotherapist of your choice-- will make it all possible! Explore your deep seated need to be humiliated by your Hound and see how his sense of entitlement can leave you devoid of both dignity and possessions!

A luxurious Caribbean cruise! A deluxe two week cruise for two for you to give away to someone without Hounds. Enjoy your fill of vicarious sun and fun and drinks with umbrellas through the wonders of video and email.

A $5,000 gift certificate to LL Bean good for a wide selection of snow boots, rain boots, mud boots, slush boots and waterproof Hound jackets and coats of every weight and design. Included: a bonus “poop finder” baseball cap with an LED light for locating your Hound’s gifts on even the darkest nights.

Baggies Baggies Baggies! A year’s supply of super sized baggies for those larger than life moments in your Hound’s career. Strong yet supple these baggies are designed for maximum tactility and “hand feel” permitting the most accurate assessment of the state of your Hound’s bowels yet!

Merry Maids Gift Package: For the Hound lover whose friends and family refuse to visit for hygienic reasons. Merry Maids will help reduce the stench, drool and hair to levels experienced by ordinary dog owners. See how the other half lives!

Gardens of Delight: No moonscape is too great a challenge for these fellows. Holes, uprooted bushes, shredded flower beds, mounds of ossified Hound soil—they fix it all!

Furniture Madness! Has that special someone in your life eaten your furniture? Never fear—a visit to out warehouse will replace it all (electronics extra).

It’s raining orthopedists! A free year’s worth of visits to your local friendly orthopedic doctor—including one deluxe trip to the emergency room and one outpatient surgery—to help ease the pain of Hound ownership.

Well, I think a Hound secret Santa would be very much appreciated. Anyway, this week my humans made a visit to the Museum of Natural History, ostensibly to see the horse exhibit which is to close soon, but really to ogle the fascinating creatures in the Hall of Dinosaurs (I would love to be that big!). But there is a little visited section of the museum that they missed:

The Hall of Hounds

Houndus filchus minimus
: An extremely small primordial Hound: these were Hounds so small that they were able to steal and destroy things early man didn’t even know he owned. This probably contributed to their longevity.

Houndus larcenus minor: A primordial small Hound: these Hounds were able to steal and destroy items people knew they had but often justified the loss of because the items were so small (“He’s only eaten all of my shoelaces—I am sure I can just glue my shoes on my feet. And after all, he is very cute”). When used for hunting these Hounds were known for finding prey so small and unappetizing-- newts, rats and centipedes for instance-- that no one else wanted to eat them. Their cuteness was sometimes marred by the resultant obesity.

Houndus loudus: A primordial medium sized Hound: these were robust Hounds that could strip and eat a hut in record time. Consequently early man was forced to give them something else to do, like hunting in loud noisy packs. Then it was discovered that fellow early men would pay large sums of meat to follow along and be entertained by watching the loud noisy packs try to hunt. Pack owners prospered and ended up owning most of England as a consequence.

Houndus wimseii: The stellar exhibit in the Hall of Hounds, Houndus wimseii is the forerunner of the modern large Hound. He was a magnificent looking creature-- as much prized for his looks as he was for his abilities—his destructive powers were the stuff of legend—whole villages fell to the ravages of these beasts, but fortunately no one seemed to mind much because they were of unsurpassed cuteness. Houndus wimseii was known to be relentless in the pursuit of the things it wanted—largely things already owned by someone else—but his interests did occasionally include the tracking of meaty animals, wherein at the conclusion of the chase he would graciously allow the attendant humans to actually do the messy work of food preparation for him. Houndus wimseii liked to be served, a characteristic he has passed down to his modern descendants.

And speaking of museums, it is time once again time for our visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Today in honor of my fine Christmas meal we are going to view the work of a rather obscure 18th century French painter (the 18th century being noted for its excellence in the production of obscure painters) Jean-Baptiste Oudry. Now French 18th century art is the century that brought us the gooey delights of the rococo and other types of sentimental art not usually admired here at the Wimsey Institute. However, Jean-Baptiste Oudry was the official court painter of the hunt! He spent his career raking in the francs by painting pictures of the stuff Louis XV killed—hardly the masterworks to excite the curatorial soul. But he did paint lots of (temporarily) live animals and among his oeuvres was this piece which seemed very appropriate to display: Ducks Resting in the Sunshine (Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 1753, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). But it really makes no sense that these ducks were just hanging out (especially in France, home of duck a l’orange and hard hunting French monarchs) and the scene has a rather static quality to it. But see how the addition of a magnificent rampaging Hound who is about to catch his dinner adds to the drama and the dynamic quality of the painting! Ducks in the Sunshine About to Be Eaten By Wimsey. (I wonder if my humans would consider hiring a court painter to paint my dishes of kibble?)

Well until next time—hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

Wimsey the Christmas Gift

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wmsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 98
December 19, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you from the snowy wonderland that is Manhattan’s fabulous Upper West Side! There is nothing quite as beautiful as Manhattan (and Central and Riverside Parks) when it snows. It’s like being in a touching Christmas movie--one where a magnificent Hound brings tears to the eyes of his humans! And speaking of humans, my human Maria is already assembling the extra Hound control equipment that she will need if she has any hope of staying upright whilst being dragged into snow banks by me. And her friend Elizabeth may finally get to wear at least one of the three pairs of high traction snow boots she got last year for the same purpose. But it will take more than three pairs of boots to control an excited snow loving Hound such as myself! This year the ladies have also purchased some stuff to spray on my paws that is supposed to protect them from the salt and ice on the sidewalks. While this might be a good product in theory, I don’t think the ladies thought through the fact that they will actually have to get me to let them mess with all four of my paws without them sitting on me. I rather think this product might join the nail clippers in the Wimsey Dust Bin of Historically Impermissible Implements.

But all this snow puts me in the mood for a lusty chorus of:

Oh, the Hound outside is frightful
But the Hound inside is so delightful (when he is not trying to crush me, shred the newspapers or eat the remote control)
And since we’ve no place to go (its hard to move with a 126 lb, Hound in your lap)
Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow!

And of course that American classic:

I’m dreaming of a yellow Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear me peeing in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I shred
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Hounds be actually white (and not yellow)

Anyway, this was a really exciting week as I am sure you can imagine. All the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping (immortalized in my Christmas shopping montage) and endless rounds of that seasonal game—“Don’t let Wimsey Pee on the Christmas Trees.” Now here in New York Christmas tree vendors line up their wares on the street so that they form long, luscious corridors of peeable conifers—it’s a veritable Hound urinal—even thinking about it makes me want to pee-- only somehow I am not supposed to use these trees for the purpose that nature intended. Harumph. (or more precisely, Ahroooooo!). These unwarranted restrictions did not put me in any great mood on Sunday and there were some definitely peevish (and loud) moments when we were shooting the Christmas montage. In fact my humans have an extensive collection of pictures of me with my muzzle pointing skyward in auditory protest (companion pieces to the pictures where I turn my rump to the camera or find something urgent to sniff stage left). But all the noise attracted lots of people which had the desirable and somewhat compensatory effect of allowing me to slime perfect strangers while at the same time delay the shooting of the heinous montage.

And for Christmas every year Elizabeth buys me the same present from Petco—a four foot piece of rawhide bent into the shape of a candy cane. So this Sunday, as we were all headed to Petco to buy another whacking great sack of food for me (it takes two people to transport it up the stairs), Elizabeth decided to purchase my rawhide candy cane in advance. Now there is really no way one can persuade a loud and demanding Hound that one is not in fact carrying a four foot rawhide candy cane down Broadway. I am afraid I made quite a scene—furiously baying and cavorting Hounds being somewhat thin on the ground in New York City. And in the midst of all of this ruckus it occurred to Elizabeth to suggest to Maria that perhaps the rawhide candy cane could be stored in my closet until Christmas morning to save her the trouble of bringing it over. Well, the withering look that she received in reply made it clear to Elizabeth that this was not one of her brighter ideas (I think visions of my continuous serenading of the closet danced alarmingly in Maria’s head).

Anyway, Christmas shopping can be very entertaining, especially when Maria is in a store and Elizabeth and I are forced to wait outside-- giant smelly drooly Hounds for some reason not being particularly welcome in upper west side emporiums. And this Sunday I attracted my usual crowd of inquisitive admirers and who quizzed Elizabeth extensively on all matters Wimsey. And although she tried to answer the questions somewhat objectively, I know what she really wanted to say:

What kind of dog is he (a bad one)
You don’t see many bloodhounds in New York (people have more sense)
Are bloodhounds always this big (no, his owner got lucky)
Is he a nice dog (don’t get me started)
But he’s so cute (I hear Attila the Hun was a fine looking chap too)
Is he hard to take care of in New York City (depends on whether you expect to have a life)
Does he eat a lot (only if you cook him what he likes)
I bet you have a large apartment (he takes up most of it)

And there are also loud men in red suits baying on street corners and ringing bells. But none of them are Hounds, which I think is very unfair:

A Visit With a Hound Santa

Hound Santa: Ahroooo! Ahrooo! Ahrooo! Who do we have here?

Visitor 1: It’s me Hound Santa. Bernie the Beagle.

Hound Santa: You’re so small I almost didn’t see you down there!

Bernie the Beagle: Well I do try to eat a lot so I’ll grow.

Hound Santa: And have you been a good Hound?

Bernie the Beagle: Yes Hound Santa. I stole the Thanksgiving turkey oft the counter and dashed under the coffee table so all the guests could enjoy watching me eat it.

Hound Santa: Excellent. Excellent. Here is a large bag of Yummy Chummies for you to break into when you’re supposed to be having a quiet nap. Next!

Visitor 2: Hello Hound Santa. It’s me, Billy the basset.

Hound Santa: Why the long face? Haven’t you been a good Hound?

Billy the Basset: Yes Hound Santa. You know we bassets are built low to the ground for a reason. I am able to store all the gloves and electronic gear my humans think they’ve lost elsewhere under the bed where I can destroy them at my leisure.

Hound Santa; Ahroo, Ahroo Ahroo. A very clever use of a body type designed to actually help humans hunt. Hoist by their own petard and all that. Here is a nice big rawhide to add to your stash. Whose next? Yikes! What kind of creature are you?!

Visitor # 3: It’s me, Alfred the Afghan.

Hound Santa: Did anyone ever tell you you need a shave? Are you sure you’re a Hound?

Alfred the Afghan: Absolutely. I’m not very bright, extremely stubborn, like to chase small defenseless animals and have an almost feline indifference to the wishes of my humans.

Hound Santa: Well it does sound like you have the proper Hounditude. Have you a been a good pseudo Hound?

Alfred the Afghan: Oh yes. I raided the hall closet and used my athletic ability to jump high in the air to the top shelf and steal my human’s fur hat (I strongly disapprove of fur that I can’t chase). And of course catching me when I take off is out of the question unless you’re say a cheetah or something.

Hound Santa: Very nice. Perhaps you are a real Hound after all. Here is a nice stuffed woodchuck for you to shred. Next!

Visitor # 4: Merry Christmas Hound Santa. I am Gordon the Golden Retriever. I have been trained by Cesar Millan and am always calm and submissive and listen to everything my humans tell me to do. I love them so much! I fetch their newspapers and their slippers and never take anything that doesn’t belong to me and never ever walk in front of them or tug on my leash.

Hound Santa: You’re an idiot! We have a special gift for canines like you. Hey.. who stole the lump of coal!

I think I would make a very fine Santa. Well this week’s excitement hasn’t all been about Christmas. On Wednesday during my early evening constitutional we saw a raccoon strolling down Riverside Drive! He was a fine looking fellow, all plump and fuzzy, and I was strenuously in favor of getting to know him better but the ladies were rather vigorously opposed to the idea and in the end I had to content myself with merely dragging them to all the places that the raccoon had been. I don’t in the least see why their wishes should count in these matters—I mean how bright can they be-- one of them managed to inadvertently change the input language on her new Blackberry to Greek and the other seems unable to convince her Blackberry that she doesn’t speak Spanish. And then of course, there was Elizabeth’s great cable TV crisis when her cable company required the installation of cable boxes (New York recently having gone all digital) and she needed two for the same TV because of her Byzantine Tivo array. Unfortunately she overlooked the fact that changing the channel with the cable remote changed both boxes as they are one on top of another and when this was realized she frantically called Maria to get advice on what blocks the IR signal on a cable box. Maria was like, “Well Wimsey can block an IR signal” and whereas it is entirely true that I like to position myself in front of the cable box whenever Maria picks up the remote, I really didn’t think that having me dashing over to Elizabeth’s whenever she needed to use only one cable box was a very practical idea. So people who can’t control their Blackberries and cable boxes should not be passing judgment on the desirability of my socializing with raccoons.

Anyway, as promised we once again return for a visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art where in honor of the three newly discovered drawings by Leonardo da Vinci we examine one his masterworks, Girl With An Ermine (Leonardo da Vinci, 1489, Czartoryski Museum, Krakow, Poland). Now this a very beautiful painting of an extraordinary young woman (she was 17 when this was painted), Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of the Duke of Milan. She was highly educated, spoke Latin, wrote poetry played music and hosted one of the first salons in Europe. And Leonardo infuses the painting with a dynamic quality as evidenced by the fact that he seems to catch the sitter just in the act of turning--perhaps to listen to what someone is saying. Although the title of the painting would lead one to believe that the woman is holding an ermine, it is really a white ferret, which to me somehow lacks the same cachet. But in any case, as a beautiful and refined woman she should really be holding a beautiful and refined Hound! See how much better she looks cuddling this diminutive, yet somehow haughty Hound. And the presence of the Hound also makes the painting more clear as she is probably turning to acknowledge someone who is greatly admiring him. Girl With A Wimsey.

OK, so I know this is a long post but in a PS, I have reprised last year’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas with some new recently discovered illustrations.

Merry Christmas to you all,

Wimsey This is How I Really Feel About the Santa Hat

Wimsey’s Night before Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 97
December 12, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you from Holiday Hound Central here on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and wishing you all an (almost) Merry Christmas. The holiday is fast approaching, although I must say that every day is a bit like Christmas for a much admired Hound such as myself. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are constantly on the lookout for new gift items that will meet with Houndly approval (and keep me out of everyone’s hair for a bit—of course they can keep me out of their hair but they can’t keep my hair out of them, no matter how many gifts they heap upon my pointy head). And rather than having snow, yesterday we had an entire day—which means four walks—of soaking rain which sent Maria fleeing to the LLbean Catalog (the Vogue of Hound owners) for a new jacket to prevent the current massive runoff onto her jeans.

Elizabeth weathered the storm better in her long Lands End parka, a new garment in which she has ecstatically discovered 12 pockets (like a fishing vest for the winter!). And the pockets remind me of the twelve days of Christmas:

In the first pocket she carries for me: Large plastic bags to pick up my gigantic poop

In the second pocket she carries for me: A multitude of tissues to wipe the drool from my muzzle before I fling it on unsuspecting passersby

In the third pocket she carries for me: Biscuits to assuage my hunger while we walk

In the fourth pocket she carries for me: My business cards to distribute to my many admirers

In the fifth pocket she carries for me: My twenty foot leash

In the sixth pocket she carries for me: A camera to record my extraordinary beauty

In the seventh pocket she carries for me: Her leftovers for my evening dinner

In the eighth pocket she carries for me: A Zoom groom to give me a massage and make my coat more shiny

In the ninth pocket she carries for me: Direct Stop in case I am attacked by a canine ninja

In the tenth pocket she carries for me: a Halti in case I get in a mood to break some bones or to dislocate some limbs

In the eleventh pocket she carries for me: A cell phone in case I have an emergency

In the twelfth pocket she carries not for me: A useless book on dog training.

(and rather than a partridge in a pear tree—yummy—she also carries my water canteen slung over her shoulder-- is it any wonder she looks like the Michelin man?)

However, last night the 12th pocket contained the third Cesar Millan DVD on Mastering Leadership that we all watched after a nice meal of pizza (this time I wasn’t hand fed the pizza, rather it was thoughtfully cut up for me in my bowl). Now there is nothing like watching a Cesar Millan video with my humans sprawled on the couch and me sprawled on top of my humans. (it’s a good thing we can see Cesar but Cesar can’t see us!). And of course the juxtaposition of hearing Cesar’s views on doling out affection only at appropriate moments whilst receiving a four handed massage was richly entertaining. (As an added bonus, my post rain ears remained both wet and freezing cold which made draping them on sensitive necks or dangling them down shirts pretty squeal worthy. Of course the ladies could have tried to remove me from their laps, but somehow this seems never to occur to them).

Anyway the third Cesar Millan video is my favorite, notwithstanding the peals of laughter from my humans every time Cesar mentions that dogs are not supposed to walk in front of humans or charge through doorways first. (Cesar believes in mastering the walk; I believe in mastering the tow, as you can see in this brief video—and I was quite calm that day too).

Cesar’s third video is about acquiring a dog and it follows three cases: getting a dog from a shelter, getting a dog from a rescue group and getting a dog from a breeder. Cesar discusses the importance of getting a dog that matches your energy level: “low”, “medium”, “high” and “very high” (“insane” was apparently not one of the choices). But the best part of the video was the second case, which involved getting a Basset Hound from a rescue group. During the video someone asks why there are so many Basset Hounds in rescue, whereupon my humans shouted “We know!’ in perfect unison. And trust me, the Basset is a much milder Hound than I. The Basset Hound segment stimulated yet another discussion as to why people want Hounds. Maria’s excuse is that she doesn’t know any better—she’s only just had Hounds. Elizabeth, who has lots of experience with regular dogs, just “Tsk, tsk, tsks” at me a lot and expounds on how, although I am a very fine Hound, I am really a very dreadful dog. But Maria and I suspect that the fact that she buys a quantity of extra poached salmon at the gourmet store so that I can have “leftovers” (2/3 of a pound of salmon not generally being considered a single portion) and accompanies me on my long walk every evening and spends Sundays with me in the park and buys me toys and cooks for me, (including an entire Thanksgiving dinner with leftovers) and bathes me (even though I trash her apartment) and takes pictures of me and smells like me really means that she is rather fond of me in spite of her protestations. Especially, as in true Houndly fashion, I give her back…nothing! (if you don’t count the hair, the smell and the drool, although observation leads me to believe that these gifts are not entirely appreciated). I think it is human nature to want to please a withholding entity such as myself—my slightest gesture of approbation becomes cause for major celebration (”Wimsey belched in my face! I am sure he is telling me how much he enjoyed the salmon I brought him!”). If I were a slavish canine I am sure it would be all “Look Wimsey cleaned the apartment, did the laundry and bought me a Christmas present. Yawn. Good Dog.” As things are now, if I happen to choose to sit when someone happens to say “sit” my intelligence is lauded as if I had just solved a quadratic equation. (“Wimsey is a canine Einstein!”)

But watching the part of the DVD about how to bring a new dog into your home caused some happy reminiscences about my arrival in New York City—I was driven from my breeder in Illinois to New Jersey and then picked up by Maria and driven to New York. Naturally I rode in her lap (I was as yet too young to appreciate the joys of trying to steer the car by playing with the steering wheel). Then we went for a brief puppy tow around the block and finally she carried me up the stairs to her apartment, as I was deemed to small to accomplish this task on my own (I encouraged this activity to such an extent that it was not until I was over 40lbs that it occurred to Maria that perhaps this was something that I now might be able to achieve unaided).

I don’t think Cesar would have approved, but then it worked for us (or at least me, which is the main thing). So as far as giving the Cesar Millan DVD series as a Christmas present, I can recommend it as a gift for people with regular dogs (those that actually care about what their humans want) And as for people with Hounds—well, they might enjoy seeing how the other half lives. Or they might weep.

And speaking of Christmas presents, every year there is a Christmas fair at the southern tip of Central Park and I towed my humans over for a visit last Sunday. We were unable to do any proper shopping though, as wherever we went people insisted on admiring me and taking my picture. I caused quite a stir as it is not the usual thing for a large baying Hound to suddenly appear amidst all the traditional displays of arts and crafts. And we met some nice people from Spain which gave Elizabeth the opportunity to tell them I was a “sabueso grande” which elicited a response of “Oh, you speak Spanish!” whereupon she had to admit that her Spanish vocabulary was limited to saying “Great Hound.” In fact most of the things my humans can say in other languages are about me, which is as it should be, other topics of conversation being superfluous. Hounds are like Esperanto—a universal language. Hounds promote international unity as “He’s so cute!” knows no geographic boundaries. We should be the symbol for the UN.

But the New York Christmas fair, which is modeled on the fairs of medieval Europe, got me thinking once again about my heritage as a rare and prized hunting Hound (the monks of St. Hubert, who bred us, were obliged to present a pair of us every year to the King of France. Poor chap.). In 21st century New York, however, my magnificent nose and my hard charging drive to use it represent an inconvenience, whereas in the Middle Ages it represented a priceless gift. After all, the local lords couldn’t exactly nip on down to the neighborhood Safeway to provision their tables should they have a bad day in the forest. Hunting with a Hound of my caliber must have been a revelation-- St. Huberts were the Lamborghini of Hounds---where juicy boar and meaty animals went we were sure to follow, quickly and accurately. And we were much celebrated in song and verse. It is a little known fact that Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales also included a Hound’s Tale, as my ancestors generally tagged along on pilgrimages to Canterbury to make sure the pilgrims had something to eat besides medieval gruel.

The Hound’s Tale (loosely translated from the Middle English)
By Geoffrey Chaucer

Now there was a Duke of Wessex who a precious gift had received
A magnificent Hound to him was given as a mark of kingly favor
For his services in subduing some annoying barbarians who wanted their land back
And at first well pleased the Duke was with this wonderful Hound

Meat abundant there was suddenly gracing the ducal table
His chevaliers shocked and awed were by the Magik of The Nose
The Great Olfactor failed never to find delectable viand on the hoof
And much rejoicing was there about the prowess of this Hound

Alas the Duke became in his mind discomfited as time flew on
Masques and fetes there were given in honour of the Hound
Musik and poesie there were composed to celebrate and extol the virtues of the Hound
And Sir Rocco of Spirito a cookbook penned based upon the new meats of Houndly procurement

And when the Duke his court entered, no fanfares thus, but cries of “Where is the Hound”
And when the Hound accompanied him did, chevaliers on bended knee their obeisance made to the Smelly Beast
And the Hound was caparisoned in cloth of gold and precious stones bejeweled his fine collar

And so it was that the Duke felt Duke no more but mere vassal of the Magnificent Hound—a mighty peevement felt he
Yeah even his very garments and palace walls bore evidence of the omnipresent beast
And yet the choicest bits of viand did find their way into the mouth of the creature
And of an evening the Hound even sat upon the ducal throne, having shov’d its rightful owner to the ground.

So the Duke determined to regift the Hound to the court of a rival duke (or mayhaps his mother in law)
But alas without the consideration of the Ladies had he not reckoned
A fury arose the like of which had nevermore been seen, then or since, in all of Wessex
“But he’s so cute!” the battle cry of the avenging angels, they roared as one

A cautionary tale this is I fear:

The Duke was forevermore deprived of enjoying the charms of his lady wife
And all the wise and virtuous court ladies her example followed too
And endless pilgrimages to Canterbury the lot of the deposed Duke became
While the Hound snored in his bed.

Here ends the Hounds Tale.

Unfortunately Chaucer’s Hound ate the tale so it was never included in the standard version of the Canterbury Tales, but a copy was preserved by one of my medieval ancestors, Ch. Thomas à Beckett Wimsey.

Well what with DVD reviews and Chaucerian scholarship we have not time for our foray into the realm of art history, but I do have hope that next week we will resume our visits to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Until then I wish you all the joys of the season—and don’t pay any attention to that silly “naughty or nice” system—it’s rigged against Hounds.

Until next time,

Ye Obnoxious Wimsey