Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #243

Entry #243

December 30, 2011

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from the epicenter of the country’s New Year’s festivities Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Well actually the true epicenter, Times Square, is about a mile and half to the south but it’s such a paltry distance for a traveling Hound such as myself that it barely counts. In any case, my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth will not be standing around in the cold watching the ball drop but will be sitting around in the warm scratching me watching the drool drop.

It’s this type of preoccupation with me that prompted this Christmas gift to arrive in the mail for my human Maria. In case you can’t read it, it is a bottle of Wimsey Eau de Hound because “you can never be too rich or smell too much like a Hound (Didn’t the Duchesse of Windsor say that?) And the back states that the product is “Distinctive, Penetrating, Insouciant, Stubborn” (sound or rather smell familiar?) and is “For the woman who stands out in a

crowd or perhaps it’s just her Wimsey.” Well the only reason my humans stand out in a crowd is because of me—the smell alone is enough to attract notice let alone my baying, poking and leaning to say nothing of my surprise purse and shopping bag inspections (a surprise at least to those being inspected).

And the perfume inside—Obsession. Which pretty much describes both my humans’ attitude towards me as well as my own attitude towards me. So, many thanks to Maria’s friend Kurt (why do Maria and her friends all sound like they belong in The Sound of Music? I am surprised that I was not named Captain von Trapp—I’m certainly musical enough) and rest assured that there is not a perfume in the world strong enough to interfere with my Houndly odor. But on the subject of The Sound of Music I have some ideas:

Wimsey’s Sound of Music

Servant: Captain von Trapp, the new dog trainer is here!

Captain von Trapp: It’s about time. That last one was terrible.

Servant: The doctor says she will be out of the hospital soon.

Captain von Trapp: Well I can’t imagine what she thought she was doing waving a piece of liver around and yelling, “all dogs come.”

Servant: But they did come Captain.

Captain: Yes, but they also sent her flying and trampled her while wrestling over the liver. I don’t think that’s what she intended. I mean there are only seven Hounds after all and I can control them perfectly.

Servant: Yes, but you stand behind an invisible fence.

Captain: Sitting on them also works. And there is always the gentle leader.

Servant: But I think the idea is that they are supposed to do what you tell them without compulsion.

Captain: But they’re Hounds!

Servant: Well this last trainer was still better than the one before, you know the little guy who tried to alpha roll them.

Captain: Yes I remember. He was very disappointed that the Hounds liked to be alpha rolled. Apparently it reminds them of belly rubs. And of course the alpha rolling had absolutely no effect on their disinclination to listen to him.

Servant: Captain von Trapp, she’s here! May I present Maria.

Captain: Ye gads, why is she dressed like that?!

Servant: She says they’re her Hound clothes.

Captain: Well they certain smell like them. Anyway, I’ll introduce her to the Hounds. She does have good insurance, right.

Servant: Yes Captain.

Captain: Very well. Fraulein may I present my Hounds: Smelly, Loud, Obnoxious, Willful, Entêté (his mother was French), Disobedient and Entitled.

Maria: They’re so cute! And what charming names!

Captain: You may not think so when you try to train them.

Maria: Train them? You mean you think I am here to train them? But why? They are perfect just the way they are.

Captain: Then why are you here?

Maria: To train you. You are the problem. Haven’t you watched any dog training TV shows? Anyway, the nuns at the Convent of New Salzburg warned me that there was some disturbed baron who was trying to upend the divine plan.

Captain: But surely as a superior being I am supposed to issue commands and they are supposed to follow them?

Maria: You live with Hounds and you think you are the superior being? That’s your first mistake. And if you persist in issuing orders that you expect them to obey then you will doom yourself to a life of disappointment and unhappiness.

Captain: Then what should I do?

Maria: You must learn to accept what you cannot control. Like when they eat the couch or dig up your manicured gardens or put holes in your best dress uniform. The Hounds were sent here to teach us patience, humility and tolerance and to make us understand what is important.

Captain: Which is?

Maria: Them.

Several weeks later:

Captain: Kurt! Kurt! What happened to all my blankets? I froze last night!

Servant: Fraulein Maria made dog coats out of them.

Captain: And the shower curtains have disappeared!

Servant: She used them to make raincoats—apparently the Hounds don’t like being wet.

Captain: What are we going to do about Maria?

Servant: I suggest marrying her Sir. No one else will.

Captain: Not a white wedding though.

Well you get the idea. But there are a lot of misconceptions on the subject of Hound obedience (an oxymoron if ever there was one)—like that we are not all that bright. This is completely untrue and we Hounds actually harbor a surfeit of neurons in our occipital protuberances (otherwise known as our pointy heads). The real problem is that while humans think they are saying one thing, in Houndspeak they are really saying quite another.

Houndspeak Obedience Command Translations

Sit: Sit means that a human is holding a tasty snack in their hand and that the fastest and most efficient way to obtain this tasty snack is to lunge for it and grab it. Should you wish to practice your sit an excellent time is in the show ring when your human is trying to stack you or when the judge is examining you.

Down: (see sit). Alternatively this command can mean that you are somehow in the way or are too large or too intimidating in a standing or seated position. As all of these attributes are all extremely desirable why would you mitigate the advantage of them by lying down? Consequently the command “down” really means “loom larger.” But “down” can safely be practiced in tandem with “thwack” when a belly rub is desired or in the show ring during your down and back when you want to scratch that itch on your back.

Heel: “Heel” is a command of weakness that means your human is tired, injured, embarrassed or fed up, all of which means, “pull harder, you’re winning.” “Heel” and “Hound” are antithetical concepts like matter and anti-matter and should never be brought together. A Hound, by dint of thousands of years of creative genetics, must be out front dragging a human along the fascinating line of the scent du jour. There are almost no circumstances in which a Hound should practice heel, with the exception perhaps of trying to chew a hole in a human’s jacket pocket to access a desirable treat.

Come: Contrary to what humans think, this is never a good command as it usually means that whatever it is that your are enjoying yourself doing your human is not enjoying themselves watching and prefers that you desist. Plus humans seldom issue this command when they want to do something nice like giving you a new toy or some gelato because when you see or sense the good thing the command is superfluous. “Come” can lead to baths, vet visits, crates, silly hats etc. But you can practice “come” whenever a situation arises (like a dinner party) in which you can make a colossal nuisance of yourself.

No: The command “no” essentially means that you are on to a good thing-go for it. There is no stronger word with which to encourage a Hound than “no” and the louder and more vigorous the command the better the thing is that you are on to. Hounds can practice their version of “no” only when in the presence of grooming implements such as the nail clipper or walking control devices such as the gentle leader.

Stay: “Stay,” like “no” is a command of encouragement: that is, if you don’t stay where you are you are on the verge of finding something or doing something that possesses exceptional entertainment value—such as presenting your posterior to the camera instead of your face. Conversely, if you do stay, something unpleasant is likely to ensue (see come). “Stay” can be successfully practiced when it is time to leave the park or when sleeping the wide way across a bed or when hogging the kitchen floor.

Drop It: “Drop It” is another command of encouragement as it is self evident that if your human wants you to drop it dropping it is manifestly not in your best interest. “Drop it” really means, “swallow fast” or “run away now.” Hounds may want to practice “drop it” however when that piece of horse poop that they were about to ingest turns out disappointingly to be a rock or when a pill is inserted into their mouth.

Anyway, needless to say I had a good time demonstrating my mastery of these commands over the holiday week and was suitably rewarded. I was given a nice large bear in a Santa Hat on Christmas Day and on Tuesday, my first afternoon back with Elizabeth while Maria was at work, she gave me a large red and green Christmas tortoise. And as they say, no good deed goes unpunished as it turns out that this tortoise makes the loudest most hideous noise—like something being killed! It’s fabulous and had Elizabeth reaching for the aspirin and fearing a visit from concerned neighbors in no time flat. And although my usual modus operandi with stuffed toys is to eviscerate and extract the squeaker I have no intention of doing so with my tortoise.

And on Wednesday my French bulldog puppy Pluto joined me at Elizabeth’s where I supervised the little tyke’s activities under Elizabeth’s eagle eye. He is a chip off the old block and demonstrated this when, in spite of not being overly interested in his own kibble, tried to eat mine. I understood the principle perfectly but eating that stuff voluntarily and without tasty add-ins was nothing short of heroic.

Anyway I think that wraps it up for this week. Holidays can be so stressful—all the petting, admiration and food can really make one yearn for some peace and quiet. But then there is that tortoise. (My New Year’s resolutions: play with the tortoise when Elizabeth is on the phone, play with the tortoise if Elizabeth tries to take a nap, play with the tortoise when Elizabeth sits at the computer, play with the tortoise when Elizabeth wants to watch TV, play with the tortoise when Elizabeth tries to have a relaxing lunch…)

Happy New Year To Everyone,

Wimsey (von Trapp)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #242

Entry #242

December 23, 2011

Hello Everyone, it’s me Santa Wimsey (not) coming to you from the Upper West Side of Manhattan where, Santa hat not withstanding, I am expecting to be the recipient, rather than the bestower of some Christmas cheer. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have bought me some gifts and are also busy discussing the best time to buy me a cup of Grom gelato to help get me in a holiday frame of mind. Nothing quite says Christmas like spoon-feeding a Hound a cup of expensive, Italian gelato.

Pity it won’t help them in the least when it comes to me towing them where I want to go, which in any season is generally some place that I am not supposed to be or else somewhere that there is food that I am not supposed to have. But really feeding me my favorite gelato is just recompense for two weeks worth of making me wear silly hats and a festive ruff. I don’t think anyone would trust a Hound cum reindeer to pull a sled lest they end up treeing a raccoon in it or trust a Hound cum elf or Santa to actually give away toys—at least not without substantial modification.

In any case, in the spirit of the season I once again put in an appearance at the Columbus Circle Christmas market where my imposing presence and loud voice always attract a considerable amount of attention. I was even recognized by one of the vendors owing to the regularity of my annual visits and he was all “Oh look! It’s the Christmas Bloodhound!” which was very gratifying to both my humans and myself. (At least he didn’t say “Oh, no! It’s him again). Nevertheless I was still not allowed to shop in his stall.

This yuletide excursion, as is common with many of my excursions, is fraught with peril and hard work—managing leash and camera whilst preventing me from messing with merchandise or flinging drool and warning those wishing to pet me of the hazards of becoming quickly covered in spit. And that is without the distraction of talking to the multitudes who want to hear all about me-especially about how it is possible for my humans to survive in the middle of Manhattan with an extravagantly large creature such as myself who possesses a surfeit of “personality.”

Well this year in a break from tradition I will not be reprising my version of a “’Twas the Night before Christmas”—for those wishing to read or re-read it, please head over to the end of blog post #194. In addition to “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” this is a season that has also proved inspirational to composers, artists, writers and of course the folks in Hollywood. But if a Hound had been in charge of writing Christmas movies, things would have been very different:

All I Want for Christmas: instead of being a touching tale of how two children reunite their estranged parents it would be a more transactional tale of how two children reunite their estranged parents in exchange for FAO Schwarz and Petco credit cards with their names on them and for a Hound who really does want everything for Christmas. And New Year’s. And President’s Day…

Babes in Toyland: Instead of being about apprentice toymakers the film would be about apprentice Hound puppies left unattended for an afternoon.

Bad Santa: Instead of being about a con man planning to rob a store on Christmas it would be about a Hound in a Santa hat who sits in people’s laps and robs them of their time, possessions and bank accounts. But unlike con men, he doesn’t go to jail; he just goes to the sofa.

A Christmas Carol: When the ghost of Jacob Marley appears Hound Scrooge becomes intensely interested in seeing if he is edible; when the ghosts of

Christmas Past, Present and Future arrive the Hound pays no attention to what they are saying and just bays at them because he’s bored and they are not giving him anything to play with. He then eats the turkey that he was supposed to give to Tiny Tim.

Christmas in Connecticut (nb: this is Elizabeth’s favorite Christmas movie—something about having a similar level of domestic skills as the heroine):In the Hound-written version the domestically challenged woman who pretends to be like Martha Stewart for her housekeeping column and then must pretend to marry a wealthy and obnoxious architect so she can entertain a returning GI and her boss at Christmas in a Connecticut house, would convince the architect to hand over the deed to the house because she is so cute, then kick him out and, having stolen the GI from his fiancé, would spend Christmas in the kitchen with her Hungarian Uncle Felix eating Hungarian delicacies.

Elf: Instead of being about a human who thinks he is an elf and searches for his family in New York it would be about a human who thinks he is a Hound and applies Houndly principles to end up being the first head of Goldman Sachs that everyone loves in spite of the fact that he steals things and doesn’t care about them.

Holiday Inn: Instead of being about singer who turns an economically infeasible isolated farm into an even more economically infeasible isolated inn that is only open on holidays, he turns it into a holiday boarding kennel for Hounds whose New York City owners are so desperate to get rid of their Hounds over the holidays that they pay exorbitant fees.

Plus he discovers the Hounds are unexpectedly imbued with musical talents that inspire him to write and release America’s first multi-species single, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas That Stays White.”

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Instead of being a fantasy about a Grinch who thinks he can steal Christmas by stealing the presents the Hound version is a more realistic film about a Grinch who knows he can steal Christmas by stealing the presents. In the end the Grinch is not sure what was more fun—the presents part or the stealing part. Consequently he has a wonderful Christmas whilst the residents of Whoville are forced to wait for the after Christmas sales.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: Instead of being about a little boy who sees his mother kissing his father in a Santa suit and tries to be naughty to drive Santa away, the Hound version is about a little boy who sees his mother kissing Santa Claus and is excited about all the extra presents his mother’s activities are going to generate for him.

White Christmas: In the original version two old army buddies in the entertainment business conspire to help their former commanding officer save an old inn into which he has sunk his life savings. Along the way they fall for two sisters with ensuing romantic complications. In the Hound version, the old army buddies tear down the inn and build a strip mall which makes them all rich because of the big business it does at Christmas. The film ends with a touching scene of the three men and their 19 year old model girlfriends watching the snow fall over the strip mall. White Christmases are very good for business.

Miracle on 34th Street: Instead of being a heartwarming story about a delusional fellow who thinks he is Santa Claus and the little girl who believes him the Hound version is about a Hound who believes that he is well behaved and the delusional woman who believes in him.After a walk down 34th Street at Christmas time results in the Hound being hauled into court for spitting in public, disturbing the peace and stealing Christmas presents from people’s shopping bags the case is dismissed because no one will testify against him because he’s so cute. The Hound’s human prefers to believe that the case was dismissed because her Hound is so well behaved and buys him a stuffed pink pig to celebrate.

The Nutcracker: Instead of being about a little girl who dreams that her nutcracker has turned into a handsome prince who whisks her off to the Land of the Sweets presided over by the Sugar Plum Fairy the Hound version is about a little girl who dreams that her nutcracker has turned into a handsome Hound who whisks her off to the Land of The Organ Meats presided over by the Chicken Liver Fairy. She swoons after witnessing the magnificent Waltz of the Gizzards and wakes up in her bed covered in mysterious slimy goo.

It’s a Wonderful Life: In the original version, rather than getting on a train to see the world George Baily stays in Bedford Falls and repeatedly sacrifices his ambition for the sake of others. Big messes ensue. An angel tries to make him feel better by trying to convince him that he’s really had a wonderful life. In the Hound version, George Baily goes off to see the world and has a great time. And he doesn’t need an angel to convince him that he actually has had a wonderful life—the glass of Cristal he’s holding works just fine.

Well you get the idea. In other Christmas related activities, I dropped by the vet’s office sporting my red and green antlers to wish the staff, amongst whom I spend so much time and my humans so much money, a Merry Christmas. Christmas miracles do occur—no one stuck a finger up my bottom. I accepted a cookie from them to mark the occasion.

And this year we all have something special to celebrate around here—my human Maria is finally going back to work, at least temporarily, after a lengthy, economic-induced hiatus. This means that Elizabeth will once again be doing my midday walks and I will get to hang out in her apartment and disrupt her activities (well maybe not all of us are celebrating). And as an added bonus my puppy Pluto might come over from time to time to keep me company.

Of course between the stink and the drool he might need a bath before he goes home, but it’s a small price to pay for learning from the master about how to get what one wants in life-- although Pluto is quite precocious in that way. He looks a determined little chap, doesn’t he?

Anyway, we here in Wimsey World wish you all the best for the season’s holidays. I have already been given one of my gifts (the pink pig) and am awaiting the others. But one way or another Santa comes every day for me, just a bit more so at this time of year to make up for the hats.

Until next time,

Wimsey, keeping Santa in business one present at a time