Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #262

Entry #262
May 26, 2012

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey, coming to you from Fleet Week filled Manhattan’s   Upper West Side where tall ships and Navy craft have been plying the Hudson River and offering a strong deterrent to invasion by New York’s historic enemy, New Jersey.  My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth can rest easy with the might of the U.S. military protecting them from invasion by the big hair and bigger jewelry on the other side of the river (I too have big hair but since it ends up all over the clothes, furniture and rugs of my humans it is not as offensive as the New Jersey kind—except perhaps when Elizabeth forgets to vacuum the rug before she does yoga and ends up looking like a yeti).

In spite of the revolting weather—humid and thunderstormy—New York is very much en fĂȘte—it’s hard to see but there is a Navy ship in the background and the decks were lined with sailors in spotless white. If they visit the Boat Basin CafĂ© or Pier One or any of my other watering cum drooling holes let’s hope those uniforms are Scotch Guarded—warm humid weather brings forth the finest from my flews.

But I always look forward to meeting and greeting our service men and women and they are always attracted to me because I look like a dog that should be useful in lots of important ways. Except that I’m not. Unless you define useful as humiliating humans and appropriating their stuff.

But we bloodhounds were not always such lilies of the field—we have been renown through history for finding things:

Prehistoric times: Bloodhounds find game. Humans chase game. Humans kill game. Humans transport game to campsite. Humans cook game. Bloodhounds find game.

Ancient Rome: Man loses toga. Bloodhound finds toga. Man must buy new toga.

Medieval Times: Peasant is proud owner of root vegetable garden.  Bloodhound finds root vegetable garden. Peasant is proud owner of holes.

Renaissance:  Florentine nobleman seeks his true love in garden maze.  Florentine nobleman uses his bloodhound to find his true love in garden maze. Florentine Noblewoman finds her true love in garden maze. It’s not the Florentine nobleman.

American Revolution:  Thomas Jefferson writes Declaration of Independence. Bloodhound finds Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson re-writes Declaration of Independence. Hound inspires reference to inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Or tasty parchment.

Modern Times: with game now found in the supermarket and true loves on the Internet modern bloodhounds learn to find new things:

Food left on counters,

Food left in garbage bins

Food residing on dinner plates

Foods residing in refrigerators that have been left open a fraction too long

The best spot on the couch

The best spot on the bed

The best spot on people’s laps (generally the ones on top of the newspapers)

Electronic devices that you’ve tried to hide

Dirty laundry, (particularly socks and underwear)

Unopened mail (preferably those containing checks)

Plastic water bottles (preferably those that people are still drinking from)
Books (preferably unread)

Horse poop

Raccoon poop

Poop of other animals

Ways to go under, around or through inconvenient barriers such as fences, baby gates and doors

And of course, the #1 thing the modern bloodhound finds: new ways to annoy and inconvenience their humans!

Anyway, last Sunday I offered to take care of my ex-puppy Pluto (he is now almost a year old!) while his humans were off shamelessly engaging in non-Pluto related activities. He ought not to allow that, but he is still young and learning. 

Pluto is now enrolled in therapy dog class where he is honing his skills in getting people to pet him and feed him things in return for looking cute--- an activity at which I excel—but I hear that the teacher thinks Pluto resembles a frog.  Elizabeth assists in this class (trust me, the irony of her helping to train dogs is not lost on anyone who knows me—she’d have better luck training an actual frog) and I expect to receive regular updates on his progress.  

Maria has always thought that I myself would make an excellent therapy dog, except perhaps for the part about learning to obey obedience commands and not drooling on the patients or investigating all the interesting smells in the hospital room or baying loudly when I get bored.  But other than that, who would not want to be immobilized in a hospital bed and see (and smell) me looming over their pillow?

But the point is moot as after much analysis (and tearing out of the hair) Elizabeth has determined that I do not make the connection between a proffered treat and a desired behavior. This apparently makes training difficult. And then she realized that even if, in an unexpected burst of brilliance, I were to make the connection, I wouldn’t offer the behavior anyway because I generally object on principle to doing anything that humans want me to do.   It’s a slippery slope from “give me your paw” to “give me your paw and let me cut your nails (a feat, I am proud to say, has never been accomplished without the unfair use of a potent anesthetic).

Anyway, Sunday was a busy day all around—we ran into the AIDS Walk in Central Park and anywhere there are groups of people there are groups of people petting me, which adds to the enjoyment.  Especially mine.  Not that people didn’t admire Pluto also but he is such a little fellow that one has to bend all the way down to give him a scratch and poking people in the ankles is not as effective a way of getting their attention as poking them in the crotch. 

And we met one of my police officer buddies who I have not seen in some time—I used to live down the street from the 20th Precinct and would regularly attempt to make loud and unauthorized forays into the station which amused the officers if not the human being dragged at the other end of the leash.

Well, eventually we all repaired to the small backyard that Maria shares with the adjacent apartment.  Now this yard is filled with the accumulated stuff of multiple previous tenants and Pluto proved adept at diving into vegetation and bringing out an assortment of rusted cans, rotting Frisbees and derelict containers.  Also the odd cat toy.  Personally I was hoping he’d eventually pop out with the cat, but no such luck.  Of course there was a bit of a scare when we both plunged into some ivy and the humans feared that perhaps we had gotten hold of a rat, deceased or otherwise. I didn’t know my humans move so fast. I imagine it would have been hard to explain to Pluto’s humans why he had bits of rat stuck to his coat.  But it was a false alarm, although the humans weren’t too keen to find out exactly what is was that had attracted our interest. There is now a plan afoot to try to clean up the backyard this weekend and I hope to be instrumental in the process-- I can carry more things in my mouth that I am not supposed to have than Pluto.

But I am really looking forward to another aspect of the weekend; someone gave Maria a small barbecue grill and my humans are all excited about using it. Now the first order of barbecue business was a lengthy discussion as to whether I would prefer barbecued salmon, barbecued chicken or the traditional hamburger. But then the ladies realized that barbecuing is right up there with driving cars and pumping gas in the annals of things that New Yorkers don’t know how to do. So they bought a book.  Really. (Somehow I don’t think they would have survived very long in prehistoric, or at least in pre-pizza delivery times).

So having acquired a book—the title of which should be Barbecuing for People with Evolutionarily Unfit Genes—the next obvious thing was to acquire appropriate barbecuing utensils. Unfortunately when Maria ordered the deluxe barbecue kit from Amazon she didn’t pay too much attention to the details. What arrived was a barbecue set whose extravagant dimensions are more suited to Goliath grilling a cow or two after a hard day bashing the Israelites than to a couple of urbanites barbecuing for their Hound on a dainty mini- grill.  These are some serious barbecue implements. Wimsey size.

In any case, this will be the first barbecue that I’ve participated in to which I’ve actually been invited! (I am a well known “surprise guest” at picnics all over Central Park).  And the good thing about Maria’s culinary experiments is that they have a habit of ending up in my food bowl.  Of course the weather is not expected to be very good—we seem to have skipped a season and catapulted from the cool 60s to the humid 80s with its attendant chance of rain and thunderstorms—but I am always optimistic that the meteorologists know as much about the upcoming weather as I know about winning obedience titles.

Well I think I will leave it there.  Hope you all enjoy the weekend. I know I will—if I don’t like the food those plastic handles on the barbecue kit look pretty tasty.

Until next time,

Wimsey, The Finder

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #261

Entry #261
May 18, 2012

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where we seem to be in an intermittent time warp getting showers meant for April and then heat meant for June.  This virtually guarantees that my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are wearing the wrong clothing at the wrong time which pleases me greatly as they have things to complain about that aren’t me.

It’s been a very quiet week around here and as you can see from the pictures, I am being forced to wear the Heinous Gentle Leader.  The theory is that me towing from my snout will put less pressure on my injured front leg than from my harness.  I think this is a stupid theory (as are most of my humans’ ideas) but not every species is gifted with the pointy-head and enormous brainpower of the Hound.  Consequently much of the week has been spent loafing around and snack cadging (if cadging is the word for sticking my large, wet nose into Elizabeth’s pre-walk snack) and getting my humans to offer compensatory activities to my short walks—like testing the healing properties of a nice large cup of Grom Gelato.  It makes all of us feel better. But especially me. And of course there is simply no question of a bath even though my customary odor is back with a vengeance necessitating the fierce wielding of the Febreze.

But my gimpy leg and anal glands are not the only sources of frustration around here. My humans have become engrossed in Henry Lewis Gates’ new TV show, Finding Your Roots, and Elizabeth has agreed to be the guinea pig to get her DNA tested at 23 and Me, the service that they use on the show. Maria would like to do it too, but as the origins of her Hungarian heritage are somewhat mysterious, she is afraid that everything will come back stamped “Attila the Hun”--someone she thinks might not be the nicest guy to be descended from. I have tried to comfort her with the idea that she might be related to Genghis Khan instead (perhaps the source of her excellent cheekbones) but that doesn’t seem to have provided her with any solace.

Well at the moment everyone’s ancestry is a moot point because after weeks of waiting and Elizabeth hoping that she is related to all kinds of famous historical figures, the company told her that the DNA content of her spit was insufficiently high and that she will have to start the process all over again (including mailing the sample from New Jersey because it is illegal in New York State).  Now I am sure that were I to provide the spit sample there would be no difficulties at all with the concentration of anything, including, mud, grass, horse poop and the contents of the garbage bin. And naturally there would no question of my ability to fully fill up the test tube with my splendid slime. So I think she should submit my sample instead:

23 and Me Report of Hound DNA

Ancestry and Migration Patterns

Hounds originated in Africa where they attached themselves to the small emergent human population when they realized that cadging, begging and stealing required less energy and resulted in more meaty calories than actual hunting. Nevertheless they did enjoy hunting in the company of humans because they found it hugely entertaining that they could lead the humans in any direction they chose because humans apparently have a non-working olfactory apparatus. Thus began the long tradition of humans following Hounds and Hounds going exactly where they wanted to go.

Natural selection dictated that the cutest and sneakiest Hounds obtained the most food and therefore produced the most offspring. Consequently the Hound gene pool became significantly enriched for an irresistibly cute face coupled to a lightening fast mouth and   rapid foot speed to enable a clean getaway. Other prominent gene variants in this sample control an innocent expression and a total lack of guilt.  The Hound may tuck its tail for many reasons but none of them involve displeasing a human.

Hounds followed the migration of their meal tickets north and east into the areas of today’s Middle East where they seem to have stopped migrating, most likely because the food and climate agreed with them.  Here they were prized among potentates and pashas due to the prowess of their noses and the adorableness of their miens.  Seeing that they appeared to be valuable, and in accordance with the general principle of pillaging, a group of Hounds were snatched by some French knights who happened to be invading the area at the time.  Not knowing exactly what these loud, smelly and obstinate animals were good for the knights generously donated (or foisted, depending on your point of view) them to the monks of the Abbey of St. Hubert in what is today Belgium and what was then a Frankish region. 

Here their noses were selectively bred to achieve an acme of sensitivity heretofore unknown in Christendom, but sadly the monks were not able to do anything about the smell, the noise and the attitude. These appeared to be genes closely linked to those controlling the excellent sense of smell. Consequently the savvy monks chose to exploit the principle that everyone wants what they can’t have and they limited the supply of these Hounds and restricted their ownership to royalty and the highest ranks of the nobility. This created a huge demand for something that no one would actually want if they thought about it. Thus the Hounds were responsible for the first successful marketing campaign in history and the monks went on to establish a successful ear plug business and a chain of wash-a dog and dog training franchises amongst the other monastic orders.

From here the Hounds were brought to England by William the Conqueror and thence to the New World.  As societies became less feudal and more democratic the Hound spread the ideals of the Enlightenment throughout Europe and the Americas by giving everyone an equal opportunity to be annoyed, aggravated and smelly.

Susceptibility to Disease

The sample indicates that the Hound is subject to ailments whose number is too large to fully quantify as some statistical models suggest that it approaches infinity.  However all ailments share certain salient features:

 1) Their diagnosis is non-obvious and requires frequent vet visits and the use of expensive and often obscure diagnostic tests;

2) Once the diagnosis is established the treatment is lengthy and requires the administration of large doses of expensive medications that humans will invariably find stuck behind a couch cushion.  They will also require the frequent application of costly creams, ointments, poultices and compresses to which the Hound will strenuously object and who will have to be sat upon by someone who outweighs him (although such humans are generally not easy to find and not usually enthusiastic about sitting on a smelly, drool-producing and non-cooperative Hound) and fed copious quantities of turkey;

3) Numerous medical specialists will need to be consulted throughout the process;

4) The bill for the ailment can be estimated as being equal to the annual salary of one unindicted Goldman Sachs managing director;

5) When the Hound has finally recovered he will go back to being his normal self whereupon the magnitude of his humans’ bar tab will be equal to the vet bill.

Reactions to Drugs

The Hound is very sensitive to most drugs but prone to reactions very uncommon in other types of dogs. Inexpensive antibiotics will make him ill but those costing more money will work just fine.  Common treatments will be ineffective but unusual ones, especially those requiring expensive drugs or procedures will be highly effective. Small pills that must be given once a day on an empty stomach are much less effective than large pills that must be given multiple times a day on a full stomach. Drugs that can conveniently be injected every two weeks must be avoided as they disagree with the Hound’s delicate constitution.  A small amount of sedation makes the Hound lively. A slightly larger amount of sedation makes the Hound comatose. No matter how much the humans plead, the vet will not sell them the larger amount of sedation.

Well you get the idea.  But the week hasn’t been a total waste. It was a beautiful evening and I ran into Pluto my French bulldog buddy and we had a wonderful time playing Hound soccer with a tennis ball that I found. The rules of Hound soccer dictate that when the opponent is in possession of the ball that he be chased and bayed at furiously until he relinquishes possession.  Failure to relinquish possession results in the Hound throwing himself of the ground and baying even louder, preferably until people start screaming at him through their windows. Also the rules of Hound soccer require that the Hound totally forget about his sore leg and run like a maniac—until later when he remembers his sore leg and demands a healing cup of gelato.

Well, that’s it for this week.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a marvel of genetic engineering


Friday, May 11, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #260

Entry #260
May 11, 2012

Hello everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from the Upper West Side of Manhattan where chilly weather and cool Hounds abound.  Now you will notice that this week the usual cornucopia of magnificent photos of me are a bit lacking and that most of the pictures are cityscapes as opposed to parkscapes (technically they are all Houndscapes but like any precious and stunning jewel I like the setting to reflect the quality of its star). Now this paucity of pictures occurred for a couple of reasons: first, during Sundays’ park perambulation, the traditional site of many of my weekly photos, someone, (naming no names but it was my human Maria’s friend Elizabeth), didn’t know where the low battery icon was on her new camera and poof, just like that, endless photo ops of me were lost.  Reminds me of the perpetual lament of Elizabeth’s riding teacher—“how can someone so smart be so stupid” which is very much akin to my humans’ lament  “how can a dog so stupid be so smart” and its corollary, “how can a dog so cute be so evil.” But it’s all in a day’s work for a bewitching Hound like myself.

Anyway, to add insult to photographic injury, my front leg is still a bit lame, which in addition to necessitating copious quantities of turkey-laden ascripton and tramadol, also mandated “short walks”—the short Wimsey walk being defined as those under and hour and only achieved with great struggle and determination on the part of my humans.  Paradoxically, being a bit hobbly does not mean that I do not tow furiously in the direction of Central Park, which frequently necessitates the application of the Heinous Gentle Leader and a strong set of biceps.  I also appear to have a renewed and relentless determination to play with passing dogs on my morning walk, probably because this too is now a forbidden activity. And of course my ability to separate mounds of turkey from hidden pills is legendary—nothing breaks the human spirit quite so much as the sight of me munching a substantial wad of turkey only to have a pill drop out of my mouth at the end of it.  My humans are no doubt supporting an entire turkey farm upstate. 

 I digress-- it’s just that I can’t resist the opportunity to brag about my annoying injury time out antics which are separate, though nonetheless equal, from the non-injury time out variety.  (Did I mention how I like to come flying off of Maria’s high bed onto the hard floor? Sadly this was deemed inimical to my recovery and I have been banned from the bedroom when unsupervised). Also satisfying is that my humans feel guilty about the invectives they would like to hurl at my head (along with assorted household objects) when I am in a less robust state of health.  And then there is the endless wailing refrain “Why are you trying to do that Wimsey when your leg is injured?!” But I think the fact that there is a wailing refrain attached to my activities answers the question nicely.

Anyway, as everyone was so busy with the coddling and supervising of me and as Central Park was off limits for this week, the pictures are fewer in number and reflect my city street walks. Except those taken in Riverside Park which is across the street from Elizabeth’s apartment where its very proximity and convenience virtually assures that I don’t want to go there unless under duress. I much prefer the Cat Hospital which is also pretty close so we swung by there for a visit with our friend Dr. Julie Horton and I got to deeply inhale the delicious air that was redolent of cat.  I keep hoping for a visit to the Squirrel Hospital but so far no luck.

But sadly my injury (or more accurately my flying bed re-injury) did not prevent the ladies from bathing me Saturday night.  I mean what else is there to do on a Saturday night in New York City except bathe the dog?

But one whiff of me would have answered that question.  Apparently I was so smelly that it was necessary to soap me up and wash me twice-- which although it meant double the amount of turkey I was fed while all this washing was taking place it, was annoying nonetheless.  Consequently, I assumed an injured and haughty manner whilst partaking of my scrambled eggs and kibble dinner and whilst condescending to engage in a postprandial chew on a newly presented giant bully stick.  Personally I think that washing me is just an excuse for the ladies to consume caipirinhas, the bath recovery cocktail of choice, and to pretend that they are in Rio or in some other place where I am not.

And of course my post bath clean up is best done while under the anesthetizing influence of a cocktail (or several).  Although I talk about drool quite a bit, it is a little appreciated fact that drool, although nominally a liquid, is not soluble in water.  This leads to strings of the stuff clogging up the hair trap and making a fine addition to the large fistfuls of hair that Elizabeth (who is the traditional Wimsey Bath Nigh hostess) has to clean out of the tub.  Thus, I especially like it when passing humans, taking note of my size, stink and drool flinging prowess comment, “Well at least he has short hair and doesn’t shed.”  Au contraire mon ami.

But I am happy to report that the double wash did nothing to impede the return of my natural fragrance which is once again fully perfuming the air of my humans’ abodes. The rapid return of the stink never fails to amaze my humans. So much effort for so little result. But then again this is the species that wants to mine asteroids.

Anyway, city walks mean city pet shops and I dragged Elizabeth around for a scenic tour of them all this week.  This is me at Petland on West 72nd street where I obtained a few snacks whilst purchasing a squeaky hamburger to add to my burgeoning loud and obnoxious squeaky stuffed toy collection. Even Maria was impressed with the volume of the squeaky hamburger when I squeaked it in her face by way of a greeting.  So were the people on the other end of Elizabeth’s telephone calls.

And in other news this week, Elizabeth finally ran out of stuff to buy herself on the Internet and was forced to go shopping at Mr. Chewy’s and buy me a fairly enormous box of assorted snacks (sales resistance not being her strong point) from their excellent selection of Wimsey Worthy treats. The first snack we are trying is called Nuzzles but they should probably be called Pokes, since that is what I do to the treat pouch when they are in residence.  They are super crunchy which I like and which gives my humans more time to do whatever it is they are trying to distract me from when they gave me the treat in the first place.  The Nuzzles box says they are for fussy pups—a big improvement over the ones that say they are for good dogs. I’d starve if that were the case. I think there should be more snacks advertised for bratty, disobedient and entitled Hounds like me:

Wimsey’s Dog Treat Slogans 

Got a bad dog? We’ve got a good treat.

That pork chop he stole needs a dessert.

The treat to have when you are both having more than one.

Dog won’t sit? Give him our treat. He still won’t sit but at least it will distract him from whatever else he was about to do.

Our treat—a new way to indulge your dog when you are running out of ideas.

Need an incentive to vacuum? Our treats are guaranteed to produce drool-encrusted crumbs all over the carpet.

Don’t like snacking in bed?  Too bad. Your dog does.

Hoping to keep your dog’s nose off your dinner plate? Feed him our treat instead (X-large box perfect for long dinner parties)!

Hound Dog Special: Buy two boxes of treats get one bottle of gin!

Anyway, since I’ve been laid up a bit I’ve had more time to read the newspapers which are always so informative.  Like the bank that managed to lose $2 billion (oops) and the scientists who are using MRIs machines to find out what dogs think.  Clearly these dogs are not Hounds since humans are never in doubt about what we think.
What Does My Hound Think When….

What does my Hound think when he looks at me: (Sucker. Got any food?)

What does my Hound think when he kisses me (Where’s the rest of that chicken parmesan sandwich).

What does my Hound think when he climbs into my lap (Heated pillow).

What does my Hound think when he chews up my new shoes (You can always tell fine Italian leather).

Does my Hound feel guilty when I yell at him for chewing up my new shoes (Nope).

What does my Hound think when he cuddles with me in bed (Move over. All the way over. Like on the floor over).

What does my Hound think when we watch TV (That remote looks tasty).

What does my Hound think when I leave him alone (While the cat’s away the Hound is going to eat the couch).

What does my Hound think when he smells another dog’s butt (Is he getting better food than I am?).

What does my Hound think when he watches The Dog Whisperer (Gee, how come there are no Hounds on that show?)

What does my Hound think when he steals things (Possession in 10/10ths of the law).

What does my Hound think when I say “drop it” (Pigs will fly).

What does my Hound think when I come home from work (Mine).

What does my Hound think when I eat dinner (Also mine).

What does my Hound think when he meets some one who is afraid of him (Wanna hear how loud I can bay?)

What does my Hound think when he flings drool on someone (Drool is the new black).

What does my Hound think when I reach for the Valium (Mission accomplished).

Well you get the idea. And as I’ve said I have exceptional communications skills and my humans are absolutely always know what I am thinking. They just don’t like what I am thinking.  But that’s their problem. Most things are.

I will leave it there for this week—it’s time to engage in some snack sharing before my next walk.  And here’s what I am thinking--can I make more of a mess eating yoghurt or popcorn?

Until next time,

Wimsey, The Thinker