Friday, May 24, 2013

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #306

Entry #306
May 24, 2013

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here coming to you from the Upper West Side of Manhattan where it has been a crazy week weather-wise—one day it’s August and then the next day it’s March. But fortunately every day is make my humans crazy day.  The hapless humans in question are my primary human Maria and her friend Elizabeth with whom I have many indoor and outdoor adventures when I stay with her during the day (or as I like to think of them, Hound Nanny #1 and Hound Nanny #2).  For instance, the other day when I was carrying out one of my frequent merchandise inspections at Unleashed, my favorite pet shop, one of the clerks attempted to feed me a rather large oatmeal cookie.  I promptly spat it out until Elizabeth helpfully informed her that I prefer my larger cookies broken in two before I consume them. It’s important for a Hound to be surrounded by those who share his mission in life—his personal satisfaction and comfort.

So the week got off to a fine start on Sunday—there was a cold, steady downpour during our Sunday afternoon expedition in Central Park that I found especially conducive to taking a nice long walk and my humans found especially conducive to hating me.  It was all “Why can’t Wimsey be like a normal dog and not want stay out in the rain,” but they should know better than to use the word normal and me in the same sentence. They got thoroughly soaked, as a Wimsey walk is no match for foul weather gear of any kind.   But I enjoyed myself.

And as an added bonus, Elizabeth’s Blackberry got wet and became inoperable, which sent her scurrying to the store for the pricey, new Z10 model.  She was due to replace her old Blackberry anyway so I was deeply offended that she omitted to thank me for accelerating the process.  Elizabeth also carries an Android phone (both my ladies are extremely fond of gadgets. As am I) which is a pity since she seldom gets to look at either one of them during our long afternoon walks together.  The main problem is that she keeps one phone clipped to my treat pouch and the other phone actually in my treat pouch so any time she reaches for a phone I call a halt to the proceedings and demand to be immediately snacked.  If she persists in trying to access her phones, I feel a sudden urge to pull her someplace requiring immediate intervention.  The only exception I make is that I allow her to check her emails when we enter her building to determine if I have a package waiting at the front desk.   These frequently contain highly desirable items that I enjoy.

Keeping one’s humans out in inclement weather is one of the great Joys of Houndom. The only inclement weather that I do not like are thunderstorms and when these occur I find I have an urgent need to go home immediately and my human have an urgent need to keep four hands on the leash to stop me.   But between the hot weather, the intense rain, the thunderstorms, etc. we have very few pictures of your truly this week.  On the hot days I am pretty much either lying in the grass which is not all that visually interesting or attempting to roll in a cool mud puddle which requires some focused preventative measures and on the rainy days the lens becomes rather moister than is consistent with coherent images.  And then there is also the fact that Elizabeth is lazy about taking pictures.

Anyway, yesterday I was having a fine nap on the futon and I fell off onto the floor.  The sound brought Elizabeth running to make sure I was OK but I wouldn’t know since I was still asleep at the time.  It occurred to me that I have considerable expertise in the nap department and that perhaps I should share it for posterity.

This nap section is dedicated to my humans, one of whom generally insists on hogging the bed at night (Maria) and then can’t fall asleep because she is too busy trying to think up new ways to get me to let her administer my eye ointment or to give me my liquid anti-inflammatory medication.  My other human (Elizabeth) has to take Ambien  when I come for a sleepover and wakes up at the merest hint in the middle of the night of some modest ear flapping or water slurping.

Wimsey’s The Art of the Nap

Location, location location! :  The first thing to do to achieve a successful nap is to carefully choose a location.  Monopolizing the entire length of the couch is a classic but don’t ignore the other pieces of furniture in which humans like to sit, especially those with good sight lines to the TV.  Also not to be ignored (and one of my personal favorites) is stretching out the length of the couch on the floor and using its bottom as a back support. While not as obvious as napping on the couch itself, it makes the couch equally unusable for humans as there is no room for their feet.  Also one can nap right behind the computer chair so that its occupant has to squeeze tightly against the desk should they want to get up.

Another fine napping idea is to identify a strategic corridor between rooms and to lie down in such a way so that everyone has to step over you.  This is a clever variation on stretching out in the middle of the kitchen during meal preparation times so that cooking resembles a game of Twister.  But be creative! Anything that your humans might need to access—like their iPad, their phones, the remote control, today’s newspaper, a coat, etc., make wonderful things upon which to lie.

The Sounds: Sounds are an extremely important part of a successful nap.  This can be anything from the classic deafening snore to dream induced noises such as bays, snorts, whines or squeaks.  Also do not neglect the sound that your (hopefully) long nails make on your napping surface as you run vigorously in your sleep.  Slapping and thumping one’s weighty tail is also a delightful way to ensure a lack of peace and quiet even while you are not actively pursuing an obviously disruptive activity.  A quieter, yet equally attention getting noise can be added by conducting a little pre-nap digging and rearranging of whatever surface you happen to be lying on.  This can be anything from making a mound of fine Frette linens and down duvets to leaving deep talon tracks in the oriental rug (this latter being one of my personal favorites because humans never expect you to dig up the rug any more than they expect you to eat the mail).

The Smell:  No primer on napping would be complete without a word about the unfettered effects that naps have on one’s digestive system.  For this reason it is always best to have eaten a fine meal before a nap, preferably one that includes some stinky foods such as cheese, sausage, liverwurst or horse poop. And I recommend positioning oneself to maximize your human’s olfactory appreciation of your efforts.

The Reposition:  Repositioning from time to time is extremely important for one’s orthopedic health and allows you and your humans to experience the nap in a variety of incarnations.  It is always best to begin repositioning with a satisfying scratch, preferably while grunting loudly and displaying one’s manly bits. Next it’s time for a firm head shake which results in loud ear flapping and the repositioning of a substantial quantity of drool from your flews to your human’s walls.  Having a refreshing and messy drink of water is essential to the process and as I am a very tidy Hound this also involves wiping my wet and drooly muzzle on a convenient pant leg or piece of upholstered furniture.  The reposition is also an opportunity to thwack a human with a paw for some reposition relaxation as well as to find a potentially more successful (or annoying, depending on your point of view) napping venue.

Above all, remember that the nap should be a relaxing experience. For you.

Well today is the start of the Memorial Day Weekend, although cold, windy and wet weather are generally not high on anyone’s list (except mine) for outdoor activities. There is the usual talk around here of cleaning up the back yard for a barbecue and also of giving me a bath, which I view as just an excuse for my humans to drink strong cocktails and consume caloric take out food.  It can’t possibly be otherwise since the stink removal only lasts a paltry 48 hours.

But Memorial Day is the start of the summer season and the summer season always puts me in mind of a phalanx of decorative humans lounging around in spotless white attire just waiting to be slimed by a festive Hound. And because I consider myself the Martha Stewart of Hounds I offer up three chapters from my upcoming summer book:

Wimsey’s Guide To Gracious Summer Living

Wimsey’s Principles of Gracious Gardening

1. Dig holes to add visual interest to an otherwise boring expanse of lawn.
In addition to being immensely decorative, holes provide a cool place to nap on sunny days. Holes can also be transformed into refreshing mud baths on rainy days (NB: taking a dip in the pool or lounging on the lawn furniture after a mud bath is strongly recommended).

2. Do not neglect to prune the ornamental shrubs—too many (or any) branches and leaves can give your garden a messy appearance.

3. To fully display the magnificence of your ornamental shrubs consider displaying their root systems as well.

4. Chewed up fences will enhance the rustic feel of your garden.

5. Holes under the chewed up fences will encourage a wide variety of wildlife to share the enjoyment of your garden.

6. Do not forget to water the flowerbeds frequently.

7.Fertilize, fertiliz, fertilize.

Wimsey’s Gracious Things to do With a Lawn Chair

1.  Take a nap on it.

2. Remove the cushion and drag it to a more desirable location, such as a pile of muddy leaves and then take a nap on it.

3. Eat the cushion.

4. Eat whatever the cushion was on.

Wimsey’s Foolproof Gracious Guide to Successful Summer Barbecuing:

1.  Knock over the grill

2. Steal the food

3.  Hide

Well you get the idea.  Summer brings out the creative side of the Hound.  And the creative side of the Hound brings out the gin swilling side of the human.

I think I will leave it there for this week.  I hope everyone enjoys the weekend and regardless of what the weather is like, remember that although your Hound is always there to “entertain” you stuffing him full of hot dogs and hamburgers will make him a little less “entertaining.”  At least until he wakes up.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a Gracious Hound

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #305

Entry #305
May 18, 2013

Hello Everyone, Wimsey here, celebrating the Merry Month of May in the sylvan precincts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side where, although the temps have still been a bit chilly, the sun has been shining and it has begun to warm up.  So much so that my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have had to put the AC on a couple of times in their respective apartments to keep the indoor temp at a comfortably ambient level for yours truly.  As a rather generously proportioned canine my humans live in fear that I will overheat at the slightest rise in the thermometer and anyone who takes issue with this will be treated to Elizabeth’s long and boring treatise on the surface to volume ratios that cause we large mammals to retain heat and keep ourselves toasty.  Generally she trots out this lecture for the benefit of vocal and combative Manhattanites who are misguided as to the purpose of my summer cooling coat and yell rude things.  By the time she’s done setting them straight their eyes are glazed over but at least they are no longer angry about a dog wearing a coat in July.  She’s considering carrying thermal retention charts on her iPad to illustrate her subject more thoroughly but I think she should carry pictures of mastiffs, bullmastiffs, Great Danes, St. Bernards, shar-peis and all the other breeds for whom I have been mistaken instead. 

Anyarhoo, the week got off to a fine start on Sunday as Central Park was packed with people for Japan Day which I considered to be Wimsey Day (although every day is technically Wimsey Day) and my humans had to employ a variety of clever stratagems (and much turkey) to prevent me from invading the ramen tents  (mysteriously, all the paths that I wanted to walk down seemed to lead back to these tents).  And because the park was hosting a special event there were medical personnel in attendance and I managed to locate this ambulance and its EMTs for my personal perusal. There was much that looked like it required further investigation in the back of the ambulance (although sadly no injured human in need of health giving slobber) but I was about as successful with my ambulance invasion enterprise as I was at the ramen tents. Nevertheless, I managed to garner much admiration and scratching for my efforts.

And then when we were on our way out of the park (or more accurately, when my humans were on their way out of the park, I was on my way somewhere else entirely), this nice woman with a very fine looking basset Hound came running down the hill to ask if I was Wimsey. She had apparently started reading my blog years ago when investigating whether her move to New York from Georgia would suit her Basset Hound and has been keeping an eye out for me ever since.  Elizabeth tried to get a picture of her Hound and me but getting a picture of two Hounds together was more of a challenge than she had the patience for after an entire afternoon spent photographing my posterior and my profile.  It is always wonderful to meet my fans—especially when they have the effect of delaying my departure from the park.

But although Sunday was fun, Monday was even more entertaining.  At least for me. It had apparently been far too long since my last visit to the Blue Pearl Vet Clinic (formerly NY Vet Specialists—the folks who operated on me a few years ago and to whom I am taken to see specialist vets) so on Monday I went to see the neurologist. This time it was to ascertain whether a bone spur in my back is impinging on a nerve and making me stiff. So in the spirit of a diary within a diary, I present:

Monday at the Vet  With Wimsey

12:30 pm:  Elizabeth arrives at my apartment. I am napping on Maria’s bed and require that my reanimation involve the substantial rubbing of my underside.

12:40pm:  I am awake but have no intention of removing myself from the bed without sufficient inducement. Inducement arrives in the form of turkey and wheedling.

12:45pm: After a long and messy drink of water, I ascend the Tribute Couch and drip all over Elizabeth while she scratches me and sucks up by telling me what a good boy I am.  In return I magnanimously allow her to apply my eye ointment, clean my ears and brush my teeth.  Then I lift my head to indicate that it is time for the scratching between the flews portion of the programme.

12:55 pm: My collar and harness are presented but I have no intention of getting off the Tribute Couch until more tribute is forthcoming.  This time it is in the form of the magic words “Wimsey, do you want a cookie?”

1pm: After another drink of water, most of which has now been wiped on Elizabeth’s pants, we are out the door!  Just in time for another cookie.

1:10pm: Our appointment is for 2pm and the vet clinic is a 20-minute walk as the crow flies; it is, however, a 1-hour walk as the Hound perambulates.

1:30pm: I have decided that I must revisit the Time Warner Center and Columbus Circle and take a relaxing walk down Broadway and then on to 8th Avenue which is packed with charging people, honking cars and screaming kids-- all of whom make walking a giant, nosy Hound akin to playing an obstacle dodging video game. I could have walked through either Riverside Park or Central Park but why walk in serene greensward when one can charge inconveniently through the heart of a loud, throbbing city?

2:00pm: After a few more urban detours we arrive! Elizabeth has an extensive pre-exam discussion all about me with the vet tech.  This is very gratifying, although I am not crazy about being weighed and having my temperature taken. I find consolation in the immediate application of some turkey.

2:15pm Neurologist and his team arrive! Love this guy—I was taken to see him previously for mysterious jaw twitches.  Elizabeth confesses to him that like so many of my ailments, the jaw twitches miraculously vanished after my visit with him. After some preliminary examining  (and petting) team decides to escort me outside to watch me walk. I love walking with an entourage!  Team looks at Elizabeth funny and asks her what exactly my problem is. I am in fine fettle!

2:30pm:  Lots more touching and petting by team.  Everyone impressed by the state of my nails—middle ones worn down and outer ones like talons. When was the last time they were cut? Elizabeth mumbles, “uh, like never.” (Not quite true, they were slightly trimmed once many years ago when I was unfairly placed under anesthesia).

2:50pm: Elizabeth and team sit around and discuss ME. I have a lovely nap on the floor while everyone admires me and while potential options for expensive joint easing remedies are discussed. I am apparently neurologically normal and Elizabeth is apparently neurologically alarmist.

3:00pm: Elizabeth hands over credit card on my behalf (again) and I escort her to bathroom to supervise the interesting activities therein.

3:05pm:  We are out the door but instead of going straight home I find that I have an urgent need to explore 8th Avenue again.

3:15pm: Decide that it’s time to head over to the far west side and check out the John Jay College of Justice (whose sports teams have the bloodhound as a mascot) to see if I am recognized.
3:30pm: Decide that a nice walk in Riverside Park is in order after all.

4:00pm: Carry on at the Pier One Café looking for food.

4:30: Arrive at Elizabeth’s apartment at last!  Inventory my toy pile then stare at her to demand that she puts something other than kibble in my food bowl.

4:35pm:  Yam, turkey and pumpkin deemed acceptable.  I tuck in. Vet visits are hungry work!

4:40pm: Elizabeth wonders if it is too early for gin.

I wish every day could be Monday!  The rest of the week paled by comparison-- although I have been dropping by the Boat Basin quite a bit to snag a few of the large Milk Bones that they feed me there.  My humans find my Milk Bone enthusiasm deeply annoying since I have bags of organic, gourmet snacks at home that I routinely spit out.  And since the weather has been so fine, I quite enjoy parking myself in an adjacent field and watching the boats float down the Hudson whilst Elizabeth sits and watches me watching the boats float down the Hudson and thinks about all the other things that she should be doing instead.
Well I think I will stop there for this week.  But before I go I must apologize for the late blog post.  I was almost finished with it yesterday when Maria called and insisted that Elizabeth and I meet her in Central Park after work and then that we all go back to my apartment for Dean’s pizza—my favorite!  What with all that park perambulating and pizza mawing I’m afraid I went to sleep instead of finishing the post.  All this is by way of explaining that yesterday, when most of this was written, was May 17th and May 17th is both the anniversary of the birth and the death of the great Renaissance artist, Sandro Botticelli.  My tribute to him from my personal collection at The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art his below.

Until next time,

Wimsey, neurologically normal and driving humans neurologically insane

Friday, May 10, 2013

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #304

Entry #304
May 10, 2013

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey, coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where the parks have been packed in spite of the somewhat chilly spring that we are having.  And whereas this puts a damper of the number of water bottles that people are carrying and that I am stealing, it is still preferable to the hot weather that is to come and to the commencement of my dodging Hound sun avoidance walking techniques.
It’s been a quiet week around here so this will be a short post.  The most exciting thing that happened is that I have a fancy new Hurtta raincoat that both my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth managed to find fault with anyway.  They get no arguments from me—I am the antithesis of a clothes Hound—but this is the third raincoat that I possess, all with different types of issues, other than them being raincoats which is the primary issue for me.  But I do enjoy the sight of my wardrobe taking up an increasing number of pegs on the outwear wall and squishing Maria’s clothes into the corner.  Kind of like what I do to her life.
Well my spring obsession with the Boat Basin Café is in full swing and there are many days when I have insisted on visiting it twice.  For those of you who 1) don’t live in NY and 2) don’t live on the Upper West Side and 3) see no point in eating at an outdoor venue on the Hudson where at any moment your meal is liable to be snatched (or drooled upon) by one of the many canines who legally frequent the place, let me enlighten you as to why the Boat Basin is a highly desirable destination:

Things to do at the Boat Basin Café

Try to pee on all the potted plants

Try to pee on all the columns

Lie down and refuse to move until someone feeds you something

Lie down and refuse to move until one of your humans buys a beer and chugs it so that you can play with the plastic container

Take an olfactory survey of what everyone is eating

Bay at the other dogs

Sit on the stone bench and get scratched by patrons who love giant, slavering Hounds

Sit on the stone bench and terrorize patrons who are afraid of giant, slavering Hounds 

Trip the waiters on their way to deliver platters of burgers to the hungry diners

Sniff all the patrons hanging out at the bar and encourage snack sharing and ear scratching

Make people scream by slinging slobber on them (this is especially effective in the summer when ladies have lots of exposed skin)

Make women scream by investigating what is under their skirts with a wet, cold nose

Stretch out the wide way on the route from the bar to the terrace so that everyone has to step over you

Insist on it taking two humans to haul you out of there

The only negative thing about the Boat Basin Café is that I am actually permitted to be there.  Generally it is more enjoyable to be where I am not supposed to be and where no one wants me to be.  Especially my humans.

Well let’s see, in other news I have come over all itchy so I was unceremoniously plunked into the bathtub last night for a double wash medicated shampoo.  The directions require that the shampoo be left on the unfortunate canine for two 10-minute sessions which meant that the shampoo required two unfortunate humans to keep me in the tub for two 10 minute sessions.  This entailed massaging me and feeding me turkey in an unsuccessful attempt to make me forget that I am standing in a bathtub covered in medicated shampoo.  It also entailed checking the cell phone with increasing frequency hoping to move the digits along quicker (did I mention that my humans have to have a cell phone in the bathroom because I once locked them in?).  But at least Elizabeth had the decency to keep unplugging the hair trap so I didn’t have any of my Poseidon Adventure moments that make my bath time so exciting.
And of course, this being shedding season all that massaging had the effect of transforming Elizabeth’s white tiled bathroom (the ladies use hers because it is bigger) into a black and tan tiled hairy cave.  It required extra -strength cocktails to recover from this one, but a lovely meal was prepared for me and I managed to coax some subsequent pizza out of the jaws of my humans and into my receptive and capacious maw.  The relief of the bath being over, assisted by the application of adult beverages made my humans more than usually generous. 
And because Maria was having a repair man come over in in the morning and my presence was deemed inimical to the process or repairing anything, I got to spend the night with Elizabeth, which is always one of my favorite things to do and one of her least favorite things for me to do.  The amount of mess that I can create in a short space of time is legendary.  We will say nothing of the state of the bathroom but turn our attention instead to the huge, sticky glob of slobber mixed with some miscellaneous substance with which my slobber is frequently imbued that now decorates the mid section of her large flat screen TV.  Also her walls and her ceilings.  The floors are littered with stray bits of kibble, cookie crumbs and sharp pieces of the bone and connective tissue of a large ostrich leg.  And of course hair.  A lot of hair. And I hadn’t even been there 24 hours!  I also woke Elizabeth up from a deep, Ambien induced sleep at 4am by loudly flapping my ears—ear flapping it is a crucial element in my nap repositioning ritual-- and then an hour later as I cruised by her head to make sure that she was still breathing.  I also managed to consume an entire bowl of water during the night and to wipe the results all over her couch.  But she loves me anyway.  Or so she says after enough gin.

And to try to escape the stinky reality of life with a giant (although magnificent) Hound, Elizabeth has been reading those alphabet mysteries by Sue Grafton—A is For Alibi and so forth.  I think that I should have my own alphabet series:
Wimsey’s Hound Alphabet Series

A is for awesome
B is for bratty
C is for conniving
D is for devious
E is for entertaining
F is for something unprintable that I hear a lot
G is for gardening
H is for hilarious
I is for imaginative
J is for jumping
K is for kleptomaniac
L is for large and lovable
M is for “mine”
N is for “not yours”
O is for oppositional
P is for pee. A lot of pee
Q is for quiet (not)
R is for relentless
S is for stubborn
T is for turkey
U is for unmanageable
V is for vet bills
W wrinkles
X xtreme towing
Y is for yeasty
Z is for zippy

I think they would make excellent reading and even better eating.

Anyway, I think I will end it there for this week.  Until next time,
W is for Waterlogged Wimsey