Other Writing Index

Just How Thirsty Are You?

Late August in the city. Eighty-, ninety-degree temperatures and hazy, humid skies. Too little breeze. To much ozone.

Nevertheless, I will continue, as is my routine, to jog through Central Park, get a good sweat going, build up a mighty, even dangerous thirst, and then go stand in line at the water fountain in front of the reservoir and pose the age-old-question: do I want to drink from a water fountain immediately after its nozzle has been licked by a dog that is not my own?

And then, perhaps, I will turn to the nearest dog owner and ask the following: If I were in front of you in the water fountain line and licked the nozzle, would you want to take a drink? Maybe you saw me sneeze first. Or nibble a dead squirrel under a bush.

At this point the dog owner will yell at me, and dehydrated, I will head home.

Back home, I will telephone the city Parks Department, Mayor Giuliani, the North Shore Animal League, and several board-certified psychologists in order to determine, respectively, A) if it is legal for dogs to drink from the fountains in Central Park, B) if is nice for dogs to drink from the fountains in Central Park, C) if any animal rights organizations will bring suit were the city to ban dogs from drinking from the fountains in Central Park, and D) if dogs themselves would be in any way emotionally scarred if denied access to said fountains, an/or could dogs be trained to wait patiently for the water to fall into their mouths after it clears the spigot.

Then I will call Dr. Joyce Brothers in the hope that she will explain to me why people insist on having their dogs use the public water fountains when there is often a dog dish sitting right there and when they quench their own thirst from a water bottle they've been carrying all along but won't share with the dog.

I may even conduct a water fountain taste test to establish just what the drinking fountain protocol is. (All animals welcome to participate. No ringers, please.) For example, will people take a drink just after a guinea pig but not a ferret? Will they drink after a mangy Irish wolfhound but not a police horse?

Lastly, I will think about the voluminous hate mail this article will inspire: Dear Enemy of Dogs. Dear Person Who Wants to Let Dogs Die of Thirst.

But that's not what I want. I love dogs, and I don't begrudge them a drink on a hot day. Maybe you could let your dog drink from your hands instead?

I know, I know, that would kill the effect of that new antibacterial hand gel.