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December 21, 2006

One of the Great Moral Quandaries of Our Time


Let's say that you are struck with the need to relieve your bladder, as so many people are this time of year. You go to the bathroom, only to find the dog first in the active process of drinking from the toilet bowl, and then looking up at you as if to say "do you mind? I'm drinking here."

So: Do you use the toilet?

My answer: No, because a) we have more than the one bathroom, and b) pissing into the toilet the dog's been drinking out of, right after she's done having a swig, just kinda seems too desperately alpha male to me, you know? Maybe that's me.

Your thoughts? Clearly, this is an important question.

Posted by john at December 21, 2006 03:16 PM

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WizarDru | December 21, 2006 03:21 PM

Eye-bleach, John....eye-bleach. Why do you write things I can't UNREAD?

John Scalzi | December 21, 2006 03:26 PM

Oh, come on. It's not that bad.

Matt W | December 21, 2006 03:27 PM

One simple solution, keep the lid down when not in use.

Chang, who gets nothing done... | December 21, 2006 03:36 PM

I'd pee in it. I suspect the dog wouldn't know the difference. This is an animal that can lick itself in places fetishists dream of.

Our cat loves to drop in when we are engaged on the throne. And every chance he gets he has to hop on to the rim to look in. Weird. George likes to watch. Kind of like the Waste NSA.

Brett | December 21, 2006 03:44 PM

I think the real question is, do you wait for him to move his head out of the way. >:)

jason | December 21, 2006 03:45 PM

My friend's dog drinks from the toilet all the time--and it's the only toilet in the house. He just keeps it extra clean for the dog but otherwise doesn't think much about it. Canines bathe their hindquarters with their tongues, so it's unlikely they'd be too particular about you using the toilet before or after they've grabbed a quick swill (assuming you flushed if we're talking before the fact).

Joe Hass | December 21, 2006 03:45 PM

I'm with you, John. Even though the dog may not appreciate it, I think it earns you the tiniest bit of puppy karma.

Steve Buchheit - enjoying the view form the shoulders of giants | December 21, 2006 03:49 PM

So, just who is the alpha male in the house?

Chris | December 21, 2006 03:50 PM

I think what you do is go ahead and urinate in the toilet and then invite the dog to go ahead and drink (after you flush it of course, I am not that much of a jerk). If the dog drinks, then it has been clearly established that the DOG is the Alpha Male..unless you feel like matching him which I do not advise.

John Scalzi | December 21, 2006 03:50 PM

Steve Buchheit:

Well, I am, of course. I'm just so comfortable with my alpha male-ness that I don't have to make a big deal about it, you know?

Kate Nepveu | December 21, 2006 03:56 PM

John, aren't you the _only_ male in the house? Or am I mis-remembering the sexes of the dog and cat?

John Scalzi | December 21, 2006 03:59 PM

Kate Nepveu:

Lopsided cat is actually a guy, too (or was, before certain operations).

Kate Nepveu | December 21, 2006 04:02 PM

Oh, right -- Lopsided cat hasn't had much in the way of face time lately, so I forgot about him.

Do give him my apologies.

Electric Landlady | December 21, 2006 04:05 PM

If you're me, you chase the dog out, shut the door, and pee. Then you leave the lid down thereafter.

It's MY toilet.

Of course, the only dog in my house at present is a miniature long-haired dachshund, so the question doesn't really come up.

Steve Buchheit | December 21, 2006 04:05 PM

Okay, I hate to ask, but was he Lopsided cat before or after the operation?

Nick Stump | December 21, 2006 04:07 PM

The picture makes me miss my dog Kodi, a beautiful white Akita who recently went to dog heaven. What a beautiful face in your picture...I sure miss my dog.

Todd Stull | December 21, 2006 04:13 PM

Make sure the water bowl is full for the dog more often.

Of course if he's like mine, it doesn't matter. At this point, I figure all bets are off because the dog can surely smell water with pee, and without. Whizz away. Just make sure the dog's snout is out of the way.

Deanna Hoak | December 21, 2006 04:15 PM

That's usually my signal to get the dog fresh water. :-)

Harry | December 21, 2006 04:27 PM

I'd pee, lower the lid and refill the dog's dish. The dog shouldn't be drinking out of the can. Uk.

John Scalzi | December 21, 2006 04:45 PM

Look, people, we keep the dog's water dish fresh and full. She chooses to drink out of the can.

A.R.Yngve | December 21, 2006 04:49 PM

Give the dog a new waterbowl... made from an old porcelain commode. So doggie will feel familiar with it.

Jenny Rae Rappaport | December 21, 2006 04:54 PM

We've been lucky enough that the family dog has never expressed any interest in drinking out of the toilet.

The kitten, on the other hand, has a propensity for lapping up water that's left on the shower floor, as well as an unhealthy fascination with toilets in general. You can't leave her in the bathroom with you, while you use it, since she tries to infiltrate her way between you and the toilet.

Diplomachismo | December 21, 2006 05:03 PM

Having the only set of testicles in the house gives you the right to pee where ever you want. Abusing that privilege leads to...well, you can ask Lopsided about that...

Mark DF | December 21, 2006 05:06 PM

Pee on the dog. Uber Alpha Maleness.

Livia Llewellyn | December 21, 2006 05:07 PM

If you were able to halt the "relieving of the bladder" process in order to take a picture of the dilemma, then there clearly wasn't that much of a dilemma to begin with. :)

Scott Mactavish | December 21, 2006 05:09 PM

Pee in the dog's mouth.

Two birds, one stone.

Martin Wagner | December 21, 2006 05:14 PM

John, do you just carry the camera everywhere, hoping for Whatever material around every corner?

Kat | December 21, 2006 05:14 PM

We had a border collie who, for a month or two, decided his favorite sleeping place Ever was the bathroom. This was okay. In fact, considering that the other border collie is still convinced that the safest place to be during a thunderstorm is in the bathtub, it was pretty normal by border collie standards.

Unfortunately, we got used to him being in there, and I one day sat down to do my business without chasing him out... only to look up to see him standing directly in front of me with a horrified, "what are you doing in my Magic Fountain?" look on his little doggie face.

He stopped sleeping in the bathroom, though not, I note, drinking from the Magic Fountain. Dogs. Go figure.

Todd Stull | December 21, 2006 05:17 PM

Scott, you are funny. I almost spit up the pop I was drinking.

Harry | December 21, 2006 05:34 PM

>She chooses to drink out of the can.

And if she chooses to jump off a bridge? Or hang out with the biker dogs behind the bleachers? Or invest money based on what she heard on that Mad Money guy's show? Hmm?

As alpha-male, it's your job to decide what's best for the rest of your family[1] and controlling them accordingly.

[1]As long as, you know, your wife says it's okay.

Scott Mactavish | December 21, 2006 05:35 PM

I bet the dog spits up, too.

John Scalzi | December 21, 2006 05:38 PM

Never. She's a good dog.

Chang who love eat brainz and watch Czechanimation! | December 21, 2006 05:44 PM

Pee in the dog's mouth. Two birds, one stone.

Mactavish, damn you! I nearly choked on my lozengez!!!

Scott Mactavish | December 21, 2006 05:45 PM

Wait until she samples the Scalzi urine.

Double-barrel firehoses from her nose.

Chang who love eat brainz and watch Czechanimation! | December 21, 2006 05:46 PM


Josh Bales | December 21, 2006 06:08 PM

I am struck by how incredibly sad your dog looks. It's as though she's thinking, Please do not pee here. I am so very thirsty.


John Scalzi | December 21, 2006 06:21 PM

That's just the way Akitas look.It helps them get snacks from the dinner table, however.

Thena | December 21, 2006 06:32 PM

We don't have dogs. The cats, however, believe that the Throne Room is set up as a private audience chamber for The Pettins.

We also have to close the lid while flushing because Number Two Cat is fascinated by the contents and tries to chase them down.

Richelle Mead | December 21, 2006 06:34 PM

This is too deep. It's like one of those questions King Arthur gets asked in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

"What is your favorite color?"


"Let's say you are struck with the need to relieve your bladder...[etc.]...do you use the toilet?"


Nick Stump | December 21, 2006 06:40 PM

I think the Akita has the best face in dogdom.

Regan | December 21, 2006 06:55 PM

I'm going to go with no, because c) this bathroom's out of toilet paper. Why pee here when you can go to another bathroom and deplete its ready supply instead? That's what the holidays are all about, after all. Or something like that.

Dave | December 21, 2006 06:59 PM

"So, just who is the alpha male in the house?"

I'm pretty sure at times previous, John has made it clear that it's Krissy.

Gina | December 21, 2006 07:00 PM

Since I know I'm the only one here who has actually written a book with a title that refers to dogs drinking out of the toilet, I'm going to say:

1) No.
2) Keep the lid closed.

Soni | December 21, 2006 07:06 PM

Heh...I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with Throne Room captive audience aware kitties. It's like having a really conscientious secret service detail - they follow you with giggle-inducing urgency when you go in, sit and guard you (when not actively lobbying for a lap seat) during the process, then just as quickly head out when you get up, their mission of keeping you safe in your time of vulnerability being complete.

Our ex-male cat has a fascination with the toilet too, and is always drinking out of it, fresh kitty water or not. You have to watch out when you sit, because he drinks by bracing himself by the front paws in the "throat" of the bowl and often leaves cold, wet putty prints all over the seat.

Justfred | December 21, 2006 07:06 PM

Get an automatic water-filler next to the dog's dish.

Reprimand the dog for drinking out of the toilet.

Or (if weather permits) keep the dog outside.

That or just pee on the dog.

David | December 21, 2006 07:33 PM

My lab/chow mix has been gone for three years now, and man, I miss him.

Not enough to let him sleep on the bed, lay on the furniture or use my toilet, though. He was always looking for chances to move up the chain, y'know?

michael | December 21, 2006 07:47 PM

The dog prefers the throne to the dish most likely because the surface of the water is higher. This relieves the strain on her poor doggy neck, and back. If you were to raise her dish to an appropriate level, say coffee table height, I suspect she'd prefer that to the throne. It's worth a shot, and might just get you out of puzzling over who's alpha...

"Is it the dog, or me," Scalzi wondered.

Nathan | December 21, 2006 08:07 PM

First off, 47 responses (so far) to a question about peeing in the dog's water trough. Wow. We were all desperate for our Scalzi fix, weren't we?

Second. Our younger cat follows me into the bathroom on every opportunity. If I sit, she sniffs once, condescendingly, and leaves. If I'm peeing, she puts both paws up onto the rim and watches in fascination. Like it's the first time she's seen it.

Michael Martine | December 21, 2006 08:19 PM

If the dog has ever peed on the floor, then go ahead, let it rip.

Lisa | December 21, 2006 08:30 PM

oh to be a fly on the wall... this has a Krissy/John discussion written all over it.

eB | December 21, 2006 09:14 PM

For the record:

1. Unless you have a horrible urinary tract infection, fresh urine is sterile (the issue of the other material has already been covered).

2. I love the commenters on this blog.

We thank you,

Chang, who gets nothing done... | December 21, 2006 09:17 PM

You notice how Scalzi hasn't commented in a while? It's because he's watching Greys Anatomy right now, sipping Maples Syrup from a jug and laughing about how eager we all are to post about his toilet drinking dog.

Yes, I have contributed at least 5 posts to this entry alone so far.

John Scalzi | December 21, 2006 09:31 PM

Actually, I'm writing up some thoughts on the New York Times Sunday Book Review piece on me, because I've read the piece, and when it comes up I want to have a follow-up about it here.

And here at the Scalzi household we're enjoying the comments here.

Jim Wright | December 21, 2006 10:04 PM

I spend a lot of time around dogs, and I gotta tell you Scalzi, that expression looks less like an expression of concern regarding contamination of the potable water supply and more like canine curiosity - as in "what is this fool with a camera doing balanced on the edge of the tub? And these creatures domesticated my ancestors, oh yeah, sure..."

John Scalzi | December 21, 2006 10:20 PM

She's actually wondering when I'm going to give her the Milk Bone I have in my hand in order to make her look up at me while I snap the picture.

just thinking | December 21, 2006 10:38 PM

The only thing I feel is guilty that I've got to sully her drinking vessel.

Steve Buchheit | December 21, 2006 11:02 PM

Just some random thought, flushing the toilet doesn't fully replace all the water in the bowl. There's something like 10% retention, like pop-bottle backwash.

Mary | December 21, 2006 11:11 PM

Steve, it's OK if you don't tell us how you figured that out.

Phillip J. Birmingham | December 21, 2006 11:24 PM

So: Do you use the toilet?

You're standing in the bathtub -- why is the question even coming up?

Tapetum | December 21, 2006 11:35 PM

Who are all these people with dogs that can be discouraged by toilet lids? Lid up or down makes not one whit of difference to our basset. He's perfected the art of flipping the lid with his nose.

On the other hand, we're really clear about who's alpha around here. If a human walks by the bathroom while Nicky is drinking, he vacates.

Ted Lemon | December 22, 2006 03:08 AM

Dude, you *are* the alpha wolf! Get over yourself! If your dog knew what you were thinking, he'd have you on your back with his teeth on your throat before you could blink!

Read any good werewolf novels recently? ;')

Pavel | December 22, 2006 04:24 AM

What, they don't have a sink or a bathtub?

hugh57 | December 22, 2006 06:16 AM

Scalzi: What happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom. ;-)

Rest of Whatever: I guess short stories aren't necessary. 62 comments here and only 35 in "Are Short Stories Necessary?" ?!?!

David S. | December 22, 2006 06:59 AM

No way a male (alpha, beta or gamma) should expose his manhood round a dog that size (no matter how well behaved or sad looking). What if he's hungry too?

Lisa | December 22, 2006 07:21 AM

Thanks David....

Now I've almsost shot Cheerios out of my nose. Not a pleasant sensation.

John | December 22, 2006 07:30 AM

I'd pee. My house. Until the dog gets a paying job and helps with the mortgage, it's all mine.

Yam | December 22, 2006 07:32 AM

I find myself strangely tempted to create a "I'm in ur bathroom, drinkin ur waterz" picture now, dogs not really getting enough represntation in those stakes.

Adam | December 22, 2006 08:10 AM

I guess I'm just more concerned with whether or not you let the dog lick your face afterwards

Eric | December 22, 2006 08:27 AM

All you need is one of these. http://www.collectionsetc.com/Item76062.aspx?WT.mc_id=ZAMLS05E But then I guess the question becomes, if all of the bathrooms in the house are busy and you really have to go, do you pee in the water dish?

Phillip J. Birmingham | December 22, 2006 08:50 AM

What happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom. ;-)

You should probably call a plumber about that.

Hilary | December 22, 2006 11:26 AM

This old Three Stooges bit comes to mind - "cheese has no flavor if you can't smell it" Shemp removes clothes pin from nose "wow what flavor!"

andrew | December 22, 2006 11:33 AM

I'd pee; I do often enough with my cats.

One of my cats has learned to stand on the toilet lid and drink out of the toilet. The fact that he does this has never stopped me from peeing in the toilet. Of course questions of Alpha maleness never comes up. He is a small cat and despite his age (14) he still looks like a young cat. We both know who the alpha male is around our house.

My other cat never drinks out of the toilet. I suspect it might have to do with the short legs on her (She is a pedigreed Himalayan) and at her age, hip arthritis.


P.S. For all you druids out there Happy winter Solstice.

dave | December 22, 2006 12:16 PM

Personally, I wouldn't consider peeing on the dog. I don't want to be caught with my junk hanging out around a dog that could make short work of me on a bad day.

Steve Buchheit | December 22, 2006 01:00 PM

Mary, that comes from learning plumbing, an old physics class, and I believe I saw it on a "This Old House" episode. Yeah, I keep freakish bits of trivia floating in the grey cells. I also used to be the Council's liason to the local Water Board.

Andrew, Happy Solstice right back at ya (from a Toaist)

Craig | December 22, 2006 08:05 PM

The picture is great. Essentially I always thought every dog drank from the toilet. Please don't read too much into this but I'm sure my Mom could not have cared less having the dog drink out of the toilets, other than that we 7 kids thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world. Thanks for conjuring up some very earthy memories. (strangely we don't have dogs around in my own family; your pet dog may not attack your "junk", but he will lick your face when you least expect it)

nzbeads | December 22, 2006 09:51 PM

One of my cats, male, taught himself to pee in the toilet.

Both current cats (female) will accompany you to the bathroom, regardless of time of day or night, for some extra pats if they are remotely awake (problematical with cats).

One drinks from the toilet; the other just shreds the paper.

Too much information, huh?

MWT | December 22, 2006 11:06 PM

nzbeads: One of my cats, male, taught himself to pee in the toilet.

Does he also flush?

nzbeads | December 23, 2006 10:04 AM

MWT: Alas, no, he didn't learn to flush. On the other hand, unlike some human males of my acquaintance, he hardly ever missed.

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