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A photograph of a man down on all-fours next to an oversized fire hydrant, lifting one leg mimicing a dog marking territory.
figure 1  

 

fire hydrant. An exercise in which the exerciser gets down on all fours and lifts each leg in turn laterally, like a dog lifting its leg to mark something.

I understand that Jane Fonda popularized this term for a spine strengthening exercise in which you get on your hands and knees and, in turn, lift each leg up laterally, like a dog marking a fire hydrant.reference 1 I first learned of this exercise in the late seventies when several friends of mine came home from an exercise class and described it in graphic detail. As with doggie style, a willingness for humans to laugh at themselves is implicit in this moniker. As with that usage, the metaphor is a visual one.

 

 

1. Waehner, Paige. [n.d.]. The Perfect Butt. About.com: Exercise. About.com. Accessed Aug 27 2001 from http:// exercise.about.com/ library/ weekly/ aa092900a.htm.

Because of dogs' apparent tendencies to leave scent marks on hydrants, these objects are at times used to refer to dogs or these actions by dogs. In The Natural History of the Rich, author Richard Conniff finds striking behavioral similarities between the wealthy and a variety of animals, some specific to dogs. As a journalist, Conniff has written about nature for publications such as National Geographic and Smithsonian and about the wealthy for magazines like Architectural Digest, so at least he knows his territory. In an interview with Forbes magazine, Conniff notes that he is not the only one to equate human behavior with that of animals: “Rich people do it all the time. For instance, Mrs. Armand Hammer once said, ‘A telephone is to Armand what a fireplug is to a dog. He can't pass one without using it. The only difference is, he raises the receiver instead of his leg.’”reference 2 2. Adams, Susan. 2002. Billionaires in the Mist. Forbes.com. Yahoo.com. Accessed Sept 10 2002 from http:// story.news.yahoo.com/ news? tmpl=story&u=/ fo/ 20020910/ bs_ fo/2002_9_ billionaires _in_the_mist.
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About the illustration: Perhaps unsurprisingly, I had a difficult time finding a suitable image to illustrate this entry. I am indebted to the Montgomery County Cultural Center of Norristown, Pennsylvania for this image of Dan Porto as Snoopy in the Center's production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.reference 3 3. Montgomery County Cultural Center. 2000. Charlie Brown. The Centre Theater. Montgomery County Cultural Center. Accessed Oct 23 2001 from http:// www.artscc.org/theater/charlie.html
see also: piss on one's leg; sometimes you're the dog, sometimes you're the hydrant
cf: bird dog (exercise)
Last updated: September 1, 2009
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