Experiments in canine-assisted footwear choices.
This research attempted to investigate a potential solution to the perennial problem of what shoes to choose for an occasion. The author presented a selection of footwear to the experimental assistant, Molly (aka: Mollymop, Fuzzbutt, Hairy Hooligan, ‘Put that down NOW’ and assorted other names) and noting which shoe she chose and if it was appropriate to the intended wearer and the occasion. Results suggested some potential, though further work is required
A row of pairs of shoes was constructed. These included shoes appropriate to different circumstances and belonging to different wearers. The also included both soft shoes and harder boots. Molly was observed, as she usually does when she greets someone, selecting a shoe and bringing it to the intended recipient – or at least rushing around with the shoe like a hairy dervish and refusing to let go.
The experiment was conducted three times under different circumstances, shoes being arrayed at the foot of the staircase on each occasion:
Experiment 1: Waiting for the author (aka: Grumpy old bugger) to slouch blearily down the stairs for breakfast in the morning.
Experiment 2: Waiting for the Lady of the House (aka: Aunty Susan, Trouble, ‘er indoors, The Boss etc) to emerge after her bath.
Experiment 3: Time for evening walkies.
Experiment 1. Molly selected a slipper belonging to the author.
Experiment 2. Molly selected a training shoe belonging to Susan.
Experiment 3. Molly selected a boot belonging to the author.
Experiment 1. Molly clearly identified the footwear belonging to the author as he was descending the stairs, furthermore, she seemed to realise that he would be staying indoors to eat breakfast and that an outdoor shoe was not appropriate.
Experiment 2. Susan does not possess slippers and Molly seems to have selected the nearest thing – a soft training shoe – belonging to the right person.
Experiment 3. Molly selected a boot appropriate to going for a walk. Given that the Author had just descended the stairs it seems likely she chose one of his shoes for this reason.
General discussion and opportunities for further work:
Unsurprisingly, Molly is able to correctly identify a shoe’s owner, presumably by scent though also possibly because the author’s size 11s are bigger than she is, which is a bit of a giveaway. More surprisingly there was a suggestion that she seemed able to determine the appropriate footwear for an occasion.
It was also noted that doggy drool is suitable as a lubricant when trying to get tight shoes on.
There are some notable deficiencies in this study which should be considered when planning further work:
- The shoes were not arranged randomly, largely because Susan would get grumpy if they were. Some people just do not get the importance of scientific rigour.
- The range of shoes was limited by our own lifestyle. For instance, Susan does not possess any high heels (and I was not going to let mine get chewed….)*
- The inability of Molly to understand the ‘letting go’ part of the fetching process meant that repeated observation was difficult. A less stubborn experimental assistant is advised for further work.
- The author does not consider a semi-feral Springer Spaniel as being a very ‘Jimmy Choo’ kind of dog and therefore not likely to choose glamorous footwear even if given the chance – unless she could chew it. Repeating the experiment with a more dainty dog might give different results – although a Chihuahua attempting to fetch one of the author’s enormous boots would be worth seeing just for comedy value.
The author would like to thank his beloved friend and fashion Guru – Dominique Nancy – for both suggesting and inspiring this research. He would also like to thank Susan Sleep and Molly’s owners, Abi & Tom, for arranging access to the Mollster.
Molly would like to thank Aunty Susan for being the bestest Aunty in the world. But then she will do anything if she thinks a dog biscuit might be possible.
* I have watched this movie WAY too may times, obviously: