Friday 17 June 2011

Bertie Boffin at the Blogville Picnic

Welcome welcome welcome!

I hope you are enjoying the Blogville Picnic and I am so pleased that you have made it over to my Science Corner. As you know, I take my role as Scientific Advisor to Blogville most seriously...

This weekend, here by the pond, and with your help, I am going to conduct a series of water-related science experiments. My aim is to demonstrate to you the scientific process of using experiments to test theories.

We are going to conduct three experiments, each investigating a different hypothesis.

HYPOTHESIS 1: The thicker the dog's coat, the more water it holds.

Method: The dog jumps in the water and straight out again. It then shakes itself all over its human. We record the breed of dog and measure the volume and duration of its owner's squeals, these parameters can be used as an indirect indicator of the amount of water soaked up and then released by the dog.

HYPOTHESIS 2: The longer a dog's legs, the faster it can swim.

Method: We assemble a sample of dogs of widely differing heights, from chihuahua to greyhound, and stand them at one end of the pond, lined up from shortest to tallest. Gail then runs to the other side of the pond with a handful of tasty treats, which she waves invitingly as she calls them across, and records the time each dog takes to swim the 25m distance.

HYPOTHESIS 3: As with human males, certain 'private' parts of the male dog anatomy shrink in size when exposed to cold water.

Method: We find a cohort of 'intact and proud of it' male dogs, preferably ones that are nicely warmed up, perhaps after chasing the lady dogs around the picnic site. We carefully photograph their undersides. We then stand them in the pond for 15 minutes (and remember that this corner of the picnic is taking place in Scotland and the water temperature is at most 50ºF/10ºC).  We take another photo when they step out. We compare the dimensions 'before' and 'after' in a most rigorous, objective and scientific manner.....

Got all that?

Now then, I would like you to comment critically on the possible flaws in the experimental designs (i.e. tell me what might possibly go wrong), maybe suggest ways in which the research could be improved, and predict - giving reasons - what you think the results should be.

I would also like you to tell me which experiment(s) you wish take part in. Feel free to volunteer your friends too!

The experiments will be conducted on Saturday afternoon and I will be compiling a full analysis of the results, to be presented in a separate post shortly after the picnic is over.

Thanks for stopping by!

PS In a parallel universe, Gail and I arrived safe and well at human Granny and Grandad's, and I was awarded a stellar 9 out of 10 for my behaviour on the train yesterday. More on this next week when we are back in Aberdeen ...


  1. Hiya Bertie Boffin :-) Wow what great experiments, our human was giggling at one of them but we don't know why. We think they have all been so well thought out that we can't add much. We would like to be in the coat experiment as we don't really do swimming and we're not sure how many Newfoundlands you have there as rescue dogs. However we do have thick double layer coats so think we'll do well in the coat experiment. Great event, thank you Bertie! Dex & Lou x

  2. If you think I am going to actually submerge my nards you are mistaken. The horror! But carry on with your experiment and you will observe that my dangly bits are quite immune to climate change.

    As for the wet doggies, I offer the Pea who seems to be curiously almost dry by the time he walks across the driveway from the cement pond whilst momma is soaking wet without even going for a swim.


  3. Hey Bertie Boff'

    Geesh man, you make me cringe sometimes, BOL! (For the other dogs, that is!)

    My first suggestion, buddy, is that Gail include YOU in ALL those experiments. Your experience will obviously count the most in her eyes.

    Secondly, I would LOVE to see a Greyhound swim...I believe they have great difficulty (I could be wrong, but it would be fun to watch anyway)

    Thirdly, whether its cold, humid, hot, frozen, I remain intact and in proportion...afterall, I am Scottish! (At least my ancestry is) nuts are never sensitive - unless they're criticized!

    Good luck with all your experiments...can't wait to hear the results.

    Your buddy TOBY SOUTH AFRICA

  4. Now, this is going to be good! I can swim pretty fast (with my short legs) so I am especially anxious for the second experiment.

    Your pal, Pip

  5. Ummmmm Bertie.. I am disqualified fur Hypothesis #3... BUTT you can count me in fur BOTH #1 and #2.
    I can NOT wait to see how all THREE turn out.
    My mom says that my furs hold like 87 GALLONS of water.. I wonder if she is Right???
    AND.. I (Frankie Furter) am like Pip.. I can swim really really FAST. THIS is a grrrreat thingy you have put together. SOOOOO fun and such a grrrreat learning experience!! The ampitheater will be totally PACKed.

  6. Sounds very interesting Bertie. I sure am glad that for this, I am a girl, no pics of my private parts BOL Will check back on Sat. I can do the water shake really good BTW!!

    Jazzi and Addy

  7. Hey Bertie!
    Wow, what cool 'speriments! I'm in for #1 an #2, but alas, too tutored for the final one. Good luck getting the pix for that. I can't wait to see how much water I can spray on my peeps and I'm pretty darn fast in the swimmie category! Great ideas for these! Can't wait to read more!
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, COP

  8. Oh my goodness Bertie. You sure are a thinker. Your hypotheses are quite interesting. We are looking forward to seeing the results.
    Benny & Lily
    Pee S. I am staying out of cold water

  9. Oh...I can't's waits to see da results of all of dis...specially #3. BWHahahahahahahah

  10. My mom person laughed so hard she spit Diet Pepsi on her computer. I don't know what's so funny, very well though out & scientific. Being that I am not "intact" and I hate being in any kind of water I can't help with the direct research, but I'll be thrilled to read the results.

    Nubbin wiggles,

  11. Bewtie Boffin'
    Yet again you astound me wif youw deep thinking on these mattews. ummm,I think youw high pothe seas awe quite well thought out, but As Mango pointed out, some "iontact" woofies seem weluctant to submewge theiw pwivate pawts..wondew why???seems suspicious to me I wouldn't take his wowd fow it that nothing happens.
    I am a vewy fast swimmew and can attest to the fact that when I come out of my baf, not only Mommi , but the whole bafwoom is sopping wet when I shake myself
    I would be happy to be in youw tests that awe appwopwiate to giwls.
    I also think, wiwy haiw might hold vewy diffewent amounts of watew than soft coated bweeds

    Can't wait fow youw concloosions
    smoochie kisses
    pee ess, I knew you would be pawfect on the twip

  12. hey Bertie,

    Very clever science projects you have put together! Sadly, I can not participate in any of your worthy experiments.

    Hypothesis 1: Malamutes are snow dogs so the only time you will find me entering water is if I am ready to drop from heat/humidity, and even then I only - very cautiously - go in until it touches my belly.

    Hypothesis 2: Being a snow dog I don't swim. Not even for treats. At least I don't think I swim for treats...

    Hypothesis 3: I was snipped. 'Nuff woofed.

    Thus, any science experiment with water would have to exclude me. However, I am very curious to read your results and think you have done a great job in putting such an interesting science experiment together! :->



  13. p.s. My human said there is one water experiment I can do: measure how much water spills from my mouth to the floor when I drink out of my water bowl. :-> Good luck with your experiments!


  14. Hey Bertie if you have a minute or two.. we could use your help at the Emerg. Med. Tent..

    Fenris crashed into the corner and kinda knocked it down... They could use your strong Paws over there.

  15. BOLBOLBOL at Hypothesis 3!!!! I think I know which certain "private" part you are talking about. You are so good at this, Bertie. very interesting stuff! Very educational.

  16. OK, well, I cannot pawticipate in Hypothesis Nummer 3 coz I is a gurl. I is a little skeered of swimming and can only do a few strokes so that leaves me out of Nummer 2. But Nummer 1, COUNT ME IN! I can sop up waters with my unnercoats and make my mom look like she just got out of the shower when I sposh all ofur her, BOL. Now my questshun would be, fur the dogs wot requires pawfessional grooming at the booty salon (and I is not one of them), how duss you determine when the bestest time would be fur pawticipashuns? Afore the salon snip, after, or somewhere in betweens? Or would those dogs be diskwalified coz they would skew the results? And I must add, Bertie, you sound so way smart in your scientific eggsplanashuns! This do be furry interesting indeed!

  17. ROTFBMTO! *awesome* Sadly, I hate everything water related, so I'll sit this one out, but perhaps I could help your Gail hold those tasty treats? *wipes away the drool*

  18. Well, for #1 count me out I don't have an undercoat at all. But I is sure that you would be quite good at it.

    For #2 I nominate Puddles, her legs are short but she is so smart that she would hitch a ride and not even make a wave!

    For #3 I whole heartedly nominate Mango Man!!!! He is not only the biggest around but he is the biggest around get it? Oh well I just know he will win this one paws down!

    You is so smart Bertie!

    I be back tomorrow to find out who did what!

    Off to Pawty More! Tessa

  19. Bertie. We read this. And called Moma right over. We want her to see just what we have been missing. Friends. Fun. Intellectual stimulation. Too much. We MUST figure out a way to get back with more regularity. Our paws are crossed.

    In the meantime, we've taken copious notes. We're heading to Ponca City on Wednesday. And we'll be thinking of you and your Grandad and your Gail.

    How do you say it? See ye efter? Guid cheerio the nou?
    Jake and Fergi (the hideaway partygoers)

  20. First, we're so glad to hear that your train ride went well, um, good? well? We could use some grammar lessons, too.

    On to the science experiments that you propose. We can't find any flaws in the first hypothesis. Makes totals sense to us. We prove this hypothesis on a daily basis.

    Second hypothesis - the main problem we see might be the willingness of the participants. While greyhounds certainly have the longest and lithest (most lithe?) legs, we're not sure they are up for a dip in the pond. Bunny could tell you for sure.

    Third hypothesis - again, the main problem might be a lack of um, able-bodies participants. We think Mango would be your best bet here.

    Will definitely be checking back later this weekend to read your scientific conclusions.

    Thanks for visiting the bouncy house!

    The Road Dogs

  21. Great water experiments and thought out hypotheses, Bertie. Being female non-swimmers, we'd like to be included in the volume of water in a coat.

    Of course, we're clipped on the top AND have long skirts. So we may skew the findings.

    XXXOOO Daisy, kendra & Bella

    We also use the amount of water on her glasses lenses to test volume.

  22. Oh no, I didn't think for one minute you would be asking for us to go in the water!!! I'll just sit on the side and watch.
    My thoughts

    Hypothesis 1
    I have a double coat and it does a good job of keeping water out, so dogs with these's kinds of coats will not hold so much water

    Hypothesis 2
    I got a feeling dogs with short legs can swim faster

    Hypothesis 3
    intresting, as I have been done!! so have forgotten what they feel like lol!!!

    Like I say there no way you are getting me in that pond water, but I don't mind handing towels out for the one that do.

    just let me get a beer and a tube steak, do you want me to bring you one over, because this is going to take some time.

  23. BOL Bertie! Those first two are crazy wild and wacky experiments! Can't wait to hear the results ;) Now that last one...WICKED! BOL! Not sure how many volunteers you'll get for that one Hardy Har Har :D

    Waggin at ya,

  24. Bertie, we thinks we'll be takin' a pass on da three hi-potosees. Us Cairns is technically from Scotland ya know, and we is suspose to like water, but da Mum has discovered that we don't swim real good. Actually, truth be known, we kind of sink like rocks and have to be fished out! So we'll sit on the shore, dig big holes in the sand, and watch everyone else get soaked. K?

    Buzzy McDuff & Pippa Posey

  25. Hi Berti!

    Mona & Weenie here. We just got to the picnic from Texas and heard about your great blog, so here we are. We have to say we'r glad we came.

    Be basck later.

    {{{huggies}}}....Mona & Weenie

  26. Just popping by again to see if you resolved the who swims faster question - dogs with long legs or short legs.

    Your pal, Pip

  27. I can help with number one. Being a swimming sheltie and all. Actually I think is a bit water proof, my coats so thick it wont soak in right away, but after a full immersion I do get lots of appreciative squeals from Mum when I shake off. Actually she has learnt to stay back and let tnp get wet.
    Hope yous hasing a nice time at grandpawents.

  28. Zehr interessant, Herr Professor.

    Hypo 1: we think there is insufficient specificity in the parameters. The size of the dogs will make a difference: even a short haired single coat Dane can shake off a larger volume of water than a long-haired doxie. As many others have pointed out, volume of water absorbtion will also depend on the composition of the coat: dogs bred for water tend to have thicker double coats, often curly or at least wavy [NSDTR like Jed, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers], but they are efficiently designed to repel water, not soak it up. Jumping in and then out immediately as posited in the experiment would not provide enough exposure for water dogs to get drenched or soak up much water. So we posit that coat thickness alone will NOT be dispositive of water volume absorbtion and subsequent expression.

    Hypo 2: We disagree with this hypothesis. Body proportions rather than leg length will be controlling: legs either disproportionately shorter or longer than the chest depth are efficient for digging [short legs, like doxies] or running [long legs, like greyhounds] but are not efficient for swimming. Again, we note that the water breeds have a general parity between chest depth and leg length. We posit body mass will also affect swimming efficiency: the doggie equivalent of mesomorphs [most water breeds] are going to be better swimmers than doggie ectomorphs [bulldogs] or endomorphs [grayhounds]. Then there is the issue of the length of the race: 25 meters might be a sprint for larger doggies and an endurance race for smaller doggies. Finally, you posit that all dogs will be equally food motivated to race, when we have recently seen in Honey's Dancing With The Doggie Stars contest that some doggies, like Hauwii the Musslander, are decidedly stuffy motivated. Therefore, we conclude your hypothesis will not be substantiated by the evidence.

    Hypo 3: this is an area in which we have NO information. We posit that the size of your test group will be so small as to make your results statistically insignificant.

    As to participation, being so water averse she has to be physcally forced to go outside to potty in the rain and being female, Abby must respectfully decline to participate in any of your experiments. Being a water breed, Jed will be delighted to participate in experiments 1 & 2. He is anatomically disqualified from participating in experiment 3.

    Thank you for once again providing an excellent science experience!

    Jed & Abby

  29. We absolutely have to check mama's work more carefully! She crossed her wires, as seems to be happening with increasing frequency. Endomorphic doggies would be the bulldogs and ectomorphic doggies would be the grayhounds, not the reverse as mama erroneously typed. We are mortified and beg your pardon.

    Jed & Abby