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So having gotten numeric ages on all the purebred dogs in our database, I matched Labrador Retrievers (the breed we have the most of, so great test subjects!) with other purebreds of the same age/size. Then I asked which of our survey questions they are significantly different on. (Only up to question 110 – we don’t have as many dogs with answers on the newer questions.)
I sent my findings to Elinor, our Fearless Leader, who summarized them like so:
“OK – so so far looks like labradors:
(1) don’t howl
(2) like water
(3) like people
(4) are good at finding food
We might be onto something here!”
We joked a bit about how this was just finding things people already knew – BUT it is nice to find these things that we think are true to also be supported in our data set. It suggests we’re not collecting completely random untrue data!
The other interesting thing is that while the points Elinor makes are true for MOST labs – or, for labs more than for other breeds in general – they are definitely not true for ALL labs. There are plenty of labs who don’t like water or retrieving or people. It’s a really important point: there may be trends in breed personalities, but every dog is an individual.
We also found that labs are more likely to lick the floor than other breeds… Huh? Could be just what we call a “type I error,” a chance finding that isn’t real, or could be a real thing. We will investigate…
Well, you never know…might score some extra crumbs that way…(good at finding food)
We sometimes offer both our dog and cat food containers, plates, or flatware to let them lick the residue off before we wash them. It always amazes me how exhaustive and meticulous a job both of them do of it, licking until long after every last bead of moisture and every pinprick-sized speck of food is gone. Yes, I’ve been known to lick such items on occasion too, but never that thoroughly–my taste buds stop being happy once the licks start tasting more of plastic, stainless steel, or tempered glass than of food. I know I have many more taste buds than they do though, so I guess my experience of it is just different.
That’s my best guess, too – labs looove food! (Well, most of them do.) In our house, we call this “getting the molecules,” as in “Jenny, are there any molecules of food left on that plate?”
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