What to do with the waggiest dogs

A VISION of a crazy Heath Robinson-style machine with a happy dog at its centre came vividly to mind as I read a press release this week.

This gave the result of new – and probably unique – research into what/who gets the tails of dogs wagging in the East of England.

Not unsurprisingly, it was treat time which came out on top.

It was also found – and this is something which we have unwittingly been waiting for years to find out – that energy created from giving dogs a treat, if harnessed, would be enough to make 88,000 cups of tea a year.

Put another way, it could charge 1,126 iPhones a day.

Just how one would gather the energy from wagging tails without having the wrath of the RSPCA and the Dog Club hammering down on one with great force could be another story which we won’t go into now.

Back to the original interest, the world-first independent study commissioned by a dog biscuit brand was apparently undertaken very scientifically with various breeds and sizes of dogs to calculate the “waggage” of the average dog.

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The calculation, it is said, is based on simple harmonic motion – the same movement as a clock pendulum – and includes important factors such as tail length, diameter, mass and the speed and duration of each wag.

The optimum time for dogs to wag their tails is at breakfast – not surprising after having to go without grub for hours on end, Fido might have confided to the researchers if they had asked him.

Dogs get more excited receiving a treat than having their main meal put before them. Also up there among the wagability incentives is seeing their lead and being told the magic word “walkies”.

On the human side of things, it was concluded from the study that owners find a wag from their dog’s tail is six times more uplifting than a hot bath or a hug from a friend.

When I began my motoring career in a converted mini-van many, many years ago, I was told that there were two essential items which I should always carry with me.

One was a full toolbox which quickly proved itself useful. The mini-van was only three years old but motors were not terribly reliable in those days and there were times when it came to a juddering halt, usually in some remote part of the countryside.

The good thing about engines then was that they were not festooned with electronic gadgets like today so ordinary mortals could actually work on them. I was a dab hand at scraping the inside of the distributor cap and cleaning the spark plugs. I remember doing just that every few miles along the M4 one Christmas Day. Turned out the cap was cracked.

The other essential was a road atlas. I still have one, which certainly pleased me when I read this week that research suggests people would be far better using such a paper publication than a super duper satellite navigation system.

I smiled when I learned that more than half of over-65s had successfully navigated using a map in the last year while 82 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds with satnavs had been lost.