Teddy enters the football prediction game

Saturday, Nov. 24, is an important day for Ohio State students, alumni and fans. It’s the OSU-Michigan game, the latest installment in a football rivalry that started in 1897 with Michigan winning 34-0.

“The Game,” as it is known, this year will be played at the Horseshoe in Columbus.

My family will probably watch, but as Ohio University, Wake Forest and Dayton alumni, we don’t have as much skin in the game as many of our family and friends.

To pick which team will win, listening to sports pundits analyze players’ skill sets, coaching strengths and the like is a must. Weather conditions should also be considered. And most importantly, favorite team and/or players and which team has the better-designed uniform.

But we decide not to rely on any of these well used methods to predict the winner. We asked Teddy, our 4-year-old black Lab, to pick.

Our choice wasn’t unique. For years, humans have been asking animals to pick sporting event winners.

Paul, an octopus living in a German Zoo, accurately picked the results of Germany’s soccer matches in the 2010 World Cup. Unfortunately, Paul died shortly after the World Cup crowned Spain the winner.

Fiona, the young hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo, successfully picked the Eagles over the Patriots to win last year’s Super Bowl. Ozzy, a grizzly bear at Zoo Montana, also picked the Eagles. The bear licked the teams’s logo off of a peanut butter-and-marshmallow fluff-frosted cake. Puppies on the “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon weren’t so accurate, having picked the Patriots.

To help Teddy pick the winner, we used the method both the Cincinnati Zoo and “The Tonight Show” used.

Our Lab is used to playing a similar game. Instead of just giving Teddy a treat, we will break it apart and scatter the pieces on the floor. After he sits, waits and watches the one who is playing with him, he is given permission to go after the treats.

Teddy’s rump wiggles and his tail wags as he scoops up the goodies. When he sees one of us opening the treat jar the pooch positions himself by us, tail wagging, in anticipation for the “game” to begin.

My husband, Ed, placed OSU and Michigan signs about 10 feet away from Teddy. OSU was to the right, Michigan to the left. He then dropped several pieces of the Lab’s kibble in front of each sign.

I had Teddy sit in the middle of the two signs so he wouldn’t make a beeline to the one he was sitting directly in front of and told him to wait. Then I said, “Watch me,” and finally, “OK.”

We had no idea if he would go to left or right. Normally, when we scatter the kibble on the floor he goes to the closest piece first.

Teddy pranced straight down the middle, stopped in front of the two piles of kibble and looked over to the Michigan side.

“Whoops, our family and friends wouldn’t be too happy with a Michigan pick,” I thought.

But the Lab quickly turned right and gobbled up the kibble on the OSU side, then just as quickly turned and ate the Michigan kibble.

So Teddy has picked OSU to win this year’s matchup, though we’re not putting any money on his prediction.

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