‘Statistics For Terrified Biologists’ and Some Doggy News

Dear Readers, ‘terrified’ would be a strong word, but ‘daunted’ would be closer to the mark, as I get stuck into my t-tests and Mann-Whitney U tests and chi-squared tests, all to see if the results that I’ve got in my experiments for my OU course are actually worth the paper that they’re printed on. It’s all good stuff, though – I can feel my brain creaking as it expands, and the delight when I actually work out how something works is quite something to behold. This afternoon, I couldn’t work out how to do something, so I told my husband how frustrated I was and, miraculously, all he had to do was stand behind me and squint at the calculation and suddenly it all became clear. He didn’t have to say a word!

To be fair, I have a similar effect when he’s lost something (which is a fairly common occurrence). Early on in our relationship, I learned that, instead of joining him in the hunt for the missing object, all I had to do was say ‘you’ll find it, you never really lose anything’ and the item would appear, though generally not in any place that a sane person would expect. I swear that there is a tear in the fabric of the universe through which wedding rings/valuable pieces of paper/keys/wallets/work passes drop, only to reappear elsewhere on the space/time continuum (usually a pile of something completely unrelated). Go figure, as us statisticians say.

Anyhow, when I looked up from my endeavours it was to read that the oldest dog in the world has been verified by the Guinness Book of Records. Bobi is not only the most elderly dog in the world at the moment, at an extraordinary 30 years old, but the oldest dog ever. He lives with the Costa family in the village of Conqueiros in Portugal, where he has lived all his life after a narrow escape – he was one of four siblings, the rest of whom were ‘euthanised’ (I suspect this is a euphemism for ‘drowned in a bucket’ but I could be wrong) because they were too many, as Thomas Hardy would have described it in ‘Jude the Obscure’. Anyhow, Bobi was rescued by eight year-old Lionel Costa, who kept the puppy a secret by hiding it in an outhouse and sneaking food to him. When the puppy was discovered the family decided to keep him, and Bobi has continued to eat whatever his family have for dinner. Clearly it’s done him no harm – it’s only recently that he’s had trouble walking and deteriorating eyesight. He is clearly a Very Good Boy.

Bobi the oldest dog in the world and feline friend

And for those of you who are dog lovers, there’s a real treat coming up at the Wallace Collection in London. ‘Portraits of Dogs – From Gainsborough to Hockney’ runs from 29th March to 15th October this year, and jolly good fun it looks too. I shall take myself off and review it for you when it opens, but for now, here’s a taster of what’s coming up.


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