Our dogs predict Monday Night Football: Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers


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We told you earlier this month about Princess, a camel at New Jersey’s Popcorn Park Zoo who has an uncanny knack for making admittedly unscientific, but still surprisingly accurate, predictions for the winners of professional football games.

Princess, who belonged to heiress Doris Duke before moving into her cozy digs at Popcorn Park, makes her predictions with the help of the zoo’s general manager, John Bergmann. He chooses one high-profile football game per week and writes the names of the opposing teams on his hands. He then holds graham crackers (who knew camels were so fond of them?) in each of his hands in order to induce Princess to lick one -- and whichever team corresponds to the hand she licks first is her ‘pick’ for the winner of the game.


Hey, we told you it was unscientific. But unscientific or no, Princess predicted 17 out of 21 games correctly last year, including the Super Bowl. And who are we to argue with statistics like that?

Inspired by the 2,600-pound camel’s prowess, our two considerably-smaller dogs decided (with a bit of coaxing from us) to try their hands paws at the fine art of football-game predicting. Taking a cue from Princess (and because they ardently oppose the cruelty of dogfighting), they will refrain from predicting the outcome of any game in which Michael Vick‘s new team, the Philadelphia Eagles, plays.

For their first foray into the world of sports prognosticating, the dogs -- Django (above), a toy fox terrier mix, and Gimlet, a we-won’t-hazard-a-guess mix -- chose between the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers, who face each other in a game to be televised during tonight’s Monday Night Football.

Armed with the dogs’ favorite treats, and with the teams’ names printed across our hands, we took this matchup to the dogs. Django was up first and chose the Panthers immediately (although after making his initial pick, he seemed torn -- owing more, we’re sure, to the fact that both hands contained treats than to any lingering doubts about the on-the-field prowess of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo). We told Django what our SAT-prep instructors told us: Go with your first instinct. And we gave him the second treat.

Because Django is the more food-motivated (read: ravenous) of the two, he was banished to an adjoining room to allow Gimlet to concentrate on his prediction.

Well, that was the idea -- in actual practice, it backfired when Django’s whines from the other side of the door upset Gimlet to the point that he refused to make a prediction at all, opting instead to hide under a desk. Grudgingly, we allowed his bossy ‘brother’ to reenter the Prediction Room. Upon his return, Gimlet promptly made his prediction, siding with Django to choose the Panthers.


(He’s a fast-moving little devil, but we assure you, Gimlet is the blur next to the hand on the left, shown choosing the Panthers.) We’re led to believe that Django and Gimlet’s choice is a longshot -- but we can’t say we’re surprised that they’re, well, pulling for the underdog.

[Update: Although the dogs were totally right for the first half of the game, Carolina rolled over like dogs in the second half and the Cowboys won the game. Oh, well; better luck next week.]

-- Lindsay Barnett