Now it has been proven that dogs are able to make moral judgements about our friends. According to scientists from Kyoto University in Japan, dogs show a 'highly developed social competence'. A report in The Times, explained that 54 dog owners had been given a task in which they pretended to struggle to open a container. An actor was then employed to enter the room and either help the dog owner or ignore them. The dog was then offered two treats - by the actor and another stranger simultaneously.
Apparently most dogs took the treat from the actor if he had assisted the owner - or took it from the other (neutral) stranger if the owner had been ignored. No dogs were fool enough to decline the treats altogether, which just goes to show how important it is to offer biscuits at every available tea-break. Preferably chocolate digestives if you're visiting my office.
To test the theory further, I've allowed my dogs access to The Racing Post and asked them to select a jockey to join our panel for the Cheltenham Festival Preview Night on Thursday 9th March. They appear to have selected Brian Hughes - or at least he's the name that attracts the most muddy paw marks if I leave the newspaper on the floor.
As one might have expected from Man's Best Friend, the dogs have made an excellent choice. Not only was Brian crowned the top jockey at Cartmel last season, with 7 winners and a strike rate of 17%, but he is now the most successful jockey in the North with 105 winners this season already.
He has an 11% strike rate for Jimmy Moffatt, one of the few people who has both ridden and trained a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, who will also be on the panel - together with form expert Marten Julian.
I can't tell you whether Brian will be riding anything for Jimmy at Cheltenham - you'll have to come to the preview night and find out - but he's likely to have some interesting rides. I'll be keeping an ear out for any mention of horses like The Dutchman, who could feature in the Novice Handicap Chase or Cyrus Darius, who was beaten quite a distance by The New One in a Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock recently. Second in that race, not beaten far at all, was Clyne, who runs in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday and is our selection for the weekend.
I'm sure Brian will come to our preview night armed with lots of top quality information. If not, I'm sure he'll bring some decent biscuits. And if there are no treats of any kind, I'll just have to set my socially aware dogs on him...