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Dogspotting is the Game You Didn’t Know You Needed

Learn how dogspotting can bring joy to your everyday life.

Guys, dogspotting has changed my life.

I keep saying that to my friends and they keep giving me odd looks, but it’s true. When’s the last time you saw a dog? Well, I can recall precisely how many dogs I saw just so far today, what breeds they were, and what they were doing. And it’s been a good day — I’m up 6 points at this point. But the day’s not over — I might spot more dogs! My daily record is +32.

Spotting dogs has made me happy in a super-simple way: It’s opened my eyes to my neighborhood and given my circle of friends something funny to chat about. 

Look, I’m not a dog person like some people are dog people. I won’t turn down a good boy who comes up looking for a scratch around the ears, but I don’t ogle dogs or talk to them in a baby voice. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m like a 6 or 7 when it comes to dogs. 

So you don’t have to be a natural-born dog-lover to dogspot. You just have to be pretty okay with dogs and open to bringing some fun to your day with a silly observational game. 

There are official rules, which come from a Facebook group that formed years ago. I’ll list them here, but just know that there’s a lot of room for interpretation — which is most of the fun. I’ve adapted the rules for my own scoring system. 

Object of the game

To spot dogs, then assign each a point value (positive or negative) to each and keep a running tally through your day. You’re really only competing with yourself, unless you can convince your friends that this game will change their lives so that they start playing, too. 

Rules

Dogs you already know or who live in your neighborhood don’t count. No manufacturing spots by seeking out dog parks or pet stores. You have to see the actual, living dog (not an image of a dog) with your own eyes. For some of your more unbelievable scores, you’ll want to snap a pic as proof for friends, but documentation is not required. We’re on the honor system here. 

If you see a dog, ask yourself these four questions:

1 – Do you know the dog? If you do, then ignore it and move on with your day. If not, progress through the rest of the criteria. 

2 – How big is the dog? This game is biased against small dogs — the bigger the dog, the higher the point value. Those are the rules and I abide by them, but if you don’t like it, then change the rules for your own version of dogspotting and enjoy to your heart’s content. I’m not here to tell you how to run your life. 

3 – What is the dog doing? If the dog is doing something glorious — like hanging its head out the window of a moving car — you get extra points. If the dog is doing something shameful — like barking at a child — you lose points. 

4 – Is the dog part of a set? If you spot more than one dog connected together in some way, you can multiply your score. 

So that’s the simple process by which the game unfolds: Spot a dog and ask yourself: Do I know this doggo? Is it smol or chonky? What’s that flufferbutt doing? Is that woofer rolling with a crew? 

Having assessed the spot, now it’s time to assign points.

Points

Size: As I said, the “orthodox” rules are clearly biased against small dogs. I share that bias, personally, but you may not — it does not reflect poorly on your character, so relax. Here are the point allotments based on size:

  • -2 for a small dog. I define a small dog as one that you could easily and confidently hold in the air with one hand.
  • +1 for a medium-sized dog, like a border collie or English foxhound or Airedale terrier. I count Corgis here because short legs aren’t their fault. 
  • +2 for a full-sized, large dog — like a retriever or labrador or German shepherd. 
  • +5 for a big dog — your woofers, like St. Bernards or Great Danes. 

Puppies receive points for their full-size breed. Actually, I assign puppies 1.5x normal breed points because of cuteness and rarity. So, for example, a Husky pupper receives 1.5 x 2 points for a large dog = 3 points. 

Activity: If the dog is doing nothing out of the ordinary, there are no points assigned here. If they are doing something glorious and you deserve bonus points for spotting them. If they are doing something shameful, you lose points. 

The basic distinction between glorious and shameful in my book is this: When you see the dog, do you want to say, “Oh, he’s a good boy.” If so, it’s glorious and you get a bonus. If not, it’s either neutral (no points) or shameful (negative points). 

The official rules offer a number of examples, so check those out, but this is where you just get to act like Russian judges at the Olympics: with all the authority you can manufacture, pronounce a point total that reflects your gut reaction. That’s right: just make that sh*t up. And it’s even better if your judgment elicits controversy because that’s a fun, meaningless spat to get into with friends.

Some examples from dogs I’ve spotted recently:

  • -4 points for shameful transport: If you see any lap dog being carried in a stroller, you’re in the hole -6 in one glance (-2 for a tiny dog, -4 for shameful activity). I once saw a thicc corgi being carried by its owner on a beach. It looked like a mom hauling a fat, petulant toddler over sand — a bad look. (+1 for a medium dog, -4 for activity = -3 total)
  • -2 points for a dog popping a squat in someone’s yard. Too many times, I’ve been thrilled to spot a dog, only to have the points wiped out as they dropped a dookie. As the official rules state, “The shame is on you for looking, not the dog.”
  • +2 points for doing some kind of athletic activity. I spotted a dog this week catching (and returning) a frisbee — he was a good boy and I walked away with +4 points.
  • +3 for any dog giving an “awoo.” Irresistible.
  • +5 points for a service dog trained to help a hooman — they are the real heroes.

Multispot: If you see two or more dogs connected together in some way, assess each dog’s individual score, then multiply the total by the number of dogs involved. 

To qualify for a multispot, the dogs must be working together somehow. So, spotting two owners walking dogs on the same block doesn’t count as a multispot. Spotting one owner walking two dogs at the same time does. 

For example, one owner walking three medium doggos who are behaving themselves: +1 for each dog, neutral points for behavior = +3 points for size and activity. Then multiply by 3 for the multispot bonus (three dogs attached to one human) = +9 points.

This can go south quickly, though, if you multispot small dogs together. I saw two toy poodles peeking out of a mesh backpack on my way through the airport once and was devastated. -2 points each for size, -4 points each for shameful transport = -12 points. Then I had to multiply that by 2 for the multispot bonus. It wiped out my whole day. 

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I promise you, dogspotting will change your life. I’ll bet dollars to donuts you’ll see a dog today at some point — a dog you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Then you’ll notice that you noticed that doggo, and you’ll start to run the calculation through your head, and then you’ll say to yourself, “Look at me, I’m dogspotting!” Share with a friend and you’ll have a fun game to play together. 

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