(Submitted by Skepticality listener Brian Utterback)

My wife and I walk our dog every afternoon at nearby trails and parks. My dog loves snow so we often go places that have little traffic in the winter and may not see anyone else during the walk.

Recently we went on a trail and as we were coming back we saw another dog coming down toward us. My dog is small and does not get along well with other dogs so when that happens it is memorable because I usually have to grab him and pick him up until we can assess the situation with the other dog.

In this case the other dog was friendly and was soon followed by her owner who likewise was friendly, so I put my dog down and we all chatted for a few minutes before continuing on our way.

While we had been walking we noticed a trail that we had never been on before, so the next day we went back to the same reservation and went on this other trail, which turned out to be much longer than we anticipated. It met up with the previous trail near the end. So as we came to the exact same spot where we met the dog the day before, bounding down the trail was the same dog again! Since I couldn’t be sure at a distance I had to scoop up my dog again and we reenacted the same scene, in the same place. We chatted with the owner again and went on our way back to the car. What are the odds?

Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 270.  Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog ICBS Everywhere, and Insight at Skeptics Society, and watch her on Virtual Skeptics.

The odds of meeting the same dog (with its owner) on the same trail are excellent.

People are creatures of habit, and returning to the same location to walk a dog is not surprising at all. While the second trail was new to the author, he notes that it connected to the trail they had been on the previous day, so it is likely that the other dog owner would choose it, either for the change of view or perhaps because she walks up via one trail and back via the other. The author does not mention the time of day, but I would bet that these events occurred around the same time of day.

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