Animal Doctor USA

Solver Stories

Dogs like to do what we do. So it’s only a matter of time, right?

Credit... Jenna Kim/The New York Times

Deb Amlen

March 30, 2022

Here at Gameplay, we are all about the science. Whether it’s digging into the psychology of why ENO appears so often in the New York Times Crossword (something about airports), or seeing how much sugar the digital puzzles editor Sam Ezersky can eat before he loses the ability to solve a puzzle (this really happened), Gameplay is on the job. Just imagine us wearing white lab coats and glasses that make us look like intellectuals.

Wordle — the game that asks solvers to guess a five-letter word in six tries — has become an international hit among humans, but we wanted to test our hypothesis that the excitement extends beyond those with opposable thumbs. So we gave dogs of different breeds — and one cat — a smartphone with Wordle on it and took careful notes.

For science.

Beagle (1/6): Somehow managed to type in SNACK and hit “enter.” One correct letter. Dog viewed the changing square colors as a reward and tried to eat the phone.

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Credit... Jenna Kim/The New York Times

Border collie (0/6): Wasn’t happy until we went outside and placed the device in the middle of a large meadow. Ran in concentric circles around it, trying in vain to herd it back to us. Spent the rest of the trip back apologizing.

Bulldog (2/6): Lost device in the folds of his skin. Accidentally entered two decent guesses when it rolled over during a nap.

Chihuahua (6/6): Curled up on top of the device for warmth so she could stop shivering. Perfect fit. Accidentally butt-dialed the game several times while shaking. Still didn’t get the answer.

Doberman pinscher (0/6): Barked at the game for four hours.

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Credit... Jenna Kim/The New York Times

German shepherd (0/6): Pledged complete and eternal loyalty to the game — surely it must be superior to a dog if it was made by a human. Wordle is family now. Must protect Wordle at all costs.

Golden retriever (1/6): Amazingly, got it in one try. We are assuming this was a lucky guess. Smiled blankly at the game for the rest of the time, waiting for it to do something-anything-hi-there-wait-where-are-you-going-can-I-come-with-you??

Labrador retriever (6+/6): Typed in BALLS and hit “enter.” No correct letters. Typed in BALLS and hit “enter.” No correct letters. Typed in BALLS and hit “enter.” No correct letters. (Repeated until we took the device away.)

Pit bull (0/6): Cautiously sniffed device and rolled over to have his belly rubbed.

Poodle (3/6): Caught on quickly but complained that tapping the buttons ruined her manicure. Was upset that there weren’t more French words in the game.

Saint Bernard (0/6): Shorted out the device. Nearly a quart of drool was later extracted from it.

Cat (0/6): Stared at game screen with fascination before knocking device off the table.

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Credit... Jenna Kim/The New York Times

Join us here to solve Crosswords, The Mini and other games by The New York Times.

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