The Impossibility of the Double Half-Inch Spaniel

The Impossibility of the Double Half-Inch Spaniel –
a cross-disciplinary study in nomenclature of spaniel encounters.

What is the difference between “the half-inch double spaniel” and “the double half-inch spaniel.” This cross-disciplinary study clarifies the nomenclature of various multi-spaniel[1] encounters, through the obvious lens of organic chemistry.

The half-inch spaniel is a spaniel sitting on your knees (or chest if you are lying down, which is not recommended with a spaniel anywhere in the room) with her front paws on your shoulders around your neck and her nose half an inch away from your nose.


The double half-inch spaniel would therefore be two spaniels each in the half-inch spaniel position, each sitting on both your knees with one paw on your left shoulder and the other paw on your right shoulder. It should be obvious from the Pauli Exclusion Principle that two spaniels cannot occupy the same space at the same time, even when they are mother and daughter. For that reason the double half-inch spaniel is clearly an impossibility.


The half-inch double spaniel on the other hand is exactly what it says – a double spaniel half an inch away. It is just like the six-inch double spaniel – only closer. One sitting on one knee and the other on the other knee. One might have paws wrapped around your neck but the other then could not. So usually one would have both her paws on your right shoulder and the other both on your left shoulder. From the six-inch double spaniel they simply advance their noses to the half-inch position.

This classic one-inch single spaniel photograph displayed is as close to the half inch double as any photo is ever going to get. This was the only snap I got with Sophie’s mouth closed. You will guess where her tongue was in all the other photos. Younger readers may recognise this as the 25 mm Spaniel.


Some people are confused because, whilst the classic double half-inch spaniel is prohibited by the laws of physics, they could well have experienced the lateral double half-inch spaniel. That is two spaniels sitting side by side on the sofa next to you both licking your left ear. (Technically that is of course the sinistro-lateral double HIS. Licking your right ear would be the dextro-lateral double HIS. But I will try to keep things simple for the puppies in the group.)


We can extend the treatment to nomenclature for the double half-inch spaniel, if for example one of the two is licking your nose whilst the other is licking your ear. Following the internationally established early convention for naming benzene derivatives, one on the nose and one on an ear would be an ortho-double half-inch spaniel. One licking one ear and the other licking the other ear would be a meta-double HIS.

However IUPAC nomenclature always begins at the nose and proceeds clockwise looking down, so in IUPAC terms, nose plus right ear is a 1,2 DHIS, nose plus left ear is a 1,6 DHIS. One licking each ear is strictly a 2,6 DHIS. One on each ear and one on the nose would of course be a 1,2,6 triple half-inch spaniel. Anybody who has three spaniels gets what they deserve!!

It should be obvious why a 1,4 DHIS is never observed. That would be one licking your nose and the other licking the back of your head. Since you are sitting on a chair or sofa it is evidently impossible for the second spaniel to get in position to lick the back of your head. (This of course is a classic example of steric hindrance.)


A more complex configuration occurs when two people are sitting side by side on a sofa and each is receiving the classic half-inch spaniel from a separate dog? If the dog sitting on your knee is the one licking your nose that is just a parallel double HIS (obviously). If on the other hand, each person’s nose is being licked by the dog sitting on the other person’s knee, that is only physically possible if one of you is sitting upside-down.[2] For both to have a spaniel sitting on their knee while one person (and spaniel) is upside-down, gravity must have been temporarily suspended for that person and dog. This clearly requires a zero-gravity environment (ZGE) for example on the International Space Station. So the proper name of that situation would be naturally be a ZGE crossover double HIS. Note that I will not be providing a photo of a ZGECDHIS any time soon. I am a minister, not an astronaut!

The author was previously chemistry consultant for Nelsons chemistry textbooks and Science Consultant for the Longman GCSE Dictionary 1989 ISBN 0582042666. Some think he missed his calling.

[1]  Please note that DiM is committed to equality and we recognise that other dogs are available. However the size differences between spaniels, Chihuahuas and Great Danes prohibit an exhaustive treatment. Correct nomenclature when the two dogs are of different breeds is definitely a post-graduate study.

[2] We recognise that this is not necessarily the case if one dog is a chihuahua and the other is a great dane. There is a PhD for somebody in extending this study!


Artistic Editor of FURRED WAY - Sophie with her mother Poppy and sister Willow are the founders of Dogs in Ministry

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