DNA Testing

There are those of us who never get to go out and pick a new pet — rather, they seem to pick us. You open your door one Animal loverday and there they are. Or you’re driving to work and you see the sad eyes of an abandoned cat or dog. Or the universe says it’s time for the Taylor household to have a new pet! For those like me, we can end up with a strange assortment of pets. Most of time we don’t know a lot about their background and never got a chance to meet mom and dad. We just open our hearts and love them and they love us back. Not a bad deal for either party.

As our new friend grows we notice certain traits and sometimes I find myself saying “He must have Lab in him,” or “That’s the Border Collie in her.” We sit around with our friend and look at the shape of their heads and the length of the tail and come up with what breed we think they are and argue our points. When we are at the vets we ask the vet to get their opinion, and when they have a different idea of our dog’s ancestry we will argue our point. We find ourselves telling the vet how he does this like a Beagle or she looks just like another German Shepherd-Collie mix you had as a child.

Well now all the guesswork can be put to the real test with DNA testing for dogs! That’s right, we can now test our dogs for their heritage. I know some of you may be thinking that it would take the fun out of guessing what Fido is mixed with, but it doesn’t, it just adds another level. And yes, you can still argue with the test results.

Let me tell you about my family’s fun with DNA testing.

Eight years ago I was looking for a playmate to keep my female Border Collie Australian Shepherd mix Suzie (Psycho Suzie). Suzie was nonstop full of energy and smart, smart, smart –  but also crazy. We never even saw her lay down until she was four years old. Needless to say I wanted a calmer dog. Still needed one with lots of energy to keep up with Suzie but with a calmness we hoped would rub off (Suzie was badly abused before she adopted us, but that is another story). So in comes Domino. I adopted Domino from the Border Collie rescue group out of South Carolina and what a beautiful boy he is; he is the poster child for a Border Collie. With his beautiful long black coat with majestic white mane encircling his neck, he could be on a Border Collie calendar.

As he settled in, the family noticed that he looked like a Border Collie on the outside but he did not have a single Border Collie trait. Hell, he won’t even fetch! Believe me some of the missing Border Collie traits were a blessing (anyone who knows how has Border Collies are, no matter how much we love them … can we say intense!?). But not Domino. When he is in the house he lays down and sleeps. No squeak toys for him, no bringing a ball over and dropping it at your feet, no following you everywhere you go in the house, in other words, no Border Collie traits! Not one! In this case even the vet and his groomer thought he was a Border Collie. Once when I explained to my vet that I thought Domino might be an impostor, he chuckled and told me to be thankful. After all, he knew Psycho Suzie!

Well, for the Christmas of 2009, I got a wonderful Christmas present from my son and his fiancée: a DNA kit from BioPet. I looked around at all of my dogs but my son made it clear that it was to be used on Domino to see once and for all if he was a Border Collie or an impostor…