Jon deVos: DNA " It’s not just for murderers anymore
We have two dogs. One is a second-hand Basset Hound named, Freeta Goodhome. She’s named in a futile attempt to show her who’s boss. Bassets are stubborn and contrary with a decidely ripe odor, and in that, Freeta is the standard by which others are to be judged. Unusual for second-hand dogs, Freeta came with AKC registration papers, so we’re confident she is a gorgeous, spoiled Basset Hound.
Our other dog is a small, yellow mutt that we also acquired, used, from the Granby shelter. We named him, Cuervo, because he’s a strong licker. Unlike the Basset Hound, he is of such dubious parentage that we got tired of people stopping, staring and asking, “Uh, what kind of dog is that?”
For the sake of conversation, we would assume a straight face and inform them that Cuervo is a Bulgarian Weaselhound. They’d stare a bit longer before saying, “Huh. Guess I’ve never seen one before.” We wondered ourselves and discussed it frequently. What mix of dog is he? Corgi? Shiba Inu? Shelty? Some kind of sheep dog?
Well, thanks to the miracle of modern entrepreneurialism, we no longer have to wonder. For the largest part of a hundred bucks, we chose among 3 million Google Doggy DNA testing labs, panting to get some of our money. By return mail, an envelope arrived. I held the goods aloft and quizzed my wife, “We spent 60 bucks on a Q-tip?”
A potentially fatal glare made me focus intently on the instructions.
We followed those directions and swabbed out the boy’s cheek, theoretically transferring enough genetic material to pinpoint his ancestry, then sent it off to BioPet Laboratories and sat back with smug looks to await the results.
Why’d we do it? Because we can.
According to BioPet puffery, the more you know about your dog’s breed the easier it becomes to understand and shape their behavior. Shape their behavior? Our expectations of our dogs’ behavior is that they will sleep, eat and pass gas. Anything beyond those lofty goals is a bonus.
To take the sting off a $60 dollar Q-tip, BioPet also sends you an Ancestry Analysis Certificate, suitable for framing, and a Behavior, Health and Personality Summary, which provides general information about each of the breeds found.
Finally, an official-looking white envelope appeared in the mail. We’d forced all our friends at gun-point to send money and breed guesses to veterinarian Shauna Omlie’s indigent pet fund. Finally, it was opening day. I couldn’t keep from wagging. Shauna read the results. There was a long paws, excuse me, a long pause before the small audience replied in unison, “He’s what?”
She repeated, “He’s mostly Basset Hound mixed with about an equal part Irish Setter with a little Shih Tzu running around in the back yard.” Everyone stared. In unison, they turned and looked down at Cuervo. Then everybody left. Basset Hound and Irish Setter? No way.
So we’re going to try again. The directions said to isolate the test victim from other dogs for a half hour prior to the swabbing to prevent cross-contamination. Apparently, Basset slobber is more enduring than previously expected.
The best use of doggy DNA testing is found in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva, where you must submit your dog’s DNA to City Hall, presumably to the Department of Poop Testing because if you don’t clean up after your mutt, the DPT takes a sample at the scene of the crime and you’re busted.
DNA, it’s not just for murderers anymore.
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