Posted on July 15, 2009
The Wisdom of Knowing…… or Not
Our puppy Quinn came to us via a local rescue organization. Apparently, he was next in line for the needle at an overcrowded shelter in Bakersfield. Although he has been part of our family for six months now, I remain clueless about his breed ancestry. This is unusual for me- I’m like one of those people who guesses people’s weights at the circus. Only, what I’m good at guessing is which breeds have gone into the making of a mutt. I can watch the dog for a minute or two, then accurately size up his lineage. Quinn, on the other hand, has me completely bamboozled. Sometimes I think he’s a Chihuahua-Border Collie mix. At other times there’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Papillon, or Sheltie looking at me. And, every once in awhile, he’s got Basenji written all over his sweet face. I’ve included some Quinn photos so you can have a look for yourself.
I’ve been toying with the idea of obtaining a DNA determination of Quinn’s genetic makeup. I have first hand experience with a DNA testing company called Wisdom Panel™. Some of my clients have used their service, and I recently gave a Wisdom Panel™ screening to one of my nurses as a gift to use on her adorable mutt named Izzy. All that’s needed is a small blood sample. DNA is extracted from the blood cells and screened for 157 American Kennel Club breeds. While the testing is far from perfect, it does seem to provide some useful information, especially when one of the parents happens to be a purebred.
So, what’s the downside to running the DNA test? Yes, there is some cost involved, but the truth of the matter is, finally having an answer would eliminate all the fun of conjecturing about who Quinn’s parents are! His appearance inspires curiosity. When Quinn and I are out and about, guaranteed most passersby will ask, “What kind of dog is that?” My response is usually, “He’s a bona fide mutt from Bakersfield,” or “I haven’t a clue!” If I’m in an impish mood I might even make up a ridiculous answer such as, “He’s a fox!” or “Why this is a Romanian Burrowing Ferret Hound.”
Any response I choose invariably ignites more conversation. The person who asked the question and I conjecture about “what” Quinn is based on his appearance and temperament. We then transition to conversation about their dogs’ pedigrees and personalities, both past and present. By the time the discussion ends, Quinn and I feel as though we’ve made a new friend. What would happen if Quinn’s breed origin was known and I answered their inquiry with, “He’s a Spaniel Chihuahua mix”? I doubt that the ensuing conversation would be nearly as lively and entertaining.
I will continue to carefully observe Quinn’s conformation and behavior as he transitions into adulthood. Whether or not I ever learn more about his pedigree, I do know with certainty is that my little Quinn is 100 percent cute! And that just may be all I need to know.
Feel free to send me your best guess about Quinn’s pedigree (http://speakingforspot.com/contact.html). If ever I do decide to run the Wisdom Panel™ I’ll let you know if you were close!
Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,
Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.
Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot
Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –