A few weeks ago, my dad emailed me a link to a New York Times article about the new — and slightly ridiculous — products available to cultivate “intelligence, manners, and communication skills” in our pets. The piece touched upon everything from an interactive feeding product to an electronic activity monitor to smartphone apps for dogs.
The writer tested many of these products on his own pet, including a doggie DNA test that, according to the company, can “help you understand your dog’s unique appearance, behaviors and wellness needs.” You can then customize your mixed-breed dog’s training, exercise, and nutrition programs based on his genetic background.
At the very least, you can learn that the mixed-breed Maltipoo you rescued from the Nebraska Humane Society is actually a purebred Bichon Frise.
Here’s what happened…
Five-and-a-half years ago, I stumbled upon a four-month-old male Maltipoo puppy available for adoption from the Humane Society, and we brought him home that night. He was somewhat of an impulse purchase; we knew we wanted to get a dog soonish but weren’t actively looking.
While we were playing with him in a meet-and-greet room, JB and I questioned whether it was a good idea to bring him home. We still had two weeks left in our apartment before we were moving into our new house, and the building wasn’t exactly “pet friendly.” But when the Humane Society volunteered told us that there were three other couples waiting to meet him after us, we simultaneously replied that we wanted him.
We named our small white puppy Briscoe after Law & Order’s Detective Lennie Briscoe, who was played by one of my favorites, Jerry Orbach. I actually lived in the same New York City apartment building as Jerry and would occasionally see him in the elevator and the lobby. It was back in 2004 that I decided I’d name my future dog after his L&O character.
For nearly five years, we told people that Briscoe was part-Maltese, part-Poodle — and for nearly five years, people commented that he looked a lot like a Bichon Frise. Even his groomer thought he looked more Bichon than Maltese! But I grew up with a Bichon Frise, and Briscoe is much taller and lankier than my childhood dog, Timmy. Of course, my dog was the runt of his litter.
Then at one of Briscoe’s recent grooming appointments, I noticed he looked nearly identical to two other dogs getting haircuts — both Bichons. From afar, I even thought one of them was Briscoe!
So when JB saw that a doggie DNA kit was deeply discounted on Fab, we decided to find out definitively what breed of dog Briscoe is. We swabbed his cheek, mailed in the sample, and waited for an email with the results.
I was sure we were going to learn that his genetic background was Poodle and Bichon. So you can imagine our surprise when his family tree showed him to be a purebred Bichon Frise.
And to think what we COULD have paid for Briscoe if we had gotten him from a breeder instead of the Humane Society!
What type of dog do you have? If you own a mixed breed, would you ever perform a doggie DNA test on him or her?
(Photos were taken on April 26, 2014 at Bark in the Park, an annual fundraising event for Omaha’s dog parks.)