Tucker, a beautiful 7 year old, brown & white haired orphaned spaniel of sorts sat in a big cage in Edison, NJ. Large, droopy ears, big soulful brown eyes and a bald patch on his butt. His eyes were ringed in red - he had some kind of allergies. 7 years old in dog time - is equivalent to 49 years in human time. Really who would purposelly adopt a 49 year old, balding, red eyed guy as your new best friend. Most people walked by the cage and thought, that ones going no where. Even the rescue staff had some secret doubts that Tucker wouldn't be adoptable. You see most families coming in before the holidays are looking for those bright eyed puppies that squeal with delight and wag their little tails like crazy or pure breed dogs that for some reason were left to a rescue force. Tucker, a wise old 7 year old, didn't get up or wag his tail when you came near the cage. He just looked up at you to see if there was a treat in your hand or maybe he was trying to figure out if you were going to let him out of the cage. Either way, there was little reaction from Tucker as we stood in front of his cage but there was something about his eyes and hair color that let you know that one day he was loved by someone, that he was a beautiful handsome guy - he was just another side effect of our economy. When the Animal Rescue staff asked if I wanted to take him out of the cage - I thought yeah - I just wanted to pet him without having bars in between us. The staff quickly took Tucker out of the cage and we walked to the front of the building with him - he was playful for such an adult dog, he was sweet and listened to the rescue staff about not jumping up and sitting and "doing his business". Wow, from caged and sleeping dog to this lively young guy in an instant, just wanting to walk and play and be pet. The rescue staff put Tucker back in his cage and gave me some of his background. How sad to think that someone left this poor guy home alone, unkempt, flea and tick ridden and then finally gave him up to a shelter. Its sad for the dog and sad for the family because we have records that Tucker was taken care of for the first 5 years of his life.
However, if you ever experienced working with some of the rescue organizations, one would think that their method of weeding out new potential adopters should be applied to the human population as well. Four pages of screening questions, why do you want a dog, where will the dog sleep, who will be the primary care taker of the dog, do you have other pets, who is their doctor, do you have a fenced in yard, will you take care of a "special" needs dog...Does anyone ask these questions to the "16 and pregnant crowd"? Listen we've spent enough time teaching our children all about sex - as if they wouldn't figure it out for themselves - let's get them to answer the four page questionnaire about adopting a dog to scare them off of having a baby. Even a baby boomer like The DNA Lady was scared off by the amount of responsibility implied in the doggie rescue questionnaire. I decided to put such an action on hold, until I could think about it more. It has only been since 1968 that I wanted a dog. Let's give it more time.
But Tucker's rescue organization saw a potential adoptor in me and the very next week, when I went back to "see" Tucker with my better half - so he could get to know Tucker - I found myself in a shopping frenzy with the store representative buying Tucker's $200 worth of food, toys, blankets, beds, bones and matching leash - dark brown of course. In the course of half an hour, Tucker was riding in the back of my car - home to my house. My better half went to do that thing he does best - he watched a football game in a corner of the house he has declared "the he man's women haters club" - that is, I stay out of the room when he is watching "men in uniforms". So I walked Tucker incessantly, so that there were no first day accidents. But then Tucker made his way into the "he man's women haters club" and that is when we realized - Tucker is a man's dog. He parked his 63 pound self in my better half's lap, nuzzling his nose between hip and chair and made it clear that he needed to be pet, and pet by a man - not that woman who keeps walking me. Tucker also makes it clear to my neighbors that he prefers the company of men. Wagging his tail as he barks like crazy at every man that walks by, and ignoring any of the women. Tucker is a man's dog. My first dog in 40 years and he is a man's dog.
That got me thinking, what if Tucker was a hunting dog. Maybe that is why he enjoys rough housing in the snow with my husband, my neighbor and my neighbor's dog - Buddy. So I did a little reading on the breed that he most resembles - but when you look at Tucker although Spaniel first comes to mind, you also see "Pointer" - as when Sushi the cat comes into the room and Tucker "points" at her - just learned that that behavior comes right before the pounce... Or the red-highlights in his coat - does he have Irish Setter in him? Would an Ancestry DNA Test determine that his Ancestor's were from Ireland? As my neighbor said, he has the red high-lights but didn't have to pay for them. Then there are times that I look at the markings on his head and I see St. Bernard - thankfully there's not much drooling. If you read all the books on these breeds, you'd be scared to adopt this Tucker.
So the other day, I decided to indulge myself yet again, and I bought a Doggie DNA Kit. There's a catch, doing a DNA collection on a dog is not as easy as doing a DNA test on a baby. For one thing, the dog is tired of me chasing him with pills for his allergies, spray for his dry skin, baby wipes to clean the insides of his droopy ears and a brush for that curly reddish brown coat. So he sees me with these great big Q-Tips coming at him, and runs behind the couch, runs behind the kitchen table or as he did last night - shows me he has 42 teeth and he will use them. Anyway, I cornered him and pushed the great big Q-Tip under his flappy gums and hopefully got enough Doggie DNA for the laboratory to determine how many breeds are present in Tucker, what are the personality traits and health issues specific to the breeds and some other special advice about a dog named Tucker. Stay tuned for the outcome - as we come to know more about Tucker we'll keep you posted. The DNA Test should return in a week or so - let's see if our guess is correct.
If you adopted a dog and would like to know more about the breeds present contact The DNA Lady. While we cannot offer Animal DNA testing in our office, we can meet you at a local dog park and perform a Doggie DNA Test on your four legged best friend.