A couple of weeks ago, as I think I mentioned, we bought two canine DNA kits. Swabbing the inside of the gum and cheek of a wolverine puppy was not easy; she bucked and ducked and tried to bite the swab. But I think we got something and we stuck it in the special tube and stuck it in the special envelope and mailed it off.
The second kit was for the Wild Boy; he has never liked anyone messing with any part of his head (the time he had an eye infection and we were supposed to administer eye drops--well, let's just say we're lucky that it cleared up on its own). He bucked and leaped and thrashed and we did our best and mailed off that swab, too.
We have always told people that he's springer-Lab-coonhound, and sometimes we toss beagle in there, too. Our reasoning: he's speckled, like a springer; he has a short, sleek Lab-like coat (and I think every dog in Minnesota is cut with Lab anyway), and the coonhound comes from his coonhound-like face and the fact that he races up the sides of trees, as coonhounds do. We add beagle sometimes because he sort of has beagle ears. And all of these breeds are prey-driven creatures, and Riley is very, very prey-driven.
But we have never known for sure. And once Rosie joined the family and we saw that she looked absolutely nothing like her Aussie-cattle dog-blue heeler mother--nothing at all--we were very curious about the father. Possibly Lab, but she also has something sort of pit-bullish about the shape of her head. (And could I love a pit bull? Well, if it turns out that this what she is, then yes, we already do love a pit bull.)
On Thursday, I got an e-mail from the lab: Riley's results are in. I was pretty excited to click on the link, and then completely baffled when I read the results.
On one parent's side (let's say the mom, though they don't specify): the mom's great-grandparents come from Border collie parents on one side, mysterious mixed breed on the other; mom's grandparents come from Border collie on one side, mixed breed on the other; mom comes from Border collie and mixed breed.
The other parent--I'm saying the dad--comes from border collie and shetland sheepdog great-grandparents, and the same for the grandparents and the dad.
So Riley, they say, is Border collie mix mixed with Border collie-aussie mix.
And those mysterious mixed breeds?
They say that he's 11 percent Havanese; and then less than 5 percent of collie, shih tzuh, dacschund and Bernese mountain dog. Given that as a puppy he was terrified of Bernese mountain dogs--there was a Bernese training class that immediately followed his obedience class, and he had to run the gantlet of those gigantic dogs every time we left the school, and each time he screamed and quivered--this is rather ironic.
But is it accurate? I look at these dogs and I see nothing but herders. He has never exhibited any herding instincts, but is purely prey-driven. None of these have speckles, or run up trees. I'm scratching my head, wondering if somehow Riley was hoarding a bit of Boscoe's DNA inside his gum and that's what we picked up on the swab.
So now we await Rosie's results with even more interest. If they don't mention the breeds that we know her mother to be, then we have wasted $100. If they do mention those breeds, then we have been giving Riley short shrift all these years. Doug has already taken to calling him "the Border collie" with a grave new respect. (Or maybe he's teasing.) If Riley knows the truth, he's not saying a word.
UPDATE: Huh---Google shows me that there is such a thing as a speckled Border collie. The plot thickens....