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Tag: test

The DNA results are in on Pig

pig1

They say everything has a beginning, a middle and an end, but when it comes to an Alabama dog named Pig, she seems to have gotten short-changed on that middle part.

Between her sizable head and her rear end, there’s not much real estate, and as a result of her abbreviated torso, taking her out in public has always led to a lot of stares, and a lot of questions — chief among them, “What kind of dog is that?”

What accounts for Pig’s unusual appearance is called short spine syndrome, a birth defect that prevents the spine from fully forming and often makes everyday tasks — like running, jumping and eating — difficult.

Dogs with the disorder — though it can compress their organs and lead to health problems as they grow — generally can lead normal lives, and reach their full life expectancy.

They can also, as in Pig’s case, become international celebrities.

Pig developed a large following after appearing at this year’s Do Dah Day festival in Birmingham. She was featured in a story on AL.com, and her Facebook page, “Pig the Unusual Dog,” created in June, has more than 76,500 followers.

pig2Now, following up on just what it is that makes Pig Pig, AL.com reports that her owner, Kim Dillenbeck of Helena, has received the results of a DNA test she had conducted on the dog to determine what breeds are in her.

A Wisdom Panel test says Pig is a Boxer, Chow Chow, American Staffordshire Terrier mix.

Dillenbeck who has heard guesses ranging from her dog being half rabbit to half not there, was surprised by the results.

“Everybody thought Akita,” Dillenbeck said. “I was was thinking something like a smaller dog, but I was wide open … Pig has all these interesting traits, and there are so many breeds out there.”

Other breeds showing up in the test results as possibilities include Portuguese Water Dog, Alaskan Klee Kai, Scottish deerhound, Lakeland terrier and Maltese.

Pig weighs in at just 16 pounds, much less than one of her siblings, who doesn’t have the disorder and weighs just under 40 pounds.

Dillenbeck’s experience with Pig led her to form the nonprofit Pig’s Foundation to help raise funds for people and organizations rescuing animals. Another mission of the foundation is to raise awareness that animals who look unusual can still have a happy life.

“Pig is her own breed,” Dillenbeck said. “To me, she is just one in a million. As much as I can see her potential in all these breeds, she is still just Pig.”

(Photos: Mark Almond / AL.com)

Iditadrug: Of Mackey, mushing and marijuana

mackeyThree-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey may have to mush without marijuana in next year’s race.

Iditarod Trail Committee officials have announced plans to test mushers for drugs and alcohol in March. Officials haven’t decided who will get tested, or when, where and how it will be done. “It might be random. It might be a group of mushers at a specific checkpoint,” said Stan Hooley, executive director of the committee.

Alaska law allows for personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, provided the use occurs at home. In addition, Mackey, as a throat cancer survivor, has a medical marijuana card that entitles him to use the drug legally for medical purposes.

Mackey admits marijuana has helped him stay awake and focused through the 1,100-mile race, but he insists it doesn’t give him an edge.

“It isn’t the reason I’ve won three years in a row,” Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News. ”I think it’s a little bit ridiculous,” he said of the new policy. ”It is a dog race, not a human race. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the race.”

While Iditarod dogs have long been tested for a lengthy list of prohibited substances, the humans they are pulling — despite the Iditarod having had an informal drug and alcohol policy since 1984 — never have.

Mackey doesn’t blame the Iditarod board for creating the new policy, but he contends he is being targeted by other mushers jealous of his three straight Iditarod titles.

Despite his medical marijuana clearance, Mackey said he will not pursue a therapeutic use exemption; instead, he’ll just abstain for a while.

“I’m going to pee in their little cup,” he said. “And laugh in their face.”

Police dog mistakenly euthanized

felonyA black Lab named Felony who worked for the police department in Howard Lake, Minnesota, escaped from his kennel, ended up at the local humane society and, after getting labeled aggressive, was euthanized.

Felony, 10 years old and nearing the end of his police career as a drug sniffer, was discovered missing on October 30 when a police officer arrived to pick him up for work.

Police immediately called the Wright County Humane Society. The dog wasn’t there. But he did end up there a day later when a Howard Lake resident found him and called the local dog catcher, KARE11 in the Twin Cities reported.

“Our officer contacted the Animal Humane Society on Friday evening shortly after contacting the dog catcher, said Chief Tracy Vetruba. “Unfortunately, at that time the dog catcher still had the dog, who he did not believe was our dog, and it ‘was’ our dog.”

With no tags or microchip on the dog,  a spokesperson for the Animal Humane Society said workers had no idea Felony was a K-9 officer. Felony was placed on a 5-day mandatory hold, during which he demonstrated aggressive behavior. Tests determined that he was dangerous and unadoptable, and Felony was euthanized, the humane society says.

“Our officers were devastated to learn that he was put down,” said Cheif Vetruba. “He will absolutely be missed by our officers.”

Howard Lake’s police chief will look into the events that led to Felony’s death as part of a larger examination of the department’s K-9 program, and he hopes to get a new dog for the department.

DNA testing saves dog from execution

petdnaIt took a DNA test to prove it, but Angie Cartwright — who lives in a town that bans pit bulls — has certified that her dog Lucey is only 12 percent bully breeds, and now she has her back.

Lucey had never bitten anyone; nor had she ever acted aggressively, according to the Salina Journal in Kansas. But she was scooped up by animal control officers.

The officers explained that they were taking Lucey to a veterinarian for a breed check — a professional opinion (meaning veterinarian’s guess) to determine Lucey’s breed.

Since 2005, Salina has had a ban on owning unregistered pit bulls and mixed breeds that are predominantly pit bull.

Cartwright got approval to have her vet conduct DNA breed analysis test, ther results of which led to the return of her dog.

The blood test found that a minor amount of Lucey’s DNA came from Staffordshire bull terrier genes — just over 12 percent.

“Maybe this can save someone’s animal, hopefully,” Cartwright said. Read more »

Mixed up dog — one last dance with DNA

What do these four breeds have in common — besides getting labeled as vicious from time to time?

All four (Rottweiler, Akita, chow and Staffordshire terrier, aka pit bull) are in my dog Ace, according to yet another DNA test (last one, I promise). The best guess now is that one of Ace’s parents was a Rottweiler, the other a combination of Akita, Chow and pit bull.

Together, they formed this creature:

How the product of four “feared” breeds could be such a gentle giant might be explained several ways.

For starters, they aren’t vicious breeds — just breeds that, due to the acts of a few members, have seen themselves smeared as a whole. Secondly, we would contend, when you start mixing up breeds, though some purebred purists might be offended by it, some wonderful things can happen. Third, maybe, just maybe, nurture is more important than nature.

Then again, maybe DNA testing — scientifically solid as it may be — isn’t always the full and final answer.

After all this was our third test, and our third different diagnosis.

The first DNA analysis was performed in connection with the Baltimore Sun series, “Hey Mister What Kind of Dog is That?” The Canine Heritage test from Metamorphix, using a cheek swab taken from Ace, determined he was Rottweiler and Chow. At the time, the test checked for 38 breeds.

The second came after Mars Veterinary offered us a free Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis kit, which can detect the presence of more than 150 breeds. This one required a visit from a vet to take Ace’s blood, and the results showed he was 50 percent Rottweiler, 25 percent Akita, and 25 percent other unknown breeds.

While we were waiting for our results on that one, Canine Heritage got back in touch to let us know the newer version of their  test — still using a cheek swab — could now detect 100 breeds. They offered us a free re-test, so we swabbed Ace’s mouth again.

The results of that one arrived in the mail last week.

Makers of the tests say it helps dog owners better understand their pets’ behavior, and better be on the lookout for potential medical problems, many of which are prevalent among certain breeds. In that regard, testing a dog’s DNA can serve a useful purpose. But there’s a potential for misusing them as well — if, for instance, they ever become a tool for enforcing breed bans.

In that case, Ace, with his components, would be Public Enemy No. 1. Should that ever come to pass, none of this ever happened, and Ace is actually a, uh … Portuguese water dog/Labradoodle mix.

Does what’s in the mix really matter?

Now that I know Ace is a “Rokita” mix (50 percent Rottweiler, 25 percent Akita, 25 percent anybody’s guess), what can I do with the information?

And what of Elliot? Does knowing his somewhat fuzzier lineage — 25 percent golden retriever, 25 percent boxer, and 50 percent unknown — provide any information that might be helpful to him and his owners?

The experts at Mars Veterinary, makers of the Wisdom Panel MX mixed breed analysis, say yes — that knowing what’s in your mutt can help you better understand his or her behavior, and better be on the lookout for potential medical problems.

With Ace, they say, I should be aware of the potential for hip and elbow dysplasia, as both of the known breeds in him are prone to that. I should keep him on the lean side (something I’ve been unable to do with myself), and consider supplementing his diet with glucosamine, for optimal joint health. Also, since Rottweilers and Akitas are both prone to cataracts and other eye problems, I should keep an eye on his eyes.

With Elliot, hip dysplasia is also a concern, as, later in life, is cancer, which has a high incidence in boxers and golden retrievers. Elliot, based on the breeds found in him, could also be predisposed to skin issues, allergies and hypothyroidism.

Depressing as it all sounds – I, for one, would rather not know what afflictions lay ahead for me – I’ll admit that the information is somewhat useful.

Read more »

Ciao, chow chow, I’m Akita now

 

My dog’s lineage took another wild swerve last night when it was revealed that — contrary to an earlier DNA test that showed him to be Rottweiler and chow — he is actually Rottweiler and Akita.

The two detectable breeds in my dog Ace (left) and Elliot (right) were revealed at our “ohmidog! Identity Crisis and Breed Reveal Party,” which raised $500 for the Franky Fund for sick and injured animals at Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS).

While Ace’s mix was correctly guessed by a member of the crowd that gathered at the Idle Hour Tavern for the reveal, nobody nailed the two breeds that showed up in Elliot Gould: boxer and golden retriever.

Kelly Gould, Elliot’s owner — though she has nothing against boxers and golden retrievers — immediately demanded a recount, saying the DNA test’s findings were not at all in line with what she suspected.

Elliot, the winner of our “What’s in Your Mutt” contest, spent the day before the party at my house, where he behaved, in true mutt fashion, magnificently. At the Idle Hour, guests sized up Ace and Elliot, and tossed their guesses, along with their Franky Fund donations, into a fishbowl.

At 8 p.m., the envelopes were opened and the test results were announced. The two winners — in Elliot’s case, the person who came closest, picking boxer/shepherd — will receive ohmidog! sweatshirts. From the rest of the entries, three more winners were drawn to receive dog treat baskets, courtesy of K-9 Kraving Dog Food.

Thanks to K-9 Kraving, the Idle Hour, Mars Veterinary (makers of the Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis test kit), Dr. Johnny Slaughter (the vet who took the blood samples), and all those who showed up for the party.

(Tomorrow: Now what? We’ll take a look at what, if anything, the test results mean — to the dogs and their caretakers.)

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