Who are you Sunny dog?

Susan Manzke
Sunny, left, and Booker as puppies.

Twelve years ago, Bob and I adopted two dogs, Sunny and his brother, Booker. At that point, we knew nothing about their parentage. All I knew is that they were adorable puppies and instead of getting one, we came home with two. (Too bad Booker had health issues. He died before he turned three.)

Sunny has been the best four-footed friend I could imagine. He has been a good walking partner. Too bad for both of us, my friend is showing his advanced age. Sunny’s hearing is pretty much gone. If I want to get his attention I stomp on the floor.

Sunny as a puppy shows off a new toy.

Sunny and Booker came up from the south with no real history. We were told they were brothers, but I had my doubts.

“So, what kind of dogs are they?” friends asked.

We didn’t know, but from the size of their feet we knew they would be large dogs.

When we took them to the vet, we asked him to give us an idea of what they could be. “Maybe they have some Rottweiler or St. Bernard. It could be they had the same mother and different fathers.”

Sunny and Booker were brothers, or so we were told. Sunny was dark and Booker was light. Sunny had more of a square build and Booker was thinner.

Sunny and Booker at 2 years of age. Booker, plagued then unknown health issues, would live only a year longer.

Losing Booker was extremely painful, but I think we were left with the better of the two. Booker killed chickens and ran wild. Sunny was and is more laid back.

Over the last two years, my daughter Rachel and her family adopted two dogs. The first one came at the beginning of 2020. Joy is her name. After having her for a short time, Rachel did a DNA test to see what heritage her rescue dog had.

Daughter Rachel's rescue dog, Joy enjoyed her car ride.

I didn’t know that dogs could have their DNA tested. I was interested in the outcome, too. Joy’s top ancestors were 25% border collie, 12% American Staffordshire Terrier, and 12% Chow Chow.

My guesses for Sunny’s heritage included Rottweiler and Bernese Mountain Dog. Both seemed plausible. Having some Bernese Mountain Dog in him would give meaning to all the heavy winter undercoat Sunny always got. Also, all the shedding he did and does.

But in actuality, I only knew that Sunny was a dog, a good dog.

This fall I looked up how much it cost to do a DNA test on Sunny. One was around one hundred dollars. Since knowing his DNA wouldn’t make any difference, I put it on the back burner. That amount of money could pay for quite a bit of dog and cat food.

An Internet popup told me that one of the tests was on sale. The price was now around $75. I still thought about it.

One day after watching my old dog sleeping, I figured I’d better do the test soon before it was too late. So, I sent for the kit.

Two swabs needed to be swished inside Sunny’s cheeks. He didn’t object at all. Afterward, I returned the swabs to the company, Wisdom Panel, for testing.

It took a few weeks to get an answer. Now I know. Sunny doesn’t have any Rottweiler in him at all. Neither does he have St. Bernard or Bernese Mountain Dog.

According to Sunny’s DNA test, they detected 15 different breeds in his DNA.

Here’s the list: 33% Siberian Husky, 23% Boxer, 19% Chow Chow, 6 % American Pit Bull Terrier, 3% Cocker Spaniel, 2% Alaskan Malamute, 2% American Staffordshire Terrier, 2% Labrador Retriever, 1% Dalmatian, 3% German Shepherd Dog, 3% Collie, AND the best of all, 3% Chihuahua.

In the Wisdom Panel database, they found 18 possible relatives, but as these are only 3 and 4 percent matches, I won’t go looking for them.

Susan and her faithful, old walking companion.

I didn’t go deeper into Sunny’s DNA. I understand you can also learn about possible health issues. That might help a younger dog.

Now that I have Sunny’s DNA, I can’t help what would have happened if I was able to check Booker’s. Would they have matched? I’ll never know.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;