COLUMNISTS

Embarking up Stella's family tree

Susan Manzke
The mystery of Stella's ancestry is revealed.

Last year, I decided to swab my old dog, Sunny’s cheek to collect his DNA. I’m so happy I did this. Six months later his age caught up to him, only leaving me with memories.

Sunny had a long list in his DNA background. Here it is again: 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.

Unless purebred, most rescue dogs have a long list of breeds in their DNA.

When Stella came into my life, I decided not to wait until the end of her life to find out what her genes said about her. She is just so odd looking, my guesses were all over the doggie world. Her brown/tan coat directed me in many directions.

My wiggly pup didn’t object when I swabbed her cheek for her sample. This time I used a Dog DNA Test from a company called Embark.

Susan shows off the Embark Test kit she used to capture Stella’s DNA.

It took several weeks to get an answer to Stella’s DNA swab. Eventually, I received an email saying the answer to my doggie questions could be found on the Embark website.

I couldn’t wait to find out. Now I know. I didn’t tell anyone right away. I waited until Camp Manzke and made my family guess. A couple of their guesses included German Shepherd, Dachshund, and a lot of other breeds.

Take time now to look at a photo of Stella and take a guess. What do you think her parents and grandparents might be?

When I put in my request for Stella, I was told she would grow to be less than 40 pounds. Sunny weighed about 70 pounds. A couple of times as a frisky young dog, he charged the end of his leash going after a rabbit. On those days, Sunny got away from me. Good thing he always came back.

As of this writing, my four-month-old dog weighs 20 pounds. I have my fingers crossed that 40 will be the top weight for her. Right now, when very frisky, she can be a handful even at half that weight.

Susan's new pup, Stella, loves to lay among the cool, green leaves of her hosta plants.

Sometimes, Stella thinks I’m a dog toy. When she gets too rough, I give her a timeout, like the toddler she is. Oh, I don’t put her in her crate. That would make her dislike the crate. I just tie her leash to a doorknob and walk away.

This kind of timeout only lasts 20 seconds. Leaving her longer wouldn’t help her learn.

As we move forward together, life is getting easier. There are good days and some bad, but luckily more good ones.

Stella had her first puppy training class at PetSmart. She was so excited she wet the store floor. She also wiggled and jumped during the class. Many times the instructor used Stella as an example. “Let’s see if Stella will sit,” said the trainer. My pup sat, but the next minute she went to leap toward another dog—we have a long way to go, but we’re both making progress.

You’ve waited long enough. Here’s what Embark said about my rescue dog.

Mixed Breed:

  • 37.8% Beagle
  • 29.4% American Pit Bull Terrier
  • 19.6% Great Pyrenees
  • 6.6% Cocker Spaniel
  • 6.6% Miniature Schnauzer

How many readers had all five breeds? If someone guessed Great Pyrenees, you get a gold star. That wasn’t one I ever considered.

I can see a lot of beagle in my girl. She likes to bark, especially when my three hens walk near the house. Hearing a barking dog is very odd to me. Sunny wasn’t much of a barker, but I sure know when someone pulls into my driveway these days.

Stella and I are on the great adventure of being companions. So far, so good. I think we’re a good match.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; susanmanzke@gmail.com; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.