Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Bruno by Any Other Name...

I tend to take Bruno to the puppy store at least twice a week, because every time we go, he becomes a little more accustomed to all the smells, and every time we see another puppy in public and it doesn't result in a fight, that's a good, positive thing. We've made huge progress in just a few months, and just this week I actually got him to sit, with a big German Shepherd only four feet away from him.

That's huge. HYOOGE, I tell you.

Twice weekly trips to the puppy store mean we don't generally come home with much from each trip. A new chew rope here. A bag of goodies there. Today, we went for a frisbee, because Bruno's such an amazing jumper, I figure some frisbee training would put that to good, productive, healthy use.

People, of course, are just drawn to the child like a magnet. So it's good that he likes people. But whereas parents used to just let their spawn dogpile on Max Bear without a moment's hesitation, they see Bruno's ginormous mouth and ask first, which I appreciate.

"Will he bite?"

"Not if you only have two legs," I say.

And as their children are wallowing all over him (and he's adoring every moment of it), the parents always ask: "What is he?"

And since I got his DNA test back, I always give the same answer: "He's an American Staffordshire Terrier!"

The responses are usually the same: "Hmm... never heard of one of them. He looks like a Boxer or a pit bull, though."

I never say much, if anything, to that.

We were standing by the aviary today, though -- Bruno with his hands up on the glass so he could keep an eye on the little dinosaurs -- and this itsy bitsy little girl comes up and asks, "What's his name?" I tell her, she looks at him, and says, "Bruno, can I pet you?" And this is the first time I've seen him take his eyes off the birds without being dragged away, but he turns, buries his massive cranium in her chest, and nuzzles her, as if to say, "I thought you'd never ask." She's wrapped around him, loving on him, and he's loving on her, and she says to him, "Bruno, you look a lot like my Brutus, but he died." Then she turns to me and asks, "What is he?"

And, of course, I say, "He's an American Staffordshire Terrier."

She scrunches her face and says, "Brutus was a pit bull. I don't know what a 'Merican Haffershur Terrier is."

And I leaned down and whispered in her ear, "It's basically the same thing. American Staffordshire Terrier is just a fancy way of saying pit bull."

And right there, in the middle of the store, this miniature person -- she seriously couldn't be more than six -- frowns up at me and says, "Mister, you should just tell people he's a pit bull when they ask. People don't know what 'Merican Haffershur Terriers are, but they do know what pit bulls are, and they think they're 'posed to eat people. You could show 'em that's dumb by letting them pet Bruno and show 'em that he doesn't eat people and maybe then they'll like pit bulls."


Seriously, when the hell did kids get so damned smart?

You know what, though? I minded her. On the way out, Bruno saw a group of kids he just couldn't resist, and while they were loving all over him, the dad asked -- as all dads do -- "What is he?"

"A pit bull," I said. "He's a pit bull."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Envelope, Please!

The results of Bruno's Wisdom Panel's Insights Mixed Breed DNA Test are in!

My bestie has been giving me shit about this for weeks. "Why do you care? If you adopted a little black baby, wouldn't you love her just as much as if she were white?" And of course I would. But, I replied, "If I were blind, I would want someone to tell me my baby was black so I would know what to do with her hair!" I just wanted to know what Bruno's breed makeup was so I could make better decisions about his long term health care, and so...

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm just insanely curious. And now I know!

Okay, first off, a little caveat about the results. I picked Wisdom Panel because it seems to me to be the most scientifically sound of the bunch. I really like the fact that they don't over-promise in the certainty department, because this sort of DNA testing is 1) in its infancy and 2) not like the sort of DNA test you would do to prove paternity. Yes, PCR is involved. Yes, they're looking at specific markers. But they're comparing those markers to bloodlines of AKC-registered pooches, and all of that can get a little messy, and, well... lemme just snip a snippet from a chat between me and Abbie, 'cause she says smart things:

Ive been curious about these tests myself, but the only entire dog genome sequenced is a boxer (I believe). There might be a few genetic quirks associated with certain breeds they look for, but just because you dont have that quirk doesnt mean you dont have that breed in the mix, and closely related breeds might all have that same quirk, and then just by chance, you might be that breed and have lost the quirk... For this to really work you would have to have entire genomes sequenced from numerous animals of all the breeds youre testing for.
So, if the results had been a little screwy, I wouldn't have been shocked. But then again, it was only sixty bucks. I've spent that much on a robots that turn into toy trucks before. Anyway, with no further ado, here's what Wisdom Panel says Bruno is (and this is purely based on the DNA sample; no photos or descriptions):

Their picture of the American Staffordshire Terrier even has Bruno's markings, which I think are what lead most people to believe he's a Boxer mix. So, no Bullmastiff, no Boxer... Bruno is all AmStaff! Yay! I finally know what to tell people now!

But wait, there's more... Wisdom Panel Insights is a Mixed Breed Identification test, so it's geared toward looking for mixed breeds, and assumes you're sending them the DNA of a mutt. The report also included this:

Dachsund. LOL! Note the minuscule percentages, though. I'm chalking all of that up to either 1) the stuff Abbie said above, 2) the fact that American Staffordshire Terriers are a relatively new "pure breed," made from a mix of terriers and bulldogs, or 3) possibly a DNA contamination (from the doctor's office in which I took the tissue sample) being amplified by the PCR.

Whatever the reason, the results aren't significant enough to worry about. My baby is an American Staffordshire Terrier!

Or, I could have just saved sixty bucks and used this picture as evidence: