Dolly’s DNA Results

One of the the many questions we were asked about Dolly (and I’m sure many mixed breed owners can relate), was “what is she?”.  The problem was, we did not know. We made guesses based on what she looked like, her temperament, and even her body size, but we still didn’t know.

As Dolly was rescued from the illegal meat trade in Thailand thanks to Soi Dog and brought over to Edmonton thanks to Zoe’s Animal Rescue Society last year.

 

She was listed as an “unknown” breed as it was extremely hard to tell what she could be. Thankfully, her former foster mom asked me if I would be interested in doing a DNA test to find out what breeds she was (as there was no chance she was even remotely purebred, especially coming from the streets of Thailand).

We decided to use a company called DNA My Dog as Dolly’s former foster mom had used them before on both of her dogs and other former foster dogs.  The great thing is that it’s super easy to do, as you swab the inside of their mouth, place the swabs in the envelope and send it off for a lab analysis. The samples can be viable for up to 3 weeks in the envelope, so even with slow postal service you can still get it analyzed without expedited services.  The results take on average two weeks to get and the company that does it is Canadian (automatic win for me).  The hardest part out of all of it was the waiting. I’m sure I bumped their online ranking a few spaces with how often I was refreshing the page to see if her sample had been progressed.

They asked us to write down our guesses as to what she might be.  We thought for sure there was some level of terrier in her (Rat Terrier was a strong guess).  Many people who saw her thought she had Lab and or possibly Border Collie.  It was just so hard to guess as purebred dogs are few and far between over in Thailand and they definatly do not end up on the back of a meat trade truck.

So what is she?

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The results came back with her listed as Akita, Brittany and Chow Chow.

She’s listed as Level 2 Akita which means it’s her predominant breed.  She’s roughly 37-74% Akita meaning one of her parents was an Akita or Akita mix.  It’s not surprising as they are a breed originally from Asian countries.  I was quite surprised at first until I looked at some photos of Akita’s and saw the resemblance.

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What I was also impressed with is that not only does DNA My Dog break down the percentage of breed, it sends you some information about them including health concerns.  Apparently Akita breeds are known to suffer from auto immune skin disorders, so that makes sense considering all of the skin issues Dolly has.  Dolly also loves to chase anything that moves and loves to carry around things in her mouth (such as socks and Freckles sweaters).

I honestly had to look up what a Brittany breed of dog was.  Apparently they are a Spaniel.

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This breed makes up about 20-36% of Dolly’s DNA.  This is listed as a Level 3.

The temperament of this breed describes Dolly perfectly.  She’s a good natured and sweet girl.  She also has a joy for life and is very enthusiastic about things she loves.  She is also a very sensitive dog and does not respond well to stern treatment.  She is very timid when she becomes scared.

The one that really surprised me had to be finding out she’s also 20-36% Chow Chow.

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That is one breed I honestly could not believe she has in her.  She does not have really any of the behavioural traits of a Chow Chow but, there was one health concern that caught my attention.  Chow Chow’s can develop an inward rolling of the eyelid and when Dolly arrived in Canada, she had to have surgery correct and inward rolling eyelid.  I suspect she’s on the lower percentage of Chow Chow, and as she was a level 3 for Chow Chow, that’s not surprising.

The results were surprising but, they do make sense after I’ve had a chance to do some researching on each breed.  If you are interested in finding out what your dog is, you can go on the DNA My Dog and order a DNA kit.  The results may surprise you.

Surrendering Your Animal

In an ideal world, all animals would have loving and caring homes that will be willing and able to take of them of their entire lives.  This is sadly not the case in the real world.  People surrender and abandon animals all the time and the reasons why vary.

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As someone who volunteers with two different animal rescue organizations, I see all kinds of reasons why we have to take animals in.

As much as I want to sit here and say that there is never a legitimate reason to every surrender your animal, that’s both incredibly short sighted and not empathetic to what people may be going through.  Surrendering an animal is not easy (nor should it be because if it is, you should never have had that animal in first place and never own another animal ever again).

When someone is surrendering their animal due to drastic changes in their life (such as fleeing domestic violence, loss of financial stability, moving to where they can not have their animal, not being able to afford medical costs of the animal and loss of home), it’s heartbreaking.  You feel for those people.  They do not want to say goodbye to their family member but have no choice.  All you want to do is let them know that their animal will be loved and cared for to whoever their new family is.  Those are the people who will at least reach out to animal rescue organizations to find a proper home for their animal.

Then there are people who get rid of their animals and just don’t care.  They no longer want their animal (the ones where the animal is 10 years or older are the most heartbreaking).  They are no longer “cute” because they didn’t stay a puppy (imagine that).  The animal became destructive because people did not want to do the responsible thing and train them.  The animal became aggressive because they were never trained.  The animal no longer served a purpose (such as puppy mill survivors who can no longer produce puppies).  Their animal became pregnant because the owners were not responsible enough to spay their female animals.  These are NEVER good reasons for abandoning your animal (and if you think otherwise feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll tell you why you are wrong).

If you are going to surrender your animal, please do NOT give them away or sell them online.  If you are actually trying to profit from giving away a member of your family, you’re gross.  No one who actually cares about their animals would ever just give them away to someone they don’t know and have done no screening on who they are.  Want to know what happens when you sell or give away your animals online?  THIS .

If you are in a situation where you actually need to surrender your animal, please contact a legitimate rescue organization.  They can help.  Know that if you drop them off at a shelter, not all shelters are created equal.

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There are shelters that will euthanize animals to help reduce overcrowding.  As sad and awful as that is, it happens.  Please be aware of that and read a shelter’s policies.  Also, a lot of animals do not thrive and will shut down completely in shelters compared to going to a foster home environment.  It’s basically like being in jail for a lot of animals.  Would you thrive and be your best self in that environment?  I think not.

If you are not sure where to turn, drop me a comment and I will help you out the best I possibly can.

Animal Rescue Profile: Barrhead Animal Rescue Society

This month’s animal rescue profile is Barrhead Animal Rescue Society.

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Three years ago in December, we adopted our sweet little Boston Terrier, Freckles, through B.A.RS.

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B.A.R.S. is a shelterless, non profit organization that was established back in 2010.  They focus on ensuring the humane treatment of all animals in the Town of Barrhead, Alberta. the County of Barrhead and surrounding areas.  Their Mission Statement, Core Values, and Strategic Goals can be found HERE.

Recently, B.A.R.S. had an amazing story that will honestly bring a tear of happiness to your eyes.  There was a dog that they brought into care that managed to escape and had been missing and on the run for six months and they were able to humanly trap him last week.  To read the full story, click HERE.

If you are interested in helping out B.A.R.S.:

Click HERE to adopt

Click HERE to donate (even $10 will make a difference)

Click HERE to volunteer

Click HERE to view upcoming events

Click HERE to Like them on Facebook

Reminder: Do Not Leave Your Pet in a Hot Vehicle

Every year, I read the same thing over and over again in the news.  People leaving pets (and children) in hot cars.  It honestly boggles my mind that people need to be reminded or that I actually need to write this, but here we are.

In case you were unaware, pets can die if left in hot vehicles.  They do not sweat and can not expel heat like humans can.  They wear a fur coat 24/7.  Try walking around in a fur coat in the summer heat and see how well you fair.

I hear countless of excuses and stories such as “well, I was only gone for a minute” and “he/she doesn’t like being left at home and likes to run errands with me”.  I don’t care about the excuses, there is not one good enough to leave a pet in a hot car.  EVER.

Your pet does not need to run errands with you.  Leave them at home.  Do they have separation anxiety?  Leaving them in a hot car will not make it better and maybe you should actually address the operation anxiety and find a solution for it at home.

A minute can turn into five minutes.  It can turn into twenty minutes.  I can’t tell you the number of times I would think of running in and out of a store and then had to stand in line and wait for a good 10 minutes because it’s busy, they are understaffed and only have one till open.  It happens.  You can never guarantee how long you will be away from your car.  Leave your pet at home, they will be happier and safer there.

Are you travelling with your pets and need to stop for things like food?  Plan ahead, it’s not that hard.  We travel with our pets all the time back to BC and Saskatchewan and have at least 8 hours in the car for either trip in the summer.  Do you know what we do?  We pack food and water (plus, having your own food on the road is cheaper and you will get to your destination faster).  If we do stop, one person goes inside and the other takes the dogs out for a nature break.  Then, when the other person gets back, the other person goes in and the other one will hang out with the dogs.  It’s easy.

The photo below shows how dangerous it can become for your pet in a hot car:

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Leave your pets at home.  If you don’t, you risk your animal dying and you being charged (and definitely confronted by someone who called the authorities on you).

If you see a pet in distress, as tempting as it to smash the window (or someone’s face), don’t.  You will most likely get charged and in some cases, bit by the animal.  Try to contact the owner by having them paged if they parked outside a business.  If you can not track down the owner (and especially if they refuse to do anything about the animal in the hot car and/or if the pet is in distress), call 911 and wait until help arrives. Some states will allow you to rescue an in distress animal, but not all areas have these laws. In Canada, you will be charged for breaking a window.

At the end of the day, please use some common sense.  Leave your pets at home.

The Realities of Animal Rescue

Animal rescue is one of the most heartwarming causes.  It’s amazing to see an animal find and thrive in their forever home.  I have been fortunate to provide a loving home to three dogs.  I also am fortunate to be involved with two local rescue organizations and see all of the hard work it takes to find a home for an animal end on a very happy note.

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But, things are not always sunshine and rainbows in animal rescue.  The truth is that animal rescue is hard.  It’s heartbreaking.  It’s frustrating.  It’s scary.  It can and will destroy your faith in humanity.

People who are involved in animal rescue will understand what I’m talking about as they see this on a daily basis.

Animal rescue organizations are constantly having to take in animals who have been abandoned because they are no longer wanted by people.  They take in animals who have been horribly neglected and abused.  They take in animals who have never lived inside a home as they have been feral their entire lives.  They take in animals who’s only purpose has been for breeding.  They take in animals from horrific situations such as illegal meat trades.

There are organizations who work with vulnerable communities and while there is usually a good relationship built, not all relationships there are positive.  Animals are not treated well (most, but not all cases).  It’s hard to expect a community that is struggling to care for their own people to care for all the animals there.

People in animal rescue often have to physically rescue animals in horrible conditions.  I have known people who have crawled under decks and abandoned vehicles to emerge covered in dirt and mud with an arm full of puppies.

I honestly do not know of a rescue organization that is not running at a deficit.  Vet bills are expensive.  Taking in animals and providing medical care can cost rescue organizations thousands of dollars.  All rescues are non for profit and rely on donations to pay for everything. It can be an incredibly tough decision as to taking in an animal with extensive medical needs and not knowing whether you have the funding to cover it, or passing that animal up.

There are never enough foster homes.  No foster home = not being able to take an animal into care.

What most people don’t realize is that animal rescue organizations occasionally deal with threats as well.  They deal with threats against animals (these are cases where if the rescue doesn’t take the animal into care, an individual will threaten death of the animal).   They deal with people claiming that the rescue “stole” their animal (which FYI: animal rescues do not do that and do not have the authority to do so).  They get people making false claims online against them and purposely trying to defame them.  People will even recruit their friends to try and go after the rescue online once they themselves have been banned and blocked from a rescue’s social media page.  People will spread lies and say awful things about people who run the rescue organization.  And sadly, some people in rescue organizations will even be threatened will violence themselves.

Why am I writing about all of this, you may ask?  Education.

What can you do about it?  Foster, donate, advocate, volunteer and adopt.  But, I realize that not everyone can do all or even any of these.

You can follow some local rescues in your area on social media.  Attend a fundraising event.  Do a bottle drive for a local rescue. Instead of gifts for things like birthdays and holidays like Christmas, ask for a donation to be made in your name to an animal rescue organization.  These are all ways of helping.

The most important thing is to understand and be empathetic to what people in animal rescue deal with.  These people are volunteering their time.  No one is getting paid to do this.  They do this because they love animals.

Animal Rescue Profile: Zoe’s Animal Rescue Society

As this page is all about animal rescue, I want to profile an animal rescue organization every month.  This month’s rescue organization is one that is very near and dear to my heart, Zoe’s Animal Rescue Society.

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Zoe’s is a shelterless animal rescue that is based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  When animals arrive in their care, the animals are placed in loving foster homes where the foster families get the animals prepared for their new life.  While in foster care, they receive medical care (which does include spay and neutering as animals will not be adopted out otherwise) and any behavioural support they may need.  Along with adoption, Zoe’s focuses on a Spay and Neuter Return Program, working with people and animals in marginalized communities, education, and their commitment to Force Free handling.

One reason I love this organization is because this who we adopted our most recent, Dolly, through.

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Zoe’s works hard to ensure a 3% return rate of their animals.  Yes, their adoption screening is very thorough (and for some people, apparently too thorough).  I have met some wonderful and people through Zoe’s and have become friends with Dolly’s former foster mom.

If you are interested in helping out Zoe’s:

Click HERE to adopt

Click HERE to volunteer

Click HERE to foster

Click HERE to donate (even $10 will make a difference)

Click HERE to Like and Follow them on Facebook

Grieving the Loss of a Pet

I want to talk about a subject that all pet owners either have experienced or will experience, and that is having to say goodbye to a pet.

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Death is part of life.  The death of a pet can be traumatizing and extremely upsetting (especially depending on the reason why).  Pets are part of the family and I know for myself, I have a close bond with my pets.  Pets provide you with unconditional love and support and to no longer have that can be really hard to deal with.

I recently wrote about about how it was three years ago that Dean and I had to say goodbye to our boy, Bandit.

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Bandit was the first dog that I ever had and the loss I felt is one I still feel today.  I had a close bond with Bandit.  He was with me through some really amazing times in my life and was with me through some of the hardest times in my life.  He stood by me when people in my life did not.  He always knew how to make me feel better when I was not feeling good (either physically, emotionally or mentally).  That made losing him so much harder.

And just recently, my sister, brother in-law and nephew had to say goodbye to their twelve year old Golden Retriever, Herbie.  It was a tough day for everyone, especially my five year old nephew.

Now, there are people who may read this and roll their eyes by saying “it’s just a dog, get over it”.  They’re entitled to their opinion, but I’d wager these people have never had a bond with a pet.

Grieving the loss of a pet and being upset is totally normal.  When I worked at a distress centre for two years, when it came to any kind of loss, we would say “a loss is a loss”.

When we lose anything, it’s normal to be upset.  The loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a house, the loss of a family member.  These are all major losses.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a pet.  I will try provide some insight on how to deal with the loss of a pet:

Acknowledge the pain you feel.

As I stated, the loss of a pet is real.  Please do not try and suppress the emotions you feel.  Don’t let anyone tell you to just “suck it up and get over it”.

Also, if you have other pets, know that they will experience grief as well.  All Max wanted to do after the loss of Bandit was cuddle with me.  He felt the loss of his brother as much as I did.

Yes, it is totally normal and ok to randomly burst into tears following the loss of your pet.  

Coming home after having to say goodbye to Bandit was the worst.  I saw his blanket and and favourite toy on the ground and lost it.  I decided to go into work the next day to try and take my mind off of things, but I found myself running to the bathroom as I could not hold back the tears.  It didn’t help as my coworkers and boss at the time didn’t care for the fact that I was in emotional pain.  There was not a lot of understanding there and that made the pain worse.  Enough to say that I no longer work there.

Talk to someone.

Just as with any loss, look for support.  Talk to people.  Cry on their shoulder.  If you don’t have people in your life who understand what you are going trough, there are many online support groups out there of people who understand your pain.  Reach out.  It’s especially important to reach out for help if you feel symptoms of depression coming on. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed by that.

It’s normal to not want to go back to the vet where you had to say goodbye.

The vet that we used to go to was along the route that I used to cycle by for my long training rides.  For a about a full year, I couldn’t go past there without getting emotional. I couldn’t even bring myself to go into the examining room when we took Max there to get his shots.  It was too much for me. Vets deal with with this all the time so reach out to them if you need to.  They understand your loss and a good resource to go to in dealing with your grief.

The pain never goes away but it gets easier with time.

For at least the first couple of months, the pain was unbearable.  I wanted to crawl into a corner and cry for hours every single day.  Eventually, I no longer felt that way, but  everyone is different.  The anniversary of having to say goodbye to Bandit is also getting easier to deal with.  I no longer spend the day in tears.  I acknowledge the day but no longer stress over it.

Life will be different.

If you go from walking, feeding and playing with your pet (especially for many years) to no longer doing any of that, it will take time to adjust.  Bandit used to sleep in the bed with us and loved to snuggle right next to you.  It took time to get used to him no longer being there.

Self care is important.

As with any major loss, take time to grieve and grieve in your own way on your own time.  Don’t force yourself into social situations if you are not up for it.  Take care of yourself.

Remember them.

Don’t try and erase your pet from your memory.  While this can be emotionally difficult, create a memorial for them.  We got Bandit’s ashes in a rock that we have on our mantle. It sits in the sunshine as that was Bandit’s favourite thing to do.  We also have a framed photo of him sitting next to it.

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The memorial we had for Bandit beside our old house.

I aslo have him as my screen saver on all my electronic devices as well, I have a photo of him as my background photo on my personal Facebook page.  He may be gone physically, but he will always be in my heart.

Don’t rush into getting another pet.

I will say this, you can not replace a pet.  Please do not try to.  We already had Max and adopted Freckles later that year.  Freckles was not a replacement.  No dog could replace Bandit.  Add to your family when you are ready.  Only you will know when the time is right.

There is nothing that you or I can do to prevent the loss of a pet (or anything in life for that matter).  I know I will have to deal with the loss of a pet three more times at some point (hopefully years from now).  All you can do is try and deal with the loss the best you can. All I can do if offer my support, empathy and sympathy to anyone who has gone through the loss of a pet.

Take care and hugs you all.