Sunday, August 26, 2012

My DNA Test

My DNA kit arrived from Ancestry yesterday. I am so excited. The instructions are simple, the packaging exact and the results....anticipation.

The ancestry kit is only $99 for members, which is amazingly cheap. Not much more than a dog dna test of which I've ordered several.

A few years ago, we adopted two little Australian Shepherd/unknown puppies from two different counties. Well, we actually started out fostering them, fell in love. We kept the tri-color male, who was a natural bobtail and an old soul. A more intelligent dog I've never seen. His spirit is that of some relaxed genius reincarnated into a little dog soul, just kicking back and enjoying the ride. We named him Scout. The female, Piper, is a blue merle with one blue eye. If she is anyone's incarnation, she was a beat era speed freak hellbent on high intensity, and not unintelligent, but nowhere near the measure of our Scoutie. My mother-in-law adopted her, as her 19 year old Spitz Penny had passed away short of a year prior and she needed another pup to spoil and overfeed into morbid obesity. Penny likely lived the last 10 years of  her life on sheer meaness. She was the most cantankerous mutt I've ever met. She liked no one on earth, save Helen, and prevented Helen from being very much of a grandmother to her only grandchild. But that is another story.

Dog people can be a bit uppity. I've been in dog sports a long time and while they will applaud you openly for rescue, in among their little groups with their breeder bought pedigreed pooches, they taut the lines, certifications, kennels and health testing of their dogs like race drivers brag on their cars.

Scout grew into a beautiful young dog with a stance like a king. But, to anyone in the agility circuit, since he was a rescue, he was a mutt. It did not matter if he looked purebred. Now, Piper, with her coat and blue-eyed, people thought to be a purebred, but she and Scout were so different, not so much in looks, but in actions. They run different. She is a crawler and that said one thing loud an clear to me.

I had them both DNA tested and the results were not surprising. Scout is an Australian Shepherd. Nothing else. While the test does not pronounce any dog a purebred, it simply states that anything else in the mix is in too little of quantities to pick up, which could fully mean that nothing else is there.

Piper results came back with Australian Shepherd and Border Collie. While BC's are the smartest breed there is, a mix of the two, somehow did not make the mark on brainiac dogs.

Then there was Boog, who I ran into on my way to work one day....literallly. I top a hill in the mountainous territory I live in and there he was in the middle of the road eating carrion. For a second, I thought he was a bear, but when he looked up at me, I saw he was a dog. I tried my best to miss him, but I couldn't entirely. There was only one house anywhere close with a long dirt driveway going up past it. They did not know the dog and pointed up the red dirt drive and said there neighbors had a beagle. This was no beagle, like I said, he looked like a bear, as big as one and black, with long hair matted into dreads from lack of care.

But he was a sweet one, licked my hand when I got out to check on him. There was nothing more to do than take him to a vet, run an ad in the paper and wait. He had no broken bones, but a horrendous ear infection, that he would be fighting with continuously, and we treated that, along with having a mast cell growth in his ear removed. No one ever stepped forward to claim him, so we named him.

He became Boog, after a cartoon bear, and I became anxious to solve the mystery of what combo this big, ponysized sweetheart was. His muzzle was a little elongated like our German Shepherds, but stopped a bit short. He was huge and black and long-haired, with a little dash of white on his chest. His ears could not make up their mind what they wanted to do, they usually stuck out at odd angles and I believe this contributed to his ear infections. His feet were strange, round anomalies, that I had not observed before. And all that hair, tons of it, but after he was trimmed and groomed, he was a very handsome fellow, and we discovered there was actually more hair than dog, and he wasn't really much larger than a German Shepherd,   just hairer. He had deep-set eyes that reminded me of some breed I had seen before, and I had my suspicions, it was possible he was 8 or more different breeds that results in this odd dog, so a DNA test was in order.

Come to find out, Boog was not an 8 or more combo, but a first generation mutt, the results of the mixing of two different breeds. The first didn't surprise me at all. Newfoundland. I had been researching and found out those funny webbed feet of his was trait of this breed, as was his deep-set eyes. His temperament was more like that of a Newfie, and his coloration. Newfoundlands and Labrador Retrievers were both bred down from an extinct breed called Saint John's, the last one of which died in the early 1980's, a Canadian water dog. This dog was black with a white chest patch and this coloration and the white patch can pop up in any dog descended from this breed. The other breed was a surpise indeed. German Shepherd. The GSD parent had blended with the Newf parent to cause confusion in his ears, affected a bit of his skeletal structure and had elongated his muzzle. It had not much to do with his personality as he was just a laid back soul.

Boog went to live with my Dad far out in the Uwharries with a house on a hill and a very long driveway. Some months ago, my Dad decided to trust him and give him more freedom and started letting him sleep on the porch instead of living inside a fence. He wanted a guard for his guineas, which kept disappearing. When I was young, there were never things in these woods like there are now. But turkeys have made a comeback, wild boar have returned and most dangerously, coyotes (who are not native to this area), have crept in. I still hope Boog will reappear, but nothing yet. We have notices at all of the surrounding county animal controls, but my Dad feels like the coyotes got him, because the vet said his ear infections were causing him to go deaf. That is a thought I do not even want in my head. My Dad does not think of dogs on the same level I do. To me, they are a part of my family and greatly loved. To my Dad, they are just another form of livestock, like a goat or a chicken.

I started out talking about the Ancestry DNA test, and ended up on my dogs. But they are similar. What breed am I?

I most want to verify the results of my own research that place me greatly in Kent, England within about 50% of my ancestry. I believe around 10% will be a bit exotic, as I know I have Lumbee inheritance, and the Lumbees, though a Native American tribe, are considered a tri-racial isolate, meaning this remnant Southeastern tribe intermarried with both Causcasians and Africans around them over time. I had participated in a Lumbee study, but it explored only my straight maternal line, my mother's mother's family, wherein the Lumbee was located.

My father believes his paternal straight line to lead back to France. This has not been verified.

My mother's fathers line, the Davis, Floyds, Allens, etc, were Welsh Methodists. Then there are the Murray's, my mother's fathers, fathers, mothers line. If they are connected to the families my research has lead me to believe they are (when you find a name in another county or state, that is the same name as an ancestor, there can not be a 100% certainty that this John or James or Jesse is the same one that is your progenitor), this DNA test may confirm this, or not.

I am also excited to the possibilities of being connected to distant cousins that can tell me where some of the siblings of the 'goers' went. Many, many families started in the Southeast and migrated south or west or both.  Most of my ancestors originated in Virginia before migrating to North Carolina. While my direct ancestors, of course, stayed here, because here we are, there were many more who seemed to have migrated to South Carolina, Georgia, Fayette County Tennessee, Perry County Alabama, and many parts of Arkansas, Pope, Pike and Grand Prairie Counties in particular, and the Red River Valley of Texas. Some even to Mississippi and Missouri. It would be a blessing to connect to someone, say in Texas or Colorado, who has not made the connection of their ancestors back to the east coast.

I expect to have my results back by Christmas, but hope to have them back by Halloween. The Dog Breed DNA tests took about 2 months on the good one, and forever on the one I was beginning to believe I was not going to get any information back on at all, because they were so backlogged.

Ancestry is so backlogged that you have to apply for a test and then wait on an email that says, ok, now you can order, and you have a 7 days window of opportunity to order in. But the pricetag for this service is amazing. One third of what my last test was. My last test said I was basically 74% Western European, 12.5 % Native American (Eastern Seaboard) and 8.5% West African and 5% Central European. Of course, that is simply my straight shot maternal line, not my mother's paternal line, or my father's line at all.

One sad thing is that it will not show my Daddy's line at all, the one who raised me, only my biological father's line, which is fine. But I research both lines equally and consider them both my family. I also research the lines of both of my husbands, for my children. My first husband and I had 3 children. He died a young man, tragically. I eventually remarried and had one child, the only grandchild on this side of the family.

If the results of this test are exciting as I believe them to be, I will probably order another for my husband and then another for one of my older children. There lines are even more diverse than mine and on my husband's side, our daughter is the first member of the family to be born in America. Her father was born in Guam, his mother in Canada, his grandparent in the Ukraine and another line in Poland.

So now...the game is called Anticipation.

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