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DNA testing for dogs? Think outside the bark | Stu Bykofsky

Nut Bag is my latest dog, and may be my last dog, given our respective ages.

The dog known as Nut Bag has a mixed ancestry
The dog known as Nut Bag has a mixed ancestryRead moreStu Bykofsky/Staff

I don't claim to be a trendsetter, but I will take credit for being ahead of the curve when it comes to DNA testing. I had it done a couple of years ago, when I decided to waste $75 on something that was wholly unnecessary.

When my sample was returned from the lab, it showed that I am 99.8 percent Ashkenazi Jew. The other 0.2 percent is buttinski, or something like that.

This does not often come up in conversation. When people call me a "son of a –" they are not talking about my ancestry.

With my DNA a matter of record, I invited my girlfriend/warden, Half-Pint, to be tested.

Guess what? She is 2 percent Native American. Who knew? The bigger numbers: 38 percent Britain/Ireland, 22 percent Asia East/Philippines/Guam, 17 percent Polynesian, and 6 percent mermaid — although I'm not certain of that last one.

Hmmm. I take a look at the dog, who's minding his own business.

A few words about the dog, whom I call Nut Bag. That's not his real name, but I don't use actual names of family because assorted wackjobs with too much time and computer access can cause trouble. And, yes, he is family.

Nut Bag is my latest dog, and may be my last dog, given our respective ages. He turned 10 on Tuesday, which is a guesstimate, because he was a stray with no papers. You could call him undocumented. I adopted him from Saved Me, a local rescue group. I sometimes fantasize about writing Nut Bag's backstory, what happened during his first seven years, but he's pretty secretive.

Saved Me said he was a shih tzu mix, and by appearance and size that seemed right. But when he is off leash, the little black-and-white dog circles me and nips at my heels, very much like a border collie.

He doesn't look anything like a border collie, but maybe he's incognito. Who knows?

I decide to test his DNA.

You didn't know they have DNA test kits for dogs?

Several companies do it. Want to know why?

Because there's a buck in it, roughly $80.

So I get the kit, give him a treat, scrape the inside of his cheek, mail it off, and wait for the results to come back. It will not show his country of origin, but it will show his breed. Or breeds.

We've had him three years now; he's my first little dog, but is big on personality. He hates dogs, loves people, thinks he's a Rottweiler, and has a funny quirk. He sometimes growls at me. Softly.

I know what you're thinking. No, I wouldn't put up with it either, but it's more of a complaint than a threat. He sometimes even growls when I want to give him a walk and he's not in the mood. He's the first dog I ever had who wouldn't die for a walk. Or a steak bone. He turns up his little black nose at them.

I sometimes wonder what's wrong with him. He probably wonders the same about me.

Oh! The DNA results.

He's 75 percent shih tzu, 20 percent Lhasa apso, 5 percent Pekingese.

No border collie. But I really don't care. It's not in my DNA.