The DNA results are in!

A couple weeks ago, we did a Wisdom Panel DNA test on Stella to find out what the hell she is since we had no idea and everywhere we go with her people ask us. We’d been telling people she was definitely a herding breed since she herds everything around her (people, cats, other dogs, groundhogs…) and is likely mixed with Chow. We assumed the herding breed was Border Collie (or just regular Collie) or Australian Shepherd, mainly because of her smaller size (she’s 35 lbs, though the vet wants her to be around 30. Hey, my girl likes to eat.).

Today we got the results in and she’s…

Mostly mixed breed (38 percent), with herding breed as the most likely group. (This means that her lineage was mixed farther back than the three generations they can test for.) I was kind of afraid this would happen, since we figured she had to be mixed with a lot of stuff to not have a prominent look of any recognizable breed.


Boston Terrier my ass. She’s way too cute.

After this, she’s 25 percent Chow, which I can’t see in her face but definitely in her fluffiness. Then she’s equal parts Golden Retriever (she’s got the ears), Irish Setter (I can see this in her fringe fur) and Boston Terrier—ew, gross. Those dogs are seriously butt ugly. However, I think the Boston Terrier part would explain her size, since all of those other breeds she’s supposedly mixed with are much larger than she is. Boston Terriers generally weigh around 10-20 pounds and are much shorter than she is, so I could see how mixing a small dog like that with the other larger breeds would yield a medium-sized beast like Stella.

It’s pretty funny to learn about her Chow-ness, though, since when we set out looking to adopt a dog I was adamant about avoiding dogs with Chow in them because they are known for being aggressive assholes. She must have only gotten the fluffiness and coloring from her Chow ancestors—she is a very sweet pup and not aggressive toward people, dogs or cats at all.

This was super-fun, but it also makes me want to do a different DNA test on her to compare! I might wait until there’s one available that can go back farther, though, since she’s apparently a serious, serious mutt. But she’s my mutt, and she’s unique, and I wouldn’t change her for anything.

Stella's DNA ancestry

Stella’s ancestry

One month


As of yesterday, we’ve had Stella in our family for one month. It really is amazing how much can change in a month’s time.

We’re falling more and more into a routine that’s working for all of us, and we’re finally starting to see some payoff for all of the training we’ve been doing. Stella is getting really good at “sit” and “down” (for a while she was confusing the two), and I learned the other day that she understands “drop it,” too, and will do it sometimes even when we’re outside—where she’s super-easily distracted.

She’s started sleeping through the night more, but she is still having some accidents in the house when she’s been out playing. The Sunday before last she was great about scratching at the door when she had to go out, but then she peed on the floor twice within a couple hours. I’ve been told this is just a symptom of “puppy bladder,” though, and she should grow out of it eventually.

On the advice of our trainer, last week I bought her a small prong collar and the Gentle Leader to aid in our leash training. The prong collar did nothing for her—she saw a squirrel or a car or just decided she wanted to pull me down the block and it was like she was just wearing a regular old collar. I guess she’s so fluffy she couldn’t feel it poking into her skin.

She absolutely hated the Gentle Leader the first couple of times I put it on her—well, when Ian and I put it on her, since it’s a two-person job. One has to hold her still and the other has to get it connected around her nose and head. I didn’t think we’d even make it down the block with that thing on—she head-banged her way down the block, only stopping to paw at her nose to get it off.

We’ve been using it now for almost a week, and while she still hates it she doesn’t fight me quite as hard. She’ll paw at it the first block or so, but then she kind of just gives up and starts walking like a normal, not insane dog. I am training her to walk on my left side so there’s a lot of me pushing her to the side with my left leg, and every time she starts pulling forward I’ll stop and say “No pull.” After about three or four blocks she seems to get tired enough to stop pulling, and we get a couple more blocks of good walking in before she sees another dog or person and takes off again. Another plus of this collar is that since I have control of her nose it’s really easy to stop her from eating things on the ground that she shouldn’t—cigarette butts, chicken bones, food containers with random foods left in them, other dogs’ poop… yeah, some of our neighbors aren’t the tidiest bunch.

Anyway, I was really skeptical of using the Gentle Leader because of her strength and stubbornness, and after the first day I thought it’d never work. But I’m glad we’ve stuck with it, because this morning she had a really good walk. There was still a lot of “no pull” and “get back on your side” talk, but she is getting better. And I think having to behave wears her out more than going wild on her own, because whenever we get back to the house she is ready for an ice cube and a nap.

The real test will be seeing if she can wear this thing during obedience class tonight. I have a feeling she’ll have peeled it off her face within the first five minutes, but we’ll see what happens.