This dog’s outlook on life can’t be measured

Many of our friends count pets as family members. My family knows most of these four-legged furry beings, and we like them all.

But one holds a special place in our hearts.

Sully, who lives with our good friends Melissa and Sean, is an 88-pound bundle of happiness. I’ve never seen Sully unhappy. This pooch should be in one of those 1970s Schlitz beer commercials: “You only go around once in life, so you take each day with all the gusto you can.”

That’s Sully. He clearly lives by that motto. It’s as if he has that Pharrell Williams song “Happy” playing in his head 24/7.

Maybe it’s because eight years ago the rescue group Love of Labs Indiana (LOLIN) pulled the caramel-colored mixed breed from a Kentucky kill shelter one day before he was scheduled to be euthanized.

Melissa and Sean – OK, me too – have always been a little curious about Sully’s doggy DNA. They knew he was a mixture of Rhodesian Ridgeback and Labrador Retriever, but were there other breeds in the batter? Could a combination of those breeds be responsible for his sunny outlook on life?

Testing a dog’s DNA has become popular the last few years. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy, and the results are usually available in two weeks. The kit is a popular holiday gift.

Monique Nagy, a canine breed determination specialist at Viaguard ACCU-Metrics, says her group runs an average of 250 dog DNA analyses weekly. She said lately they’ve seen an increase in the purchase of their DNA kits due to COVID-19 as families seek out amusements during these stay-at-home times.

When Melissa and Sean sent Sully’s DNA to Viaguard to be analyzed, the results came back equal parts predictable and surprising. The happy warrior was found to be 35% Rhodesian Ridgeback, 35% Labrador Retriever, 20% Golden Retriever and 5% Chinook – all breeds well-known by the American public.

The last 5%, however, was labeled Unknown/Mixed, leaving just a bit of mystery. Nagy says there probably wasn’t enough DNA to get a reading, which led the nosy friend in me to wonder what breed it possibly could be.

Alas, there was no way of knowing for sure, but I’d like to think it might be the part that makes Sully special and caring.

You see, our love for Sully has grown due to his friendship with our Lab, Teddy. Also a LOLIN rescue, Teddy was pulled from a kill shelter in Kentucky after roaming the state’s western hills with his two sisters nearly six years ago.

We quickly discovered after adopting Teddy that he really didn’t understand how to be a dog. He didn’t know how to run or play with others.

Enter Sully, who helped Teddy become more social. He now runs with other dogs in his play group and has even learned to play tug-of-war with them.

Sully showed Teddy how to jump in ponds with abandon. They are best dog friends now with Sully constantly nudging and encouraging him to play.

For some reason, Sully intuitively cares for and comforts those around him. The large, happy dog has a big 5% DNA dose of it, wherever it comes from.

Does that make sense scientifically? No, but it makes sense to me. At times I think we could all use a good dose of what Sully’s got.

Top 5 dog DNA kits

1. Embark – DNA dog test kit

2. Wisdom Health – panel 3.0 breed identification DNA test kit

3. Wisdom Health – panel 2.5 breed identification DNA test kit

4. Find My Pet DNA

3. Embark – breed identification kit


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