As some regular readers know, my husband Bill and I adopted a dog last fall. Noyzi came into our lives after a dog we had tried to adopt from Sardinia escaped his pet transport taxi and got hit by a car. We had tried to adopt the dog from Sardinia, months after we lost our precious Zane, a beagle mix we adopted from Atlanta Beagle Rescue in December 2009. Zane was a very special dog to me and I missed him terribly, but it’s not so easy for Americans to adopt dogs in Germany. A lot of the reason stems from animal shelters near U.S. military installations, having been burned by servicemembers who adopt animals and bring them back when it’s time to leave. Or they just dump the animals they brought over to Germany.
Naturally, Bill and I aren’t like that. Our dogs are family members, and we would never consider leaving them at a shelter. But thanks to the irresponsible actions of some of our countrymen, we figured we’d be wasting our time going to a local shelter. Additionally, thanks to COVID-19, getting a dog from a German dog rescue was also not going to be feasible. Last spring, we were not permitted to travel out of the area where we live. After the botched delivery attempt from the pet transport, we decided we’d rather be responsible for picking up our new friend ourselves. At least then, we could be sure the dog was properly secured before we took him out of the car! I am still haunted by the memory of that sweet hound from Sardinia, terrified as the taxi driver took him from her vehicle and set him on the ground, unsecured. Once that happened, there was nothing at all that we could do, and I knew in my heart that he was doomed.
Noyzi (also known as Noizy) was named for an Albanian rapper by a young man in Kosovo who found him wandering the streets, shrieking at the top of his lungs. He was a very young puppy when he was found; perhaps not old enough to be away from his mom. The young man gave him to an American woman named Meg, who rescues street dogs in Kosovo. A couple of years later, a mutual friend put me in touch with Meg, and we arranged to bring Noyzi to Germany. Noyzi was one of a few lucky pooches who found new homes last fall, just in the nick of time. If we had waited another month, it would have been hard to get him up here to Germany, thanks to COVID-19. I sure have loved having him around, though. It’s rewarding to see him evolve and his personality is very endearing and sweet.
I have never had a dog like Noyzi before. All of my dogs in recent times have been beagle mixes of some sort, although they’ve all been mixed with different breeds. Our first beagle rescue, for example, probably had husky mixed in with his beagle heritage. He had ice blue eyes and shedded constantly! Our other rescues were beagles to varying degrees; Flea was probably the closest to a purebred beagle, while MacGregor was definitely part basset hound, and I always suspected Zane had a touch of Labrador in him.
Since DNA tests are all the rage right now, I decided we’d see what breeds make up Noyzi and Arran. A couple of friends recommended Embark DNA tests. After a few weeks of resistance, I finally took the plunge. I bought two tests from Amazon. When they got to me, I used the high speed Q-tip like swabs in the kits to collect saliva from the dogs’ cheeks, attached the swabs to the vials of solution that came with the kits, put the completed kits in the included postage paid envelopes, and sent them off. Last night, after about a two week wait, we got the results, which included genetic health tests and breed analyses.
When we first got Arran, I figured he was a beagle/coonhound mix. But then Bill had a colleague who said he looked like a German Shorthaired Pointer. After reading up on GSPs, I thought maybe she might be right about that. As for Noyzi, I had no idea… At first, I wondered if he was part hound, due to his coloring. But then, after living with him for awhile, I figured he had some herding dog in him. He likes to collect toys and put them in his bed, or more recently, up in the spare bedroom we use as an entertainment room… but since we don’t have proper seating in there, it’s more of a doggy hangout room. Zane used to like to sleep in there during his last months.
I kind of knew that when we sent in the DNA samples, Noyzi’s would probably come back as “village dog”. Sure enough, I was right about that. However, I think it’s cool that his DNA is another sample for Embark, adding to the bank of unusual dog breeds they have in their database. I was pretty tickled with Arran’s results, especially since they sent us a cute video and guessing game for his results (Noyzi didn’t get a video for his). It turns out my instincts about Arran were right. He’s mostly beagle, with American English Coonhound and Llewellin Setter and “Supermutt” DNA. I had never heard of a Llewellin Setter, but it seems it’s kind of like an English Setter. When I was a kid, we had a dog who was a mix of Cocker Spaniel and English Setter. Now that I think about it, Arran shares a few traits with her… and he’s definitely got bird dog proclivities. But he doesn’t have any GSP, after all. I guess I should trust my instincts.
I resisted getting the tests done because I wasn’t sure how well they’d work out. I’m sure there aren’t a lot of dogs like Noyzi in the United States. I was right about that, hence the Eastern European Village Dog label. I thought we could get them done over here in Germany, but the results would have been in German. We did have our vet do DNA testing, but it turns out the kind she ran is more for breeders to show genetic information to buyers and prove bloodlines. It doesn’t tell you anything about the breed. It’s also NOT cheap! Apparently, Noyzi doesn’t have any significant genetic issues anyway. Arran is at a higher risk of getting disc disease, thanks to his beagle ancestry. The Embark vet sent us an email ahead of the results to let us know about Arran’s increased risk of getting IVDD. But as he’s about 12 years old and still very much a scrapper, I’m not too worried about it. I think he’s going to be our longevity dog.
Anyway… I highly recommend the Embark DNA tests. It was a lot of fun learning about our dogs, and I suspect that as the systems refine, we’ll learn even more about them. I wish I could have done these tests on our other dogs, too. I will make it a point of having them done whenever we add new canine family members. I think they’re helpful in determining the best ways to take care of our dogs. As the weather gets nicer, Noyzi gets more playful and sweet. I made another video yesterday featuring my crappy guitar playing… but at least Noyzi is a cute co-star.