What is She… Really?

Chloe weighs 65 pounds, has soft, fine fur. She dries quickly after a bath and rarely has any "doggie" odor. Her teeth are easy to care for, and she has muscular legs and hips.

For an early birthday present, my daughter, Kyersten, purchased a “Wisdom Panel Insights” DNA kit for Chloe. The two most common questions I am asked about Chloe are:

What does she do for you?

What kind of dog is she?

The second question is probably asked more often than the first. Chloe’s trainer, Pat, at Fidos For Freedom believes she is part Vizsla and Retriever because of her color, body style and manner in which she “washes up”. I’ve never thought to ask Chloe’s puppy raiser, Linda, what she thought Chloe’s mix might be, nor have I asked her other trainer, Jolanthe. My daughter thinks she is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and American Foxhound mix, as she has a ridge of hair that stands up along her spine when she is upset as it lays in the opposite direction of the rest of her fur. I think she accounts the Foxhound part because of the way her head and ears are shaped. I’ve never really cared WHAT Chloe is, as she is an intelligent partner to whom I’ve bonded and work along side on a daily basis. Once in awhile we would belly-ache about not knowing for sure what her mix is as we get that second question so often. It would be nice to be able to say, “She is a SUCH-AND-SUCH mix!” You can’t argue with DNA after all. Don’t you watch any crime shows on television? (GRIN).

In three weeks we should know. Want to make a guess yourself? Please feel free to comment. We will see who guesses the best regarding dog breeds!

Wisdom Panel Insights Dog DNA Test
Chloe as a puppy
Chloe as a puppy

Collecting DNA from inside cheek

Chloe has soft "hound" jowls, but does not drool excessively.

Chloe’s head and ears
Chloe's back of body and head
Chloe's profile

Chloe’s faults include “overly friendly” at times, and a high prey drive for small wildlife.

Chloe seems to track well and tastes the air and smells both the air and ground. She will roll in wildlife scents if unsupervised. Chloe is like a long-distance runner. She paces well but does not have a spectacular sprint. She has well-defined leg and thigh muscles, with medium developed chest muscles. She has some excess skin at her neck, and soft jowls that are not really a dominant feature. She drools only occasionally.

Chloe has had a malignant small mole removed from an ear at 4 years old. She has no other health problems and has easy-to-care for teeth. Her fur is soft and she sheds twice a year, but not excessively. She weights 65 pounds, dries quickly after a bath, and rarely has a “doggie smell”.

She loves to retrieve, and loves to work with a strong desire to please. She has a deep bark which is decidedly unfeminine. She will “sing”/howl if she hears another dog howl, but never tries to do so on her own.

What am I… Really?

Wouldn’t it be strange if people stopped to ask me, “What are you anyway?” Oh sure, I am from a German bloodline, but what if that question meant something far DEEPER? Could you look at someone and determine…

“They have a good heart. They are kind and gracious. They are forgiving and teachable. They wag their tails when they are happy and do not drool excessively!”

Yeah. OK, that last part was a bit over the top. But do you stop to consider what YOU are… REALLY? I really want people to look at me and SEE something far deeper. I want them to see a confident person with numerous ABILITIES in spite of a disability. I want them to see a friendly, inquisitive, polite person that would make a good friend. In public, we encounter large numbers of people… at least in my area. You only get one chance at a good FIRST impression. What do people see when they see you?

I think one of the most complimentary things anyone ever said about me was at an assistance dog/service dog conference in Baltimore several years ago. Numerous clients from Fidos For Freedom attended the conference since it was practically “local” for us. In between sessions, we would walk around and talk to numerous other teams from all over the country. I struck up a conversation with a man from California. He was blind and was there with his guide dog. After we had talked for about 10 minutes, he asked,

“You are a person of faith, aren’t you Denise?”

I was a little startled at the change of topic, but readily answered, “Yes… I’m a Christian and my faith is very important to me!”

He responded, “I could tell. It’s pretty evident and I can always tell after talking to someone for awhile”.

Something happened to interrupt our conversation and we went our separate ways. I’ve thought about that moment many times since. Exactly HOW DID HE KNOW? What did he hear and sense that led him to draw that kind of conclusion? More importantly… can I continue to live that way and respond that way so that others see the same?

I certainly don’t condone being hypocritical and not “being who you are”. Most people can spot a fake pretty quickly. Avoid being condescending in your kindness. If it isn’t REAL to you, why? I want to be a positive advocate for people with hearing loss and Meniere’s disease. I can only be that if I’m genuine and positive about what I am able to do in spite of my disabilities.

What about you? What are you… REALLY?

P.S. ADDED 4/28/10:  Read here for the results!

Denise Portis

© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal