Remember how I wrote about my boys in the “About My Boys” page above ^^^ and how people always ask me what kind of dogs they are? And how I linked to a National Geographic story on village dogs in Africa? No? Okay, I’ll give you a minute to go back and review.
All finished? Great. Well, then let’s move on in the story. On a whim, I decided to contact the professor at Cornell University who is conducting the study on African village dogs and told him about Joe and Marty, my little Afghanistan village dog rescues. I asked if there had been any research conducted on Afghan dogs, or if it was something there might be an interest in for the future. To my delight, and complete surprise, he wrote back to me within a day and said, “I’m happy to analyze Joe and Marty if you’re able to get blood samples from them…” Um, okay. (!!!!) How cool is that? We will finally get to know what kind of dogs they are! This is pretty epic.
I contacted a veterinarian I know from church and he agreed to come out and take blood samples and body measurements from the boys so we could submit their paperwork and samples to Cornell University’s Biobank for study and analysis.
It was about 9000 degrees outside the day we collected samples, and the boys were a little cranky and restless. Okay, Marty was a little cranky and a lot restless. Joe handled it like a champ. Poor Marty required the help of three people to keep him still and calm while his blood was drawn. He was not a happy camper. Luckily he was willing to forgive us all within a few hours.
Consent forms, official measurement forms, and blood samples were gathered together and shipped to the laboratory manager. It will likely be several months before we have any results (I have no idea how long it takes to analyze a dog’s DNA structure, but it only takes about ten minutes on Law and Order to get human results back from the lab, so dogs shouldn’t take much longer and might even be faster).
To be honest, I wouldn’t be overly surprised to find out Marty has some kind of known breed in him (the guy looks so much like a Labrador, with some Greyhound or Great Dane to his build), but I don’t know how he would have any of these breeds in him. Afghans simply don’t keep dogs as pets and they certainly don’t breed them, so I don’t know how those breeds would be in the gene pool. He’s an enigma. But hopefully not for long. Then again, if either of them have modern breed DNA, it opens more questions than it actually answers… because then canine historians will have to figure out how and when they were mixed into the village dog gene pool.
The study from Africa is continuing this year. The article from National Geographic was from villages in East Africa. This year the focus is on West African dogs. (Digression: Do east and west need to be capitalized here? I’m not sure, but I assume so since I didn’t use eastern or western and I kind of made them part of the name.) The study is intended to eventually study global samples, so Joe and Marty (and their other rescued cousins from Afghanistan) will help answer questions about the domestication of dogs throughout history. While I’m excited to know more about Joe and Marty, I am even more thrilled about the contribution they might help make to the scientific research into canine development and evolution.
If you are a parent of an Afghanistan village rescue dog, and are interested in participating in this study, please contact me in the comments section or through The Adventures of Joe and Marty‘s Facebook page for details.
I have to be honest… some of these pictures were staged after the fact. I was so distracted by the reactions of Joe and Marty during the actual measurement and blood draw phase that I forgot to take pictures. So, Michelle from Just Like Home Pet Sitting and I pulled out the measuring tape again that afternoon and snapped a few pictures for the blog. So these are dramatization photos, but rest assured, the events they depict are based on actual events, and any resemblance to real persons or dogs, living or dead, is purely intentional.