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"Who's Your Daddy": DNA testing for your dog

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"Who's Your Daddy" DNA test parties for dogs are turning into great fundraising opportunities. Dog lovers are getting creative when it comes to giving back to animal welfare. Take, for example, Rebekkah Woodard, an interior designer in Nashville, Tenn. When she and her husband brought the now-one-year-old Otis home from the local SPCA last summer, they believed he was a purebred.

"I had always wanted a Saint Bernard puppy and here the shelter had just gotten several,'' she said. "With all the right coloring, I adopted him on the spot.''

But as Otis started to grow, Rebekkah realized he wasn't nearly as big as he should be if he were truly a purebred. After hearing about dog DNA testing from a friend, she decided to have Otis checked. The results showed he was part Border Collie, Poodle, Basset Hound, and Basenji.

Not a lick of Saint Bernard in him.

While Rebekkah and her husband were surprised, they were also inspired to celebrate the new discovery by throwing a "Who's Your Daddy'' party. In doing so, they not only engaged their friends, but also raised money for the local rescue shelter.

An innovative way to fundraise

So what exactly is a Who's Your Daddy party? It's an innovative way to fundraise that's predicated on DNA testing your mixed-breed dog - and then, inviting friends to bet $20 per guess on the results.

Whoever guesses correctly at the party gets half the collection. The rest goes to the host's animal charity of choice. At Woodard's party, the winner also donated her portion to the cause, allowing a total of $700 to be raised in one night for the SPCA.

A great motivator for DNA testing

Who's Your Daddy is also a great way to motivate around DNA testing, said Hope Schultz, co-founder of WebVet.com, who recently threw a party for her dog Max and raised $500 for PAWS Chicago.

After having her vet do a "Wisdom Panel'' on him - a $125 test developed by Mars Veterinary that detects 134 American Kennel Club-recognized breeds - Schultz learned the dog she once thought was mostly Portuguese water dog was really a mix of Airedale terrier, Chow, and Basenji.

"I was surprised, especially about the Basenji,'' she said. "Still, having that information allows me to better understand Max's behavior as well as his predisposition to certain health issues. And knowing both allows me to be a better mom to him.''

Help your guests make an accurate guess

Like any other party, you can do this one big and bold, low key, or somewhere in between. For example, Woodard and her husband piggybacked theirs onto a Tennessee Titans game, inviting friends over to bet on it and Otis' background.

And while Schultz made sure her guests were "very well fed and lubricated,'' she and others agree you don't have to spend a lot of money to be successful. More important is giving guests enough information about your dog to accurately assess its breed.

To do that, she and Woodard put up posters with pictures and short descriptions of 12 AKC-recognized breeds to reference. In hindsight, Schultz wished she'd also created a short profile to help those who didn't know Max as well understand more about his personality.

Still, both Schultz and Woodard agree: A Who's Your Daddy party is less about getting it right, and more about being creative in achieving good things.

"Nobody at my party guessed more than one of Max's three breeds,'' Schultz said. "But at the end of the day, it didn't matter. Everybody had a good time. We raised money for animal welfare. And I learned more about how to best care for my dog. Everyone benefits.''

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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