Saturday, January 23, 2016

Image of the day, January 22: The Genetics of the Dog Gene and Relationships.

When Isaiah kept begging us to get him a dog, I'd shake my head and say, "Dude. Dogs are major work."

"I know! I'll work!" he'd cry.

To which I'd reply, "Someday. But just remember: Being a dog owner ain't for no punks."

And so, as you already know, someday finally arrived. And in true Manning mama form, I promptly reminded him of that mantra the very first time Willow had an accident or needed to go out at a less than opportune time.

"Being a dog owner ain't for no punks."

I snapped this photo of him as I watched him from the door on an early wintry morning. He was groggy while pulling on his hat and boots but never tried to shirk the responsibility. Even with that dusting of snow on the ground and the bite of the wind, he toodled through that icy lawn smiling and giggling with his pup.

I guess he ain't no punk.

Seriously, though, Isaiah's been amazing. And all of this got me thinking about him and his dog gene. The medical education nerd in me finally figured it out. And so. Just in case you've never figured out your position on dogs, know that it isn't you and your lack of or overabundance of empathy. Instead it just might be your dog gene genotype.

Mmmm hmmmm.

Okay, so check it. In medical school and college genetics (and probably high school genetics, too) they teach you all about how people inherit things. When two animals or organisms or whatever mate, their genes get mixed all up in a mixing bowl. Turns out there's a method to the madness of how it all swirls out depending upon the genotypes of the parents.

You with me? Cool.

So. . .okay. Each gene is represented by two copies of an alphabet character. The letters represent how the gene gets expressed, or rather, how it looks in the offspring. A capital letter trumps the lower case letters in all cases. For example: Let's say the dog gene is represented by D. That means that a person could either be DD, Dd, or dd. Two of the same case of letter is called "homozygous." One big and one little letter is called "heterozygous."

Got that?

Okay, cool. So if you have two big D's or one big D and one little d, the outward expression of it is pretty much the same. That or you have a much more watered down version of whatever said feature may be. They call the capital letter "dominant" which means it dominates what happens in the end. The lower case characters are referred to as "recessive" and always get trumped by the big letters. Therefore, to demonstrate certain features in the offspring coded on a recessive gene, one must have TWO copies of the lower case letter.

See? You're halfway through the first semester of medical school already. So, yeah. That's basically it. Every feature of who we are is coded onto a gene that's in our chromosomes. And I firmly maintain that the dog gene is one of them.

Mmmmm hmmmm.

Since about 37% of American households have dogs, I'd go on the record as saying that the dog-loving gene is probably a recessive gene. And since you're damn near geneticists after my convoluted explanation, you should be full on ready for some genetic fun.

Okay so let's break these dog three genotypes down, shall we? Don't mind if I do.

Minority of folks: DD, that is, the "No, ma'am, no sir! Don't bring no canines 'round me!" gene. Please note that it can also be the "Scream bloody murder and have a panic attack if I see a dog within a 1 mile radius" gene.

Most folks: Dd, that is, the "Meh. I don't mind a dog. Or your dog. And would be fine to live my life without one. But could probably manage if I married a dd person who agrees to get their ass up on a regular basis" gene. This can also have variable expression and could lean toward the dog-loving gene side depending upon the type of dog and proximity to a dd person.

Minority of folks: dd, that is, the "if I don't have a dog in my home at some point, my life will NOT be complete nor will my home" gene. When there is what the geneticists call "complete penetration" these people become veterinarians, multiple dog owners, trainers, vet techs, rescue volunteers and breeders. The rest of them just go berserk when they see a dog or look at you like you're crazy if you wrinkle your nose up at the thought of a dog inside of a house.

You still with me? Cool. 

Okay, so I'm thinking Harry and I are both Dd heterozygous people. Do we mind dogs? No. But could we have taken it on in to the golden years without one? Probably.


We chose to mate. And that's where the genetic exercise comes in. Okay, so this thing is called a punnet square. (And yeah, sorry it has M's on it but that was all I could find on Google images and was already too far into my D explanation to go back and change it.)


So check this out. Top of the box? The BHE. Left side? Yours truly. The punnet square shows what happened when Harry mated Kimberly. As you can see, this combo gives you a 50% chance of being Dd which is what we think Zachary probably is. But it also gives you a 1 in 4 chance of being in the anti-dog camp or a full-on dog-loving genotyped individual.

And this? This, my friends, is the medical nerd's highly complicated and totally unnecessary interpretation of how two "meh" dog people ended up with a full on dog loving child.


This really is never an issue for a lot of folks. Especially if they are Dd and they have a bunch of Dd kids. It's only an issue when a Dd is required to live in the same house as a dd person.

Especially with a couple, man. (As for the DD/dd household? An urgent genetics consult is probably warranted.)

Okay, so back to the Dd/dd household. This is what it looks like when they mate. Praise the heavens this completely eliminates the chances of having a DD offspring.

Mmm hmmm.

But what if it isn't a mating issue and is simply a "live in harmony" issue? Well, my friends, this is what you have this random post for.

Okay, so check it. My dd friend is married to someone who is mostly likely a Dd person. She is stalking him on a daily basis to get him to break down and get a pooch. I am willing to even bet 100 dog treats that she will make said significant other read this.


And since I know she isn't alone in this plight, I offer you ten suggestions to those who are Dd and married or living with the dd people.
  1. Accept your fate. You are getting a dog. 
  2. Unless you resign yourself to the advice in #1, this won't be an issue because the dd person will worry you to death and you'll be dead.
  3. Consider getting them to get on your terms. For me, it was the breed and the timing. I asked for  six months mental preparation and a non-shedding breed. It helped me. 
  4. During the above "gestational period" read books, talk to people and fret. Then when you get the dog, it isn't as bad as you though.
  5. Get all sorts of cleaning things so your house remains non-dog smelling. 
  6. Or until you get desensitized and just think your house is non-dog smelling. 
  7. Stop thinking that a dog will cramp your style. You find out quickly that you are far lamer than you realize and you actually don't go anywhere as often as you think.
  8. Put up your chocolate. Not get rid of it. Just put it up.
  9. Get that dog something to chew on so he/she doesn't gnaw on your favorite Prada loafer, peep toe pump or worn-in Birkenstocks. Such occurrences, I'm told, are poor prognostic indicators for dogs in the homes of non-dd people.
  10. Come up with all sorts of snappy comebacks for the shit people will talk when they discover that you not only tolerate but have actually grown to LOVE the dog. These will come in handy.

You can thank me in Petco gift cards which, I forgot to mention, you will need. That is, a dog line item in your budget. 

Oh. And for those DD people out there who have just realized that they've fallen in love with a dd person? Well. I guess I'd say that this will be equally as difficult as the polar opposite religion thing. The stronger the feeling in either direction, the harder it will be for you. 

Damn! I'm breaking this down, y'all. Woooooo weeeee! 

Yeah man. So the dog gene is probably something that should be discussed before entering the covenant of marriage. Or when preparing to have babies. 


Oh! And before I forget--please know that there are a few other random genotype situations that should also be explored prior to marriage. Consider this knowledge bonus material cracked from the vault of hidden genetic mysteries. 

  • The motorcycle gene
  • The live-near-yo-mama gene
  • The firearms-in-my-house gene
  • The big city gene
  • The out in the country gene
  • The travel gene 
  • The won't-fly-on-the-same-plane gene
  • The scared-of-cruises gene
  • The football gene
  • The great outdoors gene
  • The go-to-concerts gene
  • The go-to-church gene
  • The people-stay-with-us gene
  • The go-to-bed-with-dishes-in-the-sink gene
  • The name-brand-groceries gene
  • The talk-on-the-phone gene
  • The only-likes-long-hair gene
  • The only-likes-short-hair gene
  • The never-let-the-seat-down gene
  • The too-cheap-to-dine-out gene
  • The hates-leftovers gene
  • The won't-watch-TV-with-you gene
  • The anti-social media gene

I know the married (and divorced) folks are nodding their heads and wishing they'd read this sooner. To which I say, my bad. But just think--imagine the happy homes you'll help now that I've shared the this with you! Ha. 

Man. I do believe if geneticists got involved in more relationships, so many homes would be happier. I'm just saying, man.

Damn. I meant for this to be all beautiful and deep since that picture of Isaiah above is so hauntingly peaceful. But, oh well. At minimum, I hope it gets my friend one step closer to getting a dog into her home. 

Can't you tell it's quasi snowing here and too cold to do anything? 


Happy Quasi-snow day. I wrote this on Saturday but let's count it as the one for Friday, okay?


  1. I am so happy for Isaiah! There is something so special about the love of a child for an animal.

  2. I am firmly a dd as is my husband. We currently have three dogs. Our only arguments about having dogs is about how many - I'd have many more, he'd prefer one less.

    My one piece of advice - fence in your back yard and get a doggy door. I'm getting too old to get up on a cold early morning to walk a dog or three! I prefer walks when it's a bit later and warmer. My dogs have learned to go out and take care of their business then come back and snuggle with mom in the big warm bed. Walkies will happen later!

  3. That gene type list is EVERYTHING. I am loving the pics of Isaiah with his dog. My oldest, Elijah is definitely a dd. How has the shedding situation been working out for you?

    1. So far so good. But Harry has to take Allegra for the dander.

  4. This explains EVERYTHING! I and my son Oliver's father are like you and the BHE. And Oliver is a dog lover extraordinaire. I think Sophie and Henry are like their Dad and me.

    Thanks for explaining this in terms that make me feel less guilty about my lack of love for dogs, even our own.

  5. Punnet squares for fun. Love it! I thought I was the only one who did that. And, could be chickens!


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