“What kind of dog is she?” asked the friendly woman at the kennel where I take Pepper for Doggy Daycare. She was picking up her dog too. I’ve only been asked about a thousand times, and I never have just the right answer. “She is – a black dog. We tell her all the time that she won the genetic lottery,” I said, smiling, as Pepper jumped up on me, joyfully celebrating our reunion. Pep then proceeded to make friends with the woman and her yellow lab, and we walked out to our cars together.

“It would have been nice if you could have refrained from jumping up on that lady,” I told Pepper driving home.

“But she was nice! And I could tell that she liked me!” Pepper enthused.

About a month ago, my husband ordered a genetic test for Pepper – one of those tests where you swab the cheek for saliva and send it to a lab. We’d acquired Pep as a 5-pounder from a shelter and had often wondered what circumstances led her to walking the streets, with her 6-pound sister, when they were tiny pups.

The results came back, and we were surprised.

We’d thought, given her silky coat, that she might be part spaniel. We’d thought, given her athleticism and body shape, that she might be part border collie. We had been almost certain that she was part lab, given her face.

We learned that Pep is a lab-pit bull mix. A bit more lab. With some German shepherd and Boxer for seasoning.


I have nothing against pit bulls. I understand that they are loyal and fierce family dogs. But – you know, their their loyalty and ferocity have been abused. They’ve got a bit of a reputation.

“Peppy,” I told her. “You need to sit down. We’ve gotten the results back from your genetic testing.”

“Okay,” she said, getting cozy on her favorite small sofa in the kitchen.

“You are a lab-pit bull mix,” I told her. “Isn’t that – fascinating?”

“I’ve always thought I was a lab mix!” she exclaimed – then her face fell. She paused, and continued more quietly. “But you always said I looked like a spaniel. And a border collie. I’m not sure about being half pit bull.”

I sat down on a chair beside her and stroked her beautiful face, her beautiful strong body. 

“Am I… dangerous?” she whispered.

It was my turn to pause.

“Yes, you are dangerous,” I whispered back, my head close to hers. “You are dangerous because you are strong and fierce and true. You have love in your heart – and courage. At my best, I am dangerous, too,” I told her.

“Then we can be dangerous together,” she whispered back, and all was well in the world.

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Note: My vet and other experienced professionals in the field question the results.