Friday, September 15, 2023

Pet Peeve


For the past several days, I've been mulling over the options regarding my latest research dilemma. While I had so carefully laid out my research plans for the entire year—my Twelve Most Wanted, a plan set at the beginning of January—this month with my father-in-law's Tully line, I find myself running short of plan. With half a month yet to go, I have absolutely no further material to help me find answers. And that dilemma—reaching all the brick wall ancestors in each family line—is becoming my latest pet peeve, as we'll see as we launch into the goals for the last quarter of this year.

While casting about for a viable alternative approach, I returned to my trees at to snag screen shots of the fan view beta option which recently popped up on my account. What should greet my bleary eyes upon pulling up the site again but a screaming green banner announcing, "Know Your Pet DNA by Ancestry is here."

Now, before you jump on the bandwagon headed in either direction—yay or nay—let me share a little story. 

It was years ago when I first tried talking one of my paternal cousins into springing for a DNA test. I was particularly stuck on my father's line—a perennial complaint of mine, thanks to my grandfather's silence about his true roots—and hoped that having another DNA participant on my father's side might help.

My cousin had plenty of questions, which I was careful to address. I was beginning to feel worthy of being sainted for my patience—or at least worthy of a sale on my proposal to have her test—when she suddenly confessed that she actually knew quite a bit about genetic genealogy.

The only difference between what she knew and what I knew? She did her testing on horses. She was a horse breeder, and DNA testing was an important way to verify that the right family lines were involved in the pedigree.

I've since heard similar stories from people who are dog breeders, as well. We think of DNA as the domain of our own genealogical endeavors, but DNA testing is apparently something used in a number of domains.

Thus, when Ancestry introduced their own DNA tests for pets this week, I wasn't surprised. There are many people who care very much for their pet, perhaps seeing that pet more as part of their family than simply an animal companion living in the same house. I'm curious to see how this offering resonates with the current market, though. Verifying a purebred line for which a customer may have paid highly is one thing; curiosity about the roots of a pet rescued from the pound may not be as compelling. I think seeing how this product fares may be more revealing about us as a culture than it will be about the pet for whom we laid down the purchase price.

Rather than stare at the neon green ribbon across my computer screen, though, I hope the anticipated big change heralded on a banner on the DNA page (for humans, that is) will live up to its hype. "Even more precision in the coming weeks" hopefully wasn't delayed due to this other product launch. I'd much rather have more information on my father's mysterious roots than know that Fido was merely a mongrel, after all.

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