Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Call to People Who Are Halfway Decent with HTML!

My blog is looking a little rough.  I had made a drop down menu on the previous layout, and ALL I did was change the background picture for the season, and that drop down menu kind of exploded.  I'm not sure what happened, I'm using the same template, literally just changed the picture.  I'm really bad with technology.  But anyways, bloggers reading this, if you feel like you're skilled enough at web design to clean up my blog then I will paint a portrait of your pet in return!  I haven't really posted yet about my animal portraits, but I am an artist and I enjoy painting animals and landscapes.  Here are some examples of my work:

"Windsor" Yellow Lab

"Jayne" Beagle

"Charlie"  Chocolate Lab

"Chloe" Whippet

I usually do dogs, but I can do any animal!  I just painted my sister a portrait of her hedgehog for Christmas.  So even if you don't have a pet but you have a favorite wild, prehistoric, or fictional animal that you want me to paint, I can do that.


- I would like my blog to look neat and somewhat professional at least, so I'm cool with you changing the layout and template.
- I only ask you keep the current picture for the banner, and the content/pages the same.
- In return I will paint one portrait containing one or two pets (an $80 value).  
- I will need at least one good photo to work from.  You can choose the background color if you like, I usually only do solid backgrounds.
- Shipping will be free if it's staying in the US.  However, I just can't afford international shipping so if you live outside of the US, you will have to pay for shipping.
- Portraits typically take 1-2 months to complete.
- Email me at and we can talk!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Plans for the New Year

No one can deny that 2016 was pretty much a killjoy, but Delilah and I are so excited about the potential 2017 has to offer!  Last year I started making some plans and goals for things I'd like to accomplish this year!


1) Luxating Patella Surgery:  Delilah has luxating patellas (floating knee caps) in both of her hind legs which makes it uncomfortable for her to exercise.  Whenever we go on walks she usually hops along on three legs.  This is part of the reason why we stopped agility training.  This year, I would like to get her surgery and physical therapy for this problem.  If left untreated it can develop into arthritis, and I like being active with my dogs, so I want Delilah to be comfortable during hikes, walks, and training.  She will definitely be getting surgery this year, when depends on whether I can do payments or if I'll have to save up to pay the entire bill at once.

2) Raw Diet:  I used to get Zignature for free when I worked full time at the dog daycare.  Now that I only work part time, I only get discounted food (including raw).  Delilah has one more bag of Zignature to go through (it will probably take her 3-4 months) and then we're going to try a raw diet.  She already gets raw food during training and I give her some raw meat when I'm cooking, so I don't think she'll have much trouble switching over.


1) Compulsive Disorder:  Delilah's still very anxious around people but that continues to improve slowly but surely thanks to behavior modification and fluoxetine.  The main issue I have with her now is she continues to obsess over things like light, spots on the ground, water, and dust.  Right now what I think I'm going to try is to increase her fluoxetine from 3 mg to 5 mg, another thing I'm going to be talking to the vet about.  For those who are new to Delilah's and my journey, when she becomes stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, her compulsive behaviors become worse.  It got to the point in training classes and trials that she would completely zone out and just fixate on things like dust instead of focusing on what we were learning.  It became very frustrating for both of us and the other reason why we stopped agility and barn hunt.

2) Agility Training:  Depending on how her surgery goes and how much she improves on her fluoxetine, I would like to resume agility training.  Classes are too stressful for Delilah so I'm thinking that we could try private sessions instead.  I don't think we'll ever be able to compete, but it's something we have both enjoyed in the past, I want to continue training for fun.


1) Dog Mountain:  I've been to Stephen Huneck's Dog Mountain once before with Mia, and we had a great time hiking on the mountain and visiting the gallery and Dog Chapel.  I'd like to go with Delilah now, she'd love hiking and meeting the other dogs there.  I also want to leave a note for Mia in the Dog Chapel, with a photo from when we had visited.

One of these things is not like the others!  Mia and the sculptures at the Dog Chapel.
2) Camping:  My boyfriend and I have been talking about going camping, and I'd love to do that with Delilah.  She always seems most comfortable out in the woods- it would be a really fun adventure for us!

My Personal Goals

1) Volunteering at HSCC:  When I was in college I used to intern and volunteer at my local Humane Society.  Mostly I walked dogs and helped with some of the cleaning.  It was really fun to meet all of the different animals at the shelter and help make their stays more enjoyable!  Other than the dogs, I also loved hanging out with the bunnies.  I've already attended a volunteer orientation, and I'm going in tomorrow for some training.  My goal: volunteer for 100 hours this year.

An HSCC dog that I used to walk.
2) Explosives Detection Canine Handler:  This is a longer term goal and I don't expect it to happen in the next year, but hopefully within the next three years I will be able to achieve it.  I want to handle  bomb sniffing dogs for the TSA, and I would prefer to stay in Vermont (though there are certain areas I would consider moving to).  Currently I'm working my resume, continuing to build up my security and dog handling experience, and hopefully some positions will become available this year that I can apply to!

3) New Puppy:  In the next year or two, I'm hoping to bring home a Rat Terrier puppy.  There's a local breeder that I know who breeds and shows AKC and UKC Rat Terriers, and has also participated in dog sports like weight pull, terrier racing, and agility.  They seem like a really good match for what I'm looking for- something structurally sound, mentally stable.  A small, athletic dog that I can train and compete in dog sports with (I have particularly enjoyed agility and barn hunt).  Last week, we learned that Delilah is a Jack Russell x Rat Terrier mix.  And I love Delilah so much, these dogs are very similar, but well bred and socialized, so ideally I'd be able to avoid many of the mental and physical health issues I've had with Delilah.  Obviously this goal is a little longer termed, because Delilah's surgery and mental health are my first priority.  But once she's doing well, I'm definitely going to start planning for a second dog.

One of their rat terriers who lives with my friend.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Delilah's Embark Results!

Public Results (<- Link)

Overall I'm very impressed with this test! I had initially wanted it because I was curious about Delilah's breed, but the health results and genetic traits ended up being much more interesting and useful to me! This was very, very cool.  If I wanted I could download her raw genetic data from over 200,000 markers if I wanted to use or interpret it myself, but that's way over my head.  Another nice thing that they do is update your test results for free as research advances and they find new genetic associations to test for and interpret.  I'm so glad we did this test, it was well worth the price and the wait!  Here are some points of interest from Delilah's results.

Health Results

Delilah was tested for 162 genetic diseases and disorders. Surprisingly, she was clear for all of them! Not even a carrier. Not every disease tested for exists in terriers, many of them are breed specific diseases. But I guess the idea is if you have a mutt and you don't know what it is, it could potentially have any of them.  I don't think you'll be able to see her health results on her public profile, so I took a screen shot of the summary.  Obviously, it goes into much more detail about each disease that was tested for.


The test says that Delilah is about 88% Russell-Type Terrier (Jacks, Parsons, and Russell terriers) and 12% Rat Terrier. I suspected Rat Terrier, I didn't really think she was JRT at all! Even the ones without the short legs tend to be sturdier dogs. Additionally, the analysis estimated her weight to be around 18 lbs, which would make sense for a JRT x Rat Terrier mix, but Delilah is only a third of that size!

I emailed the company asking about the size and telling them that I had suspected Delilah to be a Toy Fox Terrier. They got back to me within 24 hours and this was the response:

"I can understand why you would wonder that. Delilah shares five times as much of her genetic material with Russell-Type Terriers than Toy Fox Terriers, which is consistent with Russell-Type Terrier ancestry (as you point out the two breeds are related so any dog that has one in them will also have some---but less---genetic material matching the other breed). So it's not really possible that she has much Toy Fox Terrier in her. With that said, it's impossible with these related breeds to rule out small genetic contributions from a breed like Toy Fox Terrier that are masked by the much larger Russell-Type Terrier ancestry, and it's possible that contributed to her looks. But I want to stress that from her genes, she most likely is 88% Russell-Type Terrier and 12% Rat Terrier, and she certainly has no more than 5% Toy Fox Terrier in any case. 

Regarding her size, the genetics for extremely large or extremely small size aren't very well known. Our algorithm uses all the known body size loci and Delilah had the small version of almost all of them which is why she is predicted to be a small dog (<20 lbs). We're hoping to use dogs of extreme size (both large and small) to help scientists discover the mutations that differentiate small dogs from tiny dogs (and large dogs from massive dogs), and will add Delilah's weight information to our research panel. Thanks for sending it!" 

I had really suspected Toy Fox Terrier!  I guess now I get to call Delilah my Teacup Russell! :P  My boyfriend's calling her a Jack Rat. 

Delilah and Leo, a full Jack Russell

Traits/Advanced Results

I've just always been interested in coat color genetics so I found that section to be pretty interesting. Also the JRT and Rat Terrier would explain why she's red and white with a mask since TFTs can't be that color.  It looks like Embark recently updated their site and you can't currently see advanced results on Delilah's public profile.  Here's a little glimpse of what they look like.


The traits section is the section where I first noticed something unusual. Her inbreeding coefficient is 47%, which is very high. I always suspected she was a little inbred because she's a little mentally abnormal, and we've always had some sort of health or behavior issue going on with her. I didn't realize it was that high. A brother x sister mating would result in an inbreeding coefficient of roughly 50%.

There are a couple of visuals included that also indicate a brother x sister mating (as opposed to a 100% inbred dog crossed with a non inbred dog). One is on the summary when it breaks down the breed mix by chromosome. Rather than a pure Russell crossed with a Russell x Rat Terrier, it looks like the chromosomes from each parent (in a chromosome pair, one comes from the father and one from the mother) are very similar and both contain mostly JRT DNA with a little bit of Rat Terrier DNA. In some pairs, such as 13 and 37, the chromosomes look almost identical. So the parents were the same mix. This is represented in the family tree, where both parents had an identical background. It really looks like her parents were indeed siblings. This explains SO MUCH about her health and mental issues.