When dog owner Jane Flanders Salazar from Tennessee discovered that her beloved dog Diego would go blind in the future, she rescued a second dog from a nearby animal shelter as a recommended companion. What she didn’t know was that she had actually found his full sister.
Salazar and her husband had used the Embark canine DNA testing site, initially only to find out his breed – Pit Bull and Australian Cattle Dog – but his health results revealed far more important information. Just a year after Diego’s adoption in 2020, the then 2-year-old was found to have “two copies of a bad eye gene,” meaning he would likely go blind by the age of five.
“I was really sad about it. I wish I hadn’t even done it at first. I was like, ‘Gosh, why did I do this?'” Salazar told Newsweek.
There is no treatment for Diego’s vision loss that has already started, but the ophthalmologist recommended one thing: a companion to help him with this.
“I’ve done some research and it also confirmed that one of the best things you can do for a dog who has lost their eyesight is giving them a companion to fully reconnect with before they lose their eyesight.” loses. So I started looking for another one, “she said.
Diego on Halloween.
Salazar began searching local shelters to find Diego’s new friend and by chance found one who looked like him. “It was Dixie,” she said. “It looked a lot like Diego, but smaller, so we adopted her and our application was approved.”
After the life-changing news Embark delivered for Diego, it was only natural that she should do the same for Dixie. “I was convinced that it was just a coincidence that they looked alike, because their behavior is completely different from Diego’s. She is very prey-driven, she is very loving and very people-oriented. He is a bit more shy and distant, so they just didn’t. I don’t act the same. “
The DNA results told Salazar that like Diego, Dixie also had genes that could lead to health problems. “She has two copies of something that could lead to disc disease,” she explained.
But the results also found something that linked the two dogs much more than Salazar could ever have imagined. They were full siblings. “That was pretty shocking,” she said.
Dixie (left) and Diego (right)
However, the couple had a sibling relationship not far from most: “Dogs who are losing their eyesight are a bit reactive and defensive because they don’t see as well as they go back to the dog daycare because he’s just not the best at stuff “Said Salazar.” But she plays wonderfully with him. I mean, she can, she can take everything he gives her. They love each other. I mean, they’re a pretty rough house.
Although their background has not been fully confirmed, owner Salazar believes they are the product of an “irresponsible dog owner in North Georgia” as their test results show that they are both 30 percent inbred, which is likely causing their health problems.
According to Embark, 90 percent of the dogs tested have at least one dog in the database that is as genetically related as human first cousins, and 12 percent discover their dog’s siblings, parents, or children through the Relative Finder feature.
Diego (left) and Dixie (right) out for a walk.
Embark PR manager Emma-Jean Weinstein told Newsweek that while they saw similar stories, including an owner who discovered that their new dog was a relative of their previous dog who died, Salazar is the first that they have heard from adopted siblings will also be real siblings.
Using the Relative Finder, Salazar managed to track down another sibling of Diego and Dixie nearby, who is probably a littermate of Diego, but has not yet had any luck to unite them.
“I’ve been trying to contact these people and I think they think I’m a crazy dog lady because I don’t get an answer,” she laughed.
Dixie (left) and Diego (right)