Who’s the guy in the dog suit? A DNA test will finally reveal the truth!

Teddy is one of those canine characters who seems to be only pretending to be a dog — just for the free food.

He is beyond engaging, and often appears to be playing charades with you in an effort to communicate: “First word, sounds like …” He is patient with humans, but occasionally I feel chided for not trying hard enough. “If you were working at this half as hard as I am, we’d be sailing here. C’mon, put in a little more effort,” he seems to say.

Teddy is the proverbial guy in a dog suit, and everyone who meets him wants to know what kind of dog he is.

“He’s a Katrina dog”, I reply — diverting the conversation away from the mystery of visual breed identification to his equally interesting back story, on which I am more qualified to comment.

Teddy showed up at the Best Friends emergency shelter in Tylertown, Mississippi, on October 16, 2005, about six weeks after the storm blew through. That means he was probably just a 10-week old puppy when he found himself on the streets of the Algiers section of New Orleans, just across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter. He’d been hanging around the campsite of a demolition crew, which brought him to the attention of one of our rescue teams in the area. He looked nothing like he does now. His ears flopped over, his short wiry coat was patchy, and his skin inflamed by mange. By then he was about 16 weeks old and I guess he had survived on the streets thanks to a combination of the kindness of post-disaster cleanup crews and his own smarts.

Teddy’s photo was circulated on the web along with those of thousands of other abandoned animals in search of their families. Like many lost Katrina pets, he was never claimed, and eventually he settled into our household.

Ten years later, I’d like to (once and for all) put to rest the question of what’s really going on inside his genes. So, as part of a continuing commemoration of the 10th anniversary of our work at Hurricane Katrina, my wife Silva and I decided to have a DNA panel run on Teddy, but I’m hoping to have some fun with this while his test kit makes its way through the mail and the testing lab.

Do you think you can guess Teddy’s genetic identity?

If you haven’t met Teddy or seen one of his photos or videos that I post gratuitously on Facebook, he’s the white dog on my left in the photo accompanying my blog posts. Here is a short video of him doing one of his self-taught, attention-grabbing routines as well as him just shambling along on a walk in the desert.

To help in your assessment, I’ll provide you with a couple of clues. Teddy looks like a Westie who ate a piece of radioactive kibble and grew to the size of a chow. Given his black tongue, the odds are high that he does have some chow in his genes, but the rest is a fun guessing game until the test comes in.

He also has some very strong terrier traits. He is obsessed with rodents of all types and is a better mouser than the cats. So, whenever we see Teddy scratching in a corner, we get him out of the room in order to save the terrified mouse. That could be a terrier gene poking its head up, or it could a remnant of his forced survival training in the post-Katrina debris.

So let’s have a little fun with this. My guess is Chow / Wheaton. To play, click here to fill out the entry form (you must use the form to be eligible to win – comments on the blog won’t count!). You can choose up to three breeds. Everyone who answers correctly will be entered into a drawing to win an 8x10 paw-tographed photo of Teddy himself! If no one guesses correctly, we’ll just choose a random winner from everyone who entered.

Good luck!

Francis Battista