Boonie IS a Breed

It’s no secret that Guam, like many other islands, has a huge stray dog population problem. These strays, aka boonies, can be found on every corner and parking lot due to the rock’s lack of proper animal control. While the animal shelter – yes, we have just one – works its tail off (pun intended), there always have been and likely will always be stray boonie dogs and feral cats all over the island. Lucky for us, they are usually friendly or terrified of humans so they don’t cause too many problems; though I will admit that it can get really annoying to have to frequently stop in traffic for a pack of 10 of them to cross the road.

As a result of the high boonie population, almost all families here adopt at least one to do their part. One of the most common conversations you have with tourists and/or new arrivals goes something like this:

NEWBIE: “What kind of dog is he?”

ME: “He’s a boonie.”

NEWBIE: “But what breed is he?”

ME: “…a boonie?…”

*awkward pause and subsequent blank staring at one another*

I have news for you: BOONIE IS A BREED!

Out of curiosity, we decided to have a DNA test performed on one of our pups, Thor. We ordered a test kit online, sent his swabs in, and anxiously awaited the results. About 2 weeks later, we received an email with his results stating he was a Staffordshire Terrier mixed with a St. Bernard.

Please tell me where the St. Bernard traits are - all I see is goofball!

Please tell me where the St. Bernard traits are – all I see is goofball!

Clearly, this is not the case. So I emailed the company back letting them know that we live on a tropical island and there was no way Thor is part St. Bernard – they are not even allowed to be brought to the island. After re-sending his DNA swab, we were smartly informed that Thor is a mixed breed bred with another mixed breed. I don’t know how we ever survived without this information.

Luckily, the company offered me a full refund and an interesting tidbit: with islands like Guam, the Bahamas, and Hawaii, the dog population has been so inter-breed of the years that it is nearly impossible to distinguish any specific breed among them. The DNA test offered online (like most of the ones offered at vet offices) has databases only based on dogs breeds in popular areas (US, Europe, Russia, etc.).

So for all the islanders out there, if you were considering it, don’t waste your time or money on DNA testing. Just know that your island pup is one of the best, most unique breeds out there – boonie! Adopting from your local shelter gives that stray animal the chance to have a loving family and takes one more off the streets. Not to mention, if you ever leave your rock, you will have an exotic, imported dog. Doesn’t that sound so much classier than a pure breed anyway?

The two boonies who stole our hearts - and our beds.

The two boonies who stole our hearts – and our bed. Thor, left; Nala, right.

No matter where your furry friend comes from or how you got them, please remember the wise words of Bob Barker: “Help control the animal population, have your pet spayed or neutered!”

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Kellie Morgan

About Kellie Morgan

As a military brat, Kellie has moved from place to place, including the tiny islands of the Azores. After moving away to Kansas for college, Kellie finally thought she had escaped the risk of island life again. She was in for a big surprise when her husband enlisted in the Air Force and was sent to - you guessed it - an island. Kellie moved to Guam in 2014 with just her husband and crazy cat. They now have, in Guam tradition, two boonie dogs and three chickens. About a month after moving to Guam, Kellie found out she was pregnant. She had her wonderful son thousands of miles away from family, but her son follows in her family tradition of having an overseas birth certificate.

Originally from the south, moving to an island against her will was a very tall mountain to conquer. With no country music and Chik-Fil-A, Kellie thought she was surely going to lose her mind. Luckily, she met some amazing friends who helped her cope with the culture shock and adjust to life on a rock.

Kellie is currently finishing her associate degree in journalism with hopes of one day finishing her bachelors degree in entrepreneurship. Before she moved to Guam, she was pursuing her business degree but put it on hold once she had her son. With jobs being difficult to come by, she turned her passion of writing into a way to earn extra income. It turned out that she has a knack for writing, so she now works as a freelance writer for a variety of companies. Once she finishes her journalism degree, she hopes to write for a newspaper. Her ultimate goal in life is to open a petting zoo/rabbit sanctuary.

Although their time here is only temporary, it is an experience she and her family will never forget.

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8 thoughts on “Boonie IS a Breed

  1. I had wondered about doing a DNA test on my two but it’s not something that is available in Barbados. Glad I didn’t as I suspect the results would have been much the same! St. Bernard though? No logic in that result! I call mine a “Bajan Blend” and our vet refers to one as a “Bajan Brown” since there are so many similar looking crossbreeds. Well done for adopting a rescue dog too and giving them a good life!

  2. In the Bahamas our mutt is known as The Royal Bahamian Potcake! Quite the esteemed title and well deserved, they are incredible dogs! I have also heard feed back on these DNA tests from some of the Potcakes we have found homes for abroad, and they come up with the most impossible combinations, including breeds I could not imagine would ever make it to the remote towns of Abaco.. Wonderful to include the message to Spay and Neuter your pets!! Thank you!

  3. We call our coconut retrievers on St. Croix. Bay is our sweet unknown breed. She is the goofy and protectiveof us. Island dogs are the best.

  4. I live on Roatan and dogs are everywhere. Island men think if you neuter a male dog he is no longer macho. It doesn’t matter what you tell them, they refuse to do it, they want to breed them because they think they are “purebreds” and they can make money selling them.
    We call them Coconut Retrievers and I currently have 5, although at one time I had 12. I am constantly spreading the word, spay and neuter your pets, it’s not fair to these dogs to have such horrible lives.

  5. In Nevis, I have just heard the dogs called local dogs. You find them all over the place, females that have probably had so many litters and no home, or tied up “outside” someone’s fence. Not everyone is that bad, but we have ended up with 3 local dogs along with our old Rhodesian Ridgeback. One fairly large one we call Remy, a small black one we were told was part shitzu, part chiuaua, which is possible. If I let her hair grow, she is one cute wiggly ball of fur, but that’s just cruel in this heat. Then we brought one home from Oualie beach, kind of an in between size. She is an attention hog and has such a funny personality, she gets lots of attention! They are all great dogs, Remy is very protective and our little Sophie is the first line of defense with the barking. We also have people trying to educate people here and rescuing dogs. One lady has taken several back to the U.S. to be adopted, but I think we are doing are fair share taking them in and watering the donkeys, goats, sheep and cows, LOL

  6. We did DNA testing on our island dog originally from Tortola and it came back chihuahua mixed with pit bull. We’ve been trying to convince everyone this is the case (putting our faith in science!) but no one believes it. Good to learn the test is faulty. We’ll just stick to Coconut Retriever from now on!

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