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.
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?
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!”