An InGENEius product

Embarrassing fact: I LOVE Skymall magazine. I’m a frequent flyer, and it never gets old — I’m not one of those people who reads Skymall after they’ve exhausted all other options, I tend to pick it up as soon as I’m in my seat, and pore over every page, often rereading it later in the flight. Of course, I never imagined that among the electric nose hair trimmers, tacky garden statues and pet stairsets that I’d find something I needed to buy.

Yet, about a year ago, I discovered in Skymall the dog DNA test. With a simple cheek swab and $70, the product promised to discern your dog’s breeding. Immediately I knew I had to have it. You see, my family has a very cute mutt dog, and her breeding a topic of frequent and bitter debate. Though the pet store advertised her breeding as “chow, lab-terrier,” my father insists she must be half golden retriever, and we have spent several hours a week debating this point for about ten years now.

You can judge for yourself:

$70 is a small price to pay to irrevocably beat your dad in an argument, and so I purchased the DNA kit, hoping for long-overdue vindication.

Finally the kit arrived, and the family gathered around to swab the dog’s cheek. Naturally, we all had to be present to ensure that neither side unfairly tried to skew the evidence.

After a long wait, our results arrived — Chow was the clear winner, genetically speaking. The rest of the breeds the test picked up were Pomeranian and Husky, both of which are related to Chows. That was $70 down the drain.

The last time I was on a flight, I noticed a new Skymall product, or I guess I should say, I noticed that they have repurposed the dog DNA test for humans. A friend of mine has tried the DNA test offered by National Geographic, which she strongly supported, but I have my doubts.

After all, dogs have been much more carefully bred into distinct genetic types, yet this DNA test was pretty useless. I can’t help but wonder how accurate the human test can really be, but it is exciting to think about the future possibilities for learning family history with the swab of a Q-tip.