A Tail of Long Lost Siblings: Fred & Fiona

Someone in California decided to abandon a dog in a park in 2014. He was brought to a shelter, wasn’t claimed, and was listed for adoption.

I was working at the shelter as an adoption counselor at the time, so I met him before he was available to the public. He was rambunctious, totally untrained, and a typical husky teenager.

I remember showing him to someone who traveled from Hollywood to meet him after she saw his photo listed on the shelter’s website. She quickly decided that he was “too much dog” for her.

I knew that he needed the right kind of home that could handle his personality and strong husky breed traits. He acted like he lived in someone’s backyard with little to no attention that he craved so desperately.

I was a cat lady at the time and lived with my original foster failure cats, Milana and Vinnie, and a rough-looking FIV+ cat named Chester who I took in from the streets.

I was not looking to adopt a large dog, but there was something irresistible about “Freddie.” I just knew that he HAD to be mine.

I decided that doing a cat test would decide whether or not he would come home with me. My co-workers helped him meet a confident cat at the shelter, and he passed with flying colors.

Fred’s shelter intake photo — I am holding his leash! He eventually ate those shoes…

He came home with me in July of 2014 and was my adventure buddy in Southern California

Fred’s classic “I’M FREEEEEE!” gallop at the dog beach

In July 2015, we had to move from California to Wisconsin. I packed a few bags, gave away most of my belongings to a thrift store that is run by my friends’ rescue Foster Army in Riverside, CA because I had to have room for my big boy Fred, 2 foster rabbits, and my 5 cats. Priorities, right?

After we got to Wisconsin, we did some fostering and adopted 2 dog friends, Freja & Josie.

In 2017, someone in Perris, CA decided to give a perfect dog named Diamond away at a yard sale when she was neglected and tied to a chain in their yard. The woman who took “Diamond” couldn’t keep her, so someone in the rescue community networked her.

Someone I knew tagged me on a post about her, and I got the same feeling that I had when I met Fred for the first time. I knew that she had to come to me. The original plan was for her to be my temporary foster. Whoops!

She fit in perfectly right away, so she became a foster failure in record time. I decided to rename her because she didn’t respond to “Diamond”. Since I already had Fred and Freja, I went with another F name — Fiona!

From 2017 to 2019, I was frequently asked if they were related. Fred was listed as a husky/shepherd mix at the shelter, but he had a lot of goofy bully breed traits too. I had him tested in 2014 through another DNA company, but there were questionable and incomplete results. His test came back with Siberian Husky, American Staffordshire Terrier, and A LOT of unknowns.

I thought that Fiona was probably husky, maybe shepherd and possibly lab?

I wanted to do a new DNA test for them to see if they had some of the same breeds because they were so similar.

I was not satisfied with Fred’s previous results, so I started researching other tests.

I saw that some of my friends had tested their dogs through Embark. After reading about it, I learned that:

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I joined the Embark Dog DNA Discussion Facebook group before I ordered tests and was amazed at how many incredible stories there were. I remember reading about a dog who got symptoms of a condition that their Embark test detected shortly after they got their results back.

I wanted to know what types of genetic health conditions my dogs had so I could have time to prepare. Finding out what breeds they were was just a fun addition.

I also tested my purebred samoyed who I adopted from a samoyed rescue in 2016 just to see if she came back with any health concerns.

Her results came back first, so I anxiously waited for Fred and Fiona’s to find out if they were similar breeds.

Freja’s skin issues quickly cleared up after she switched to raw food.

When I got their results back, the first thing I noticed was their breed lists.

I was not expecting their results to be that similar! I figured that it was just a weird coincidence since so many huskies and bully breeds are backyard bred/dumped in California.

Then I started looking at their family trees…

I knew that the generated family trees aren’t 100% accurate sometimes, but they were still weirdly similar. Did I really adopt 2 dogs who were this alike?

I decided to post in the Embark Discussion group on Facebook to see if an expert could help me wrap my head around the results.

I learned that I could get “relatedness” information from Embark directly.

The COR (or coefficient of relatedness) between Fiona and Freddie is 51%, so their system indicates that they are full siblings!

I have no idea if they feel like they know each other from their younger life in California, but they are a perfect match!

I really hope that I will get an alert that another close family member is added to the Embark database in the future. I can’t help but be curious about their past.

Follow their adventures @fredandfionareunite

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Read more about Fred & Fiona at iggysays.com!