Dogs Randul and Clooney reunited in Arizona with help from the Relative Finder feature of the Embark DNA test
Dog brothers Randul and Clooney are helping each other have a brighter future.
The canine siblings recently reunited after being separated earlier in their lives. The bulldog mixes were able to find their way back to each other thanks to their owners' curiosity.
Rachel Gross, Randul's owner, and Lisa Donaldson, Clooney's owner, both got Embark DNA tests for their rescue dogs to learn more about the breeds that make up their pets.
The tests revealed that the dogs, who reside in Arizona, are a mix of bulldog, golden retriever, chow chow, and more. For Donaldson, the test also led her to Randul and Gross through Embark's Relative Finder option.
"Based on genetic relatedness, we found out that they're full siblings," Donaldson tells PEOPLE, who connected with Gross through a mutual contact after learning Randul was related to Clooney.
The news of a nearby sibling was exciting for Gross, who had helped Randul with various health issues since first meeting the pup in 2020 when Gross and her fiancé decided to start fostering dogs.
"We contacted the Maricopa County shelter, and they provided us with a photograph of Randul along with his profile. Described as a 'project dog' due to his intense anxiety and challenging social behaviors, Randul defied expectations. In a short span, he began to exhibit his remarkable and affectionate personality, forging a deep bond with us. Within less than 72 hours, Ari and I were certain that we would ultimately become foster failures, unable to part with Randul as he had become an integral part of our lives," Gross says.
Unfortunately, shortly after falling in love with the pet, Gross discovered a health issue.
"Approximately three days into our foster journey, we noticed an alarming sign – blood from his genitals. We promptly sought medical attention at the county vet, where we received the distressing diagnosis of TVT cancer, which stands for Transmissible Venereal Tumor," she says.
Gross and her fiancé worked with Medical Animals In Need, an Arizona-based volunteer group dedicated to helping shelter animals with costly medical needs, to get Randul the treatment he needed to recover. Once Randul was fully healed, Gross and her fiancé officially adopted the dog.
Randul has had several more health issues since his cancer diagnosis, including osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, tooth extractions, and a neurological episode similar to a stroke that required rehabilitation exercises to recover from.
"Despite these health hurdles, Randul's resilience and our commitment to his wellbeing have only strengthened our bond with him," Gross says.
As part of her commitment to Randul's happiness, Gross was quick to set up a playdate between Randul and Clooney when Donaldson reached out with the news that the dogs are brothers.
The owners decided to arrange a meet-up with the dogs at a local park, where it quickly became apparent how alike the canines were.
"They seemed familiar with each other and had many of the same mannerisms," Gross said of the reunion, which was beneficial for the pet parents as well.
While the dogs played, Donaldson and Gross chatted about their pets' peculiarities and found plenty of overlap.
"Randul and Clooney have so many similarities; they are both indescribably sweet and affectionate, despite all their hardships prior to entering our lives. They are both terrified of thunder and fireworks. Their whole bodies shake in terror," Gross says.
Gross and Donaldson also exchanged information about the dogs' health journeys, allowing each owner to get valuable insight into medical issues to be prepared for and how to handle them.
"Hearing about the other one's traits or medical issues has been helpful to know what to look out for," Gross says of discussing the dogs with Donaldson.
The pet parents hope to keep meeting to support each other and let Clooney and Randul build their bond as brothers.
Not all pet parents will find their furry friend's sibling when they get a DNA test for their dog or cat, but there is still plenty of helpful information that can be found in the results.
"Knowledge is power; I would encourage everyone to get a DNA test in order to gain more information about their dog. This data can be utilized to tailor a dog's care to provide them the best possible life," Dr. Jenna Dockweiler, DVM, DACT, a veterinary geneticist at Embark Veterinary Inc., says.
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"A DNA test offers a more accurate way to decode a dog's breed mix, as this can be very difficult to determine based on looks alone. Knowing which breeds make up an individual dog may offer clues about activities the dog may enjoy most, potential training motivators to consider, or even which breed-associated health conditions may develop. Next, DNA testing will reveal which known genetic diseases a dog may be at risk of developing; knowing this information before symptoms develop typically offers the greatest opportunity for early intervention. Lastly, personalized medicine information may be uncovered, such as MDR1 drug sensitivity," she summarizes.
Donaldson says that the experience of getting a DNA test for Clooney, whom she adopted in 2021 after the dog was found alone in south Phoenix, "was fun and exciting."
"I was hoping to find out Clooney's breed mix. Finding out about relatives was unexpected and wonderful," she says.
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