DNA Test Reveals Chicago Family's New Rescue Dog from Texas Is a Cousin of Their Late Pet

German shepherd mixes Greta and Frida share 6 percent of their DNA, making them first or second cousins, according to a recent Embark dog DNA test

Dog dna test cousins
Photo: Courtesy of Upton's Naturals

A dog DNA test revealed a serendipitous surprise for one Chicago family.

According to a release from Upton's Naturals, Nicole Sopko and Dan Staackmann — founders of Upton's Natural, a Chicago-based vegan food company — recently adopted a German shepherd mix named Frida.

Before moving in with Sopko and Staackmann, Frida was picked up as a stray by the Palm Valley Animal Society in Edinburg, Texas, during a winter storm. Her rescuers later transferred the dog to a Chicago shelter that had more space, which is where her new owners fell in love with her.

Shortly after bringing Frida home, Sopko and Staackmann got an Embark dog DNA test to learn more about the rescue pup's background. The family got the same test for their late dog Greta — also a German shepherd mix adopted from a Chicago shelter — before the beloved pet passed away.

Compared with Greta's results stored with Embark, Frida's recent DNA test revealed that the dogs are biologically related. According to the release, Frida and Greta share 6% of their DNA, making them first or second cousins.

Sopko and Staackmann were touched to discover this beautiful coincidence. Greta came into their lives in 2007 when Staackman adopted her from the Heartland Animal Shelter after Chicago Animal Care and Control rescued the canine. Greta quickly became an adored fixture around Upton's Naturals' office.

After Greta died on May 1 of this year at 14 years old, Upton's Naturals, which also runs Liberation Donuts in Chicago, donated 100% of their sales from its best-selling "For Greta" donut to the Heartland Animal Shelter and One Tail at a Time, as a way to give back to shelter animals in memory of Greta.

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Sopko and Staackmann found they still had lots of love to give after saying goodbye to Greta and adopted 8-year-old Frida this summer from One Tail at a Time.

"Like most people who share their lives with an animal, we were devastated by the loss of our dog, Greta. When we found Frida, we knew that she was meant to be in our family, but we had no idea that she was also Greta's biological family. I don't know what the chances are of that happening, but it confirmed for us that some things are just meant to be," Sopko shared in a statement.

Upton's Naturals will be launching a "Cousin Frida" donut at Liberation Donuts to celebrate their newest family member. For the month of August, Frida's family is donating sales from its Total Liberation Donut to One Tail at a Time to support the rescue's Pet Mutual Aid program and as a thank you for bringing Greta's cousin into their lives.

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