Case of the Mystery Greyhound

In 1998, Dr. Halverson was called on by Ireland to help settle a six-year long dispute between a working class greyhound racing enthusiast, the Irish Coursing Club, and the Club’s affiliated laboratory.




Cheating Bloodlines?

It all began with a racing Greyhound litter registration denial by the Irish Coursing Club.  The club’s lab declaring that the parentage of a single puppy (named Charlie) in  Tom O’Connor’s litter was not correct. Accused of cheating, Tom and his family were promptly shunned by the greyhound racing and local community. Without Club registration, his greyhounds were not allowed to race.

After six years, Tom enlisted the help of a prominent figure in the Irish coursing world to question the local lab’s findings. They sent off DNA samples to the top laboratories around the world for retesting. One of those samples came to Dr. Halverson in the United States, and others went to the Netherlands and Australia.

After testing the samples, all three labs concluded that Charlie’s parentage was in fact correct. As the leading international animal DNA scientist, Dr. Halverson was brought to Ireland to testify in front of the Irish Coursing Club officials and explain how it was possible that the results conflicted with those of the Irish lab.

Finally vindicated, Tom was awarded more than $100,000 in damages.

And in one of Ireland’s best traditions, A pub song was written about the whole ordeal, and here are the lyrics. Who would have thought that DNA testing would go down in cultural history!

Charlie’s Song

I come from the Kingdom
Of Kerry so sweet
I’m a fine coursing greyhound
But I couldn’t compete
No Stake could I win
No cup could I gain
All due to my problems
In getting a name.

In the year ’92
On the fifteenth of May
Near the mouth of the Shannon
I first saw the day
My mother was a star
With a good pedigree
And I was called Charlie
Also known as Dog B

Tom and Joe stayed there watching
All day and all night
‘Til they counted eleven
What a beautiful sight
Such a fine nest of puppies
You never did see
As my seven brothers
Three sisters and me

But we soon heard the news
That we weren’t all legit
It seems that our mammy
Played around quite a bit
She had more than one lover
As stars often do
Which was our daddy
No one really knew

Was it Sirron from Cork
Who was the best at Clonmel?
Or was it the Thriller?
They just couldn’t tell
So they pricked us with needles
And drew out our blood
And sent it for testing
To find the right stud

At first they were doubtful
And then they weren’t sure
And then they announced
That my blood was impure
My profile defective
My DNA wrong
With my brothers and sisters
I did not belong

The rest of the litter
At last they agreed
To put in the stud book
With the best of our breed
With Sirron as Sire
And Star Razor as Dam
But I was excluded
A dog with no name

The officials declared that
The cause of the hitch
Was that I’d been borrowed
From some other bitch
To find my true mother
They searched all around
With their needles and test-tubes
But she couldn’t be found

Then Tom said to Joe
This just isn’t right
Both of us watched him
Being born on that night
Now gossip and rumors
Are spreading afar
But we know his mother
Is our famous Star

So they pricked me again
And more blood I did give
I thought my poor skin had
More holes than a sieve
To Holland and Sweden
They sent it away
And more to Australia
And the U.S. of A.

The results all came back
From far over the sea
Confirming my parents
My true ancestry
But those Stud Book Officials
Still kept to their claim
That my breeding was bogus
A cause of great shame

In Clonmel headquarters
An inquiry was held
Many expert were gathered
The tops in their field
Both scientists and lawyers
Could earn a big fee
By giving their judgement
On my family tree

The American scientist
Took to the floor
She said “I have tested
These same dogs before
But no names were given
No proper I.D.
The samples were labeled
Dogs A, B and C.

From the coursing club’s tester
In Dublin they came
Full six months ago
The results were the same
But you kept it a secret
The case to prolong
For you never intended
To admit you were wrong

You can blame our computer
For catching you out
Three perfect matches
Without any doubt
Dog C was the sire
And Dog A was the dam
And Dog B was Charlie
Their own true born son”.

So my registration
Was six years delayed
But now it’s all settled
And the bills have been paid
I’ve got my own card
And my name’s in the book
Young Patrick’s my owner
You’ll see if you look

Now I’m too old for coursing
I’m just a big pet
I’ll not win a duffer
Nor land a good bet
But I’m sure you’ll remember
The cause of my fame
It cost eighty thousand
Just to give me a name

The lesson I hoped you’ve
All learned from my song
Is fight when you’re right
And admit when you’re wrong
And if you’re celebrating
You can have one on me
Now I’m Saleen Charlie
Once known as Dog B.