Saturday, March 17, 2018

Is Dog Cloning an Option We Should Even Have?

Barbra Streisand opened up about her decision on dog cloning when her beloved pet passed away: she now has two dogs cloned from her last one.

Dog cloning is a technology that has been around for a few years now, and the price has come down from about $100,000 to $50,000. Even so, for most of us, that’s a price tag that would quickly remove the option for our households.

But for the rich, people for whom writing a check for five-digits isn’t an issue, getting a “copy” of a dog that took a piece of your heart with them when they departed the earth might just seem like a great way to ease the suffering.

In an interview with Variety, Streisand said that when her curly-haired Coton du Tulear dog Samantha died last year, the cloning process made losing her easier because she could “keep some part of her alive.”

If you’ve never had a dog or cat that you’ve been particularly close to, I’m sure you’ll never understand people’s obsession to keep their dear four-legged friends in their lives for as long as they can.

On the other hand, some of us who have had that special bond can’t quite wrap our brains around wanting to clone one we’ve loved and lost.

In my case, I’ve had four Rough Collies — the classic “Lassie” dog. My current one is four-and-a-half years old and is healthy. I hope he’ll live at least 11 more years or so. He’s an adult dog, of course, but he has the personality of a puppy: sweet, affectionate, and playful. He’s very loyal and will defend me if he senses trouble. But for the most part, he’s content to snuggle whenever possible.

My last Rough Collie, on the other hand, barely seemed to have a puppy stage. He was the “old soul” of my Collies. He was very mature, very gentleman-like, and seemed to feel a great responsibility to keep everything in order. He grew up on a farm and I brought him home when he was 14 weeks old, a bit later than is often the case, so the folks who raised him spent that much more time with him. Because he grew up on a farm, he also had time to learn a tiny bit about herding, so when I’d take him to the dog park, he’d always herd all of the dogs running in the pack back towards the middle of the yard. He was very good at it.

My second Collie was a beautiful dog with more of a mahogany than sable as his second color. He had been abandoned at about a year old. We have good reason to believe that his previous owners were in the military, based on where he was dropped off, and they probably got marching orders that prevented them from taking the dog with them. He was well treated and trained. He knew how to sit and shake, although he shook left-pawed instead of right-pawed. He was a happy dog who liked to strut around the yard, but there was something mysterious about him: as much as he loved me, there was something there, almost that he’d been hurt so much by that abandonment that he was afraid to let himself get attached again. He was a sweet boy, but stoic.

The first Collie I ever had was the puppy my folks brought home the Christmas after I celebrated my first birthday. She and I grew up together. And she treated me like I was her puppy. She, like Collie #3, had grown up on a farm, and her mother was a true working dog who could herd sheep on the property. She herded me away, like a real-life Lassie, from anything that didn’t meet her strict approval. As we both got older, she was a companion as well as protector. But it wasn’t until I was about eight years old that she had only then begun to play “rough” with me; prior to that, she would always treat me like I was too fragile for anything too rough.

I say all of that to explain that with four dogs of the exact same breed, I’ve had four dogs from different areas of the gene pool and four dogs with their distinct personalities.

It was hard to say goodbye to my first three Collies. It will be harder to say goodbye to my current one because besides his own individuality, he also reminds me in some ways of the first one.

But just like the people we meet in our lives, our dogs have their own unique personalities. That’s why it seems like it’d be weird to have a dog cloned from another.

There’s no guarantee, science tells us, that cloned dogs will act like the original. Even Streisand says the two dogs she’s cloned from her Samantha have “different personalities.” 

The symbolic aspect of keeping a deceased animal alive by carrying on the genes may carry some sentimental value, but for me, I’d constantly be comparing the clone to the original moreso than I would already automatically compare one dog to a previous one if I knew they two weren’t related.

If I resorted to dog cloning, I think I’d be a lot more disappointed when the clone doesn’t “measure up” to the predecessor.

Should dog cloning be allowed? I suppose if you have the money, you’ll find a way.

But it’s not an option I’d consider — even if I had $50,000 lying around collecting dust.

If you could afford it, would you want to clone your pet?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.