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Tag: celebrity

Barbra Streisand has cloned her dog twice

streisandleashes1

Having literally written the book on the first customers of dog cloning, and having tried to keep you posted since then on developments in that morbid and exploitative business, I must report here on one of its newest customers.

Barbra Streisand.

In a far-ranging interview with Variety, the singer and show business legend revealed that her dogs Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett are both clones of her original Coton du Tulear, Samantha.

Samantha, who commonly accompanied Streisand to concerts and public appearances, and who had her own Instagram fans, died last fall at the age of 14.

In the Variety article, Streisand offered few specifics on how she made the decision to clone, or on the process itself, but either Samantha’s corpse, or cell samples from it, were sent to South Korea where they were cloned in a private lab operated by a once-disgraced scientist — the same one who was involved in the world’s first canine cloning.

Her two new pups were cloned at Sooam Biotech, using cells extracted from Samantha’s mouth and stomach.

In the process, the donor cells are merged with egg cells extracted from other dogs, zapped with an electrical current to spur splitting, then implanted in more dogs who serve as surrogates, carrying the embryos to pregnancy.

Often surplus clones result — those that don’t have the exact same markings. Through cloning’s development, death and deformities resulted as well. Animal welfare groups frown on the practice, because of the intrusive procedures the other dogs go through, and because it is generally quite easy to simply adopt a dog that looks like the one you just lost.

Streisand, from what I’ve read about her, seems to fit the common mold of dog cloning’s earliest customers — wealthy eccentrics unwilling to accept nature taking something away from them, who feel they have every right to get it back, no matter how much pain and suffering other dogs might go through for that to be achieved.

They weren’t all wealthy — including the very first customer — but they all were controlling sorts who often didn’t even recognize the utter selfishness of what they were doing.

They were also, early on, misled by the dog cloning companies that formed after the successful cloning of Snuppy in South Korea in 2005. Not only would the clone be an exact physical replica, but it would have the same endearing traits and personality of the original, they were told by the emerging dog cloning companies.

That part was bunk, and the companies later toned down their claims. As the process became more efficient, they dropped their prices too, from $150,000, to under $100,000, with some companies now offering a price as low as $25,000.

In the Variety article, Streisand’s two clones were mentioned as an aside, much like her husband, actor James Brolin, often is.

Along with her husband of 20 years, James Brolin, there’s no one she enjoys sharing her residence with more than her three Coton de Tulear dogs. Perhaps her biggest reveal: Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett were cloned from cells taken from the mouth and stomach of her beloved 14-year-old dog Samantha, who died in 2017. Miss Fanny is a distant cousin.

“They have different personalities,” Streisand says. “I’m waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have her brown eyes and her seriousness.”

Streisand, the article said, even suggested a cutline for the magazine to use with the photo they took of her and her dogs — Send in the Clones.

Streisand said that when the clones first arrived, she dressed one in red and one in lavender, so she could tell them apart. That’s what led to their names — Miss Scarlett and Miss Violet.

I don’t suspect Streisand looks at her new clones and sees in them the reincarnated soul of her original dog, as some early customers did.

I do suspect that original dog created memories she wanted to hold on to, at any cost.

Like the song she once sang, “The Way We Were,” asked:

Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?

The answer is — if you have more money than you know what to do with, if you have little regard for animals other than your own, if you have a selfish streak and an ability to delude yourself — yes!

(Photo: Streisand holding Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett, along with Miss Fanny (from left), who is distantly related and given to Streisand while was waiting for the clones; by Russell James / Variety)

Remembering Carrie Fisher

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I generally dislike celebrities, often for no other reason than they are a celebrity.

Carrie Fisher was an exception — and an exceptional one.

Maybe it was her well-known compassion for dogs. Maybe it was her outspokenness and wry wit, or her droopy-tongued therapy dog, Gary, or the fact that she was batshit crazy.

(Batshit crazy isn’t a term you usually find in a remembrance, but somehow I don’t think she would mind.)

Fisher, who starred as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, died on Tuesday after a heart attack. She was 60.

Gary, the French bulldog, was at her side in the hospital during her last days.

His (fan-written) Twitter page contained the following post yesterday:

gary“Saddest tweets to tweet. Mommy is gone. I love you.”

Gary, a therapy dog who helped Fisher cope with bipolar disorder, accompanied her just about everywhere in her later years. She brought the pet along on interviews, and he became something of a celebrity in his own right.

TMZ reports that Gary, now 4, will be cared for by Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd.

Gary also accompanied Fisher to what was her final appearance in behalf of a dog-related cause — a protest against China’s dog meat festival.

In June, Fisher and Gary joined a protest against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival outside the Chinese embassy in London, at which a petition signed by more than 11 million people was presented, demanding a ban on the annual event.

“There is so much animal suffering in the world, and much of it you feel helpless to end, but stopping the Yulin dog meat festival and ending all that suffering is easy,” Fisher said.

“All the Chinese authorities need to do is declare it shut down, and the killing stops … These poor dogs need us to fight for them. Every single one of them is as precious as my dear Gary.”

In 2013, when Gary was one year old, Fisher told the Herald Tribune, “Gary is like my heart. Gary is very devoted to me, and that calms me down. He’s anxious when he’s away from me.”

Clearly, the reverse was also true.

Fisher, who was the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and the actress Debbie Reynolds, was an actor, author and screenwriter, and was outspoken about animal welfare, mental health issues and pretty much anything else.

“I think in my mouth, so I don’t lie,” she said in one interview. Unlike most celebrities, she didn’t hide behind a glittery facade. She let the public see the real her — warts, troubles, wrinkles (when they arrived) and all

In her book, Wishful Drinking, she wrote that she wanted her obituary to report that “I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra” — a scenario inspired by director George Lucas telling her people didn’t wear underwear in space, for it would strangle them.

In interviews, she generally laid herself bare, held nothing back and spoke her mind in a manner both fearless and funny.

Here she is on a recent Good Morning America segment, with Gary of course:

Sandra Bullock sure knows how to pick ’em

bullockWe’re not much for celebrity worship — believing as we do that dogs are far more worthy of such adoration — but we do from time to time, on slow news days, check to see the latest movie star gossip, especially when it involves dogs.

So we were chagrined to learn that the lovely and talented Academy-Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock, who divorced her philandering husband Jesse James in 2010, has now taken up with what we think may be another loser.

We base that theory on one act alone — but one that may speak volumes.

In 2012, Radar Online reports, Bryan Randall, who Bullock has been seeing for about two months, smeared dog feces over a neighbor’s door.

Sane, even-tempered, non-bullies don’t engage in that kind of behavior.

Randall reportedly had become irate with a neighbor for allowing his dog to poop in front of his building.

That neighbor, John Stacer, said that shortly after his dog did his business, Randall approached him.

“He was videotaping me and said, ‘pick up your dog’s shit, asshole.’”

Stacer had no desire to argue or tangle with the hunky model and photographer.

randall“He is a big guy and I was scared to go any closer so I called my dog back toward me and took him upstairs.”

Stacer said he planned to go back outside later and clean up the mess, but before he got a chance his girlfriend came home and noticed dog feces spread on the door.

He cleaned up the mess in his doorway, and his girlfriend sent Randall a message telling him such behavior was unacceptable.

Randall responded with a message telling her “10 days from now this will play out differently … He will see another side as soon as my kid is out of state.”

Stacer sought and was granted a temporary restraining order against Randall.

Radar Online says it “obtained disturbing court documents” describing the whole incident. (It is good to know they have Sandra’s best interests at heart.)

Bullock, while she may have a preference for bad boys, is known as quite the dog lover, and has adopted some special need pets, including a three-legged dog, and a two-legged one.

Paris Hilton’s Tinkerbell passes away

Paris Hilton at the America in New York City, New York (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)The tiny Chihuahua who, even if she wasn’t the first miniature dog to be toted in a handbag, came to personify the trend, has died.

Paris Hilton announced the death of Tinkerbell, 14, yesterday.

“My heart is broken,” Hilton wrote in an Instagram post. “I am so sad & devastated. After 14 amazing years together my baby Tinkerbell has passed away of old age.”

“I feel like I’ve lost a member of my family,” she added.

“She was such a special & incredible soul. We went through so much together. I can’t believe she’s gone,” Hilton wrote. “I will miss her & think about her for the rest of my life. I love you Tinky, you are a Legend & will never be forgotten.”

PEOPLE magazine described Tinkerbell as Hilton’s “most constant companion.”

Hilton, inspired after seeing the Chihuahua in the movie “Legally Blonde,” purchased Tinkerbell — her first dog — from an online breeding company in 2002, TMZ reported.

Often nestled safely inside the celebrity’s handbag, she led a spoiled life, but one with its share of drama.

In 2004, Tinkerbell went missing after burglars hit Hilton’s home. The heiress offered a $5,000 reward, and six days later Tinkerbell mysteriously reappeared. Hilton never offered any details of how she got the dog back.

That same year, Tinkerbell was also the subject of a satirical book, “Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries: My Life Tailing Paris Hilton.”

In Tinkerbell’s later years, she would have plenty of company. Hilton now owns nearly two dozen other dogs, TMZ reported.

Hilton attributed the dog’s death to old age. PEOPLE magazine estimated Tinkerbell to be 98 in human years; TMZ reported — more accurately — that Tinkerbell was about 72 in human years.

Jiff: The fastest dog on two legs

A four-year-old Pomeranian named Jiff has been named the fastest dog on two legs.

He has four of them, but he only needs two — front or rear — to propel himself so speedily and over such great distances that he’ll be honored for two records in the 2015 Guinness World Record book. The 60th anniversary edition is coming out September 10.

jiffNot that Jiff wasn’t already pretty famous.

Jiff has appeared in several television ads and was featured in “Dark Horse,” a music video by singer Katy Perry. His Facebook page has more than 1.3 million “likes.

Originally from Grayslake, Illinois, Jiff recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, according to his owners, who prefer to remain anonymous.

“When Jiff first walked into our offices, we weren’t even sure he was real,” Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday said. “He looks like a living, breathing cuddly toy.”

(Photo: from Jiff’s Facebook page)

Kinky Friedman’s dogs are … well, kinky

Three years ago, author and musician Kinky Friedman had six dogs — not counting the 50 or so awaiting homes at his Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch.

Today, he’s down to two — Chumley and Brownie, who, though brothers, spend an inordinate amount of time making out.

The dogs who have passed, though, aren’t far away. Just outside Kinky’s front door, a couple of decades worth of pets are buried in a colorful, well-tended garden, including his beloved Mr. Magoo, whose gravesite is topped with all of “Goo’s” favorite stuffed toys.

On our Monday visit to Utopia Ranch, we got to meet and spend some time with the author of  “Roadkill,” “God Bless John Wayne,” “The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic,” and more than 25 other books — including his most recent, “Kinky’s Celebrity Pet Files.”

You might think all that writing wouldn’t leave him time for anything else, but Kinky, from appearances, likes to stay busy. He ran for governor of Texas in 2006, capturing about 12 percent of the vote, writes a column for Texas Monthly, and, with help from friends, funds Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. Next month, Kinky, along with two members of his band, the Texas Jewboys, start a west coast tour.

In between performing tunes like “Ride ‘Em Jewboy” ” and “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,”  Kinky, 65, often referred to as the “Mark Twain of Texas,” will also be selling his wares at the concerts, including two of his more recent books, “Heroes of a Texas Childhood” and “What Would Kinky Do?” He’ll be hawking his cigars, as well.

Kinky, who was an infant when his family moved from Chicago to Texas to start a summer camp for Jewish children, spoils his dogs, in life and death — from grilling them steaks to interring them in the blooming shrine he has created at his front porch, the centerpiece of which is the grave of Magoo, who died at age 14

He has a long history of rescuing pets, starting in New York City in 1979, when he found a kitten a shoe box while walking through Chinatown. He took it home and named it Cuddles.

In the summer of 1996, he found another cat, Lucky, while driving from his parents’ ranch to Medina. The cat, found in the middle of the road, had been shot. He took the cat to a veterinarian, paid for the surgeries and amputation of an injured leg, then took Lucky home.

Because he traveled frequently, Friedman turned to friend Nancy Parker-Simons to babysit his pets, and that arrangement evolved into Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. In 1998, the rescue operation started on Parker-Simon’s seven acres in the town of Utopia. Three years later, it moved to the Friedman ranch.

In fact, it was another rescue that led to Friedman’s highly popular series of detective novels. In the mid-1980s, Kinky rescued a woman being robbed at a midtown Manhattan ATM. Based on the experience, he created the character Kinky Friedman the detective. After that, he branched out into children’s books, memoirs, historical reflections and, most lately, “Kinky’s Celebrity Pet Files.”

In it, Friedman recounts the connections many of his celebrity friends have and had with their pets — how Beach Boy Brian Wilson, on the “Pet Sounds” album, closed one song with the barking of his two dogs, Banana and Louis; how Dr. John’s dog, Lucy, once ate menthol-flavored condoms; about Fats Domino’s bichon Frise, Winnie the Pooh, who perished in Hurricane Katrina; Billie Holliday’s boxer, Mister, who would sit backstage while his master sang;  Tom Waits, who had his pet white rat stuffed upon its demise; and Jim Nabors who on the eve of every Fourth of July would fly his four Staffordshire Terriers from Honolulu to Maui, where they wouldn’t be bothered by fireworks.

He deals with his own pets as well in the book, from their daily hijinks to their bedtime rituals:

Then we all go back to bed and dream of fields full of slow-moving rabbits and mice and cowboys and Indians and imaginary childhood friends and tail fins on Cadillacs and girls in the summertime and everything else that time has taken away.

“It shows the animals in the lives of great and famous people, and the importance they attach to their pet,” Kinky said.

Friedman gave me two of his books, and autographed them for me, but he didn’t have any of his newest. So after hanging out with him for an hour or so — a period in which his cigar rarely left his mouth — I drove up to Kerrville to buy a copy at Wolfmueller’s, a new and used bookstore worth checking out if you ever pass through.

Kinky was supposed to be going there, but wasn’t going to be able to make it.

“Tell them I’m not coming today,” he told me.

I bought the book, passed on the message, ate some Mexican food and headed back to Bandera, where my own dog was spending the day in the air conditioned offices of the weekly newspaper, the Bandera Courier, the editor of which has been supplying me with dogsitting, story ideas and Texas-sized hospitality.

But that’s another story.

(To read all of the installments of “Dog’s Country,” click here.

More trouble for Floyd, J-Lo’s former dog

floydJennifer Lopez’ ex-dog — well, he’s still a dog, just not her’s — is the subject of another lawsuit, allegedly the fifth biting incident in which the German shepherd has been involved.

Floyd, a trained guard dog who once belonged to Lopez and Marc Anthony, now belongs to “West Wing” actress NiCole Robinson and husband Craig Snyder.

Mary Bahl, who worked for the dog’s current owners, alleges the trained guard dog/family pet chomped on her breast and hand outside the couple’s upper East Side home last June. Bahl’s claims surfaced five weeks after the couple’s babysitter sued, saying Floyd bit her in January.

“Plaintiff was severely traumatized by the attack, and remains in fear of all large dogs,” the New York Daily News quotes the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, as saying.

The dog, whose full name is Floyd vom Meierhoff, was owned by Lopez and Anthony from Nov. 2005 to March 2007,

Floyd, who underwent military-style training in Germany, has also been accused of attacking a flight attendant, a housekeeper and Anthony’s personal assistant.

The latest suit says Bahl suffered “injury in body and mind” and major medical bills.