With more than 500 canine clones now roaming the world, you wouldn’t think the fact that one has been produced for a pet owner in the UK would make such a big splash.
But it has, and a big splash is just what the cloners had in mind.
To introduce its unique service to Britain, Sooam Biotech, the South Korean laboratory that’s now the only company cloning dogs, borrowed from an earlier chapter in dog cloning’s bizarre history. It held a public contest, awarding a free cloning as the grand prize.
The winner: Rebecca Smith, 29, of London, who learned in late March that a clone of her 12-year-old dachshund Winnie had been born in a Seoul laboratory, BBC reported.
She named the dog Mini Winnie.
The competition saw dog owners submit videos of their dogs and compete for the chance to “immortalize” their pet for free. The bill for dog cloning normally runs around $100,000.
“Sooam Biotech is looking for one person with the most special and inspiring reason for cloning his/her beloved dog,” the company said in announcing the contest.
The contest was similar to one held in the U.S. when dog cloning first hit the market. It was called the “Golden Clone Giveaway,” and the winner was TrakR, a search and rescue dog whose owner said the German shepherd found the last survivor in the rubble of 9/11.
The weird and wacky story of how dog cloning was achieved, how it was marketed, and the first customers to sign up for it can be found in my book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
The UK’s first canine clone — who won’t arrive in the country until after a 6-month quarantine period — was cloned at Sooam Biotech, a laboratory run by Hwang Woo Suk, who was a member of the Seoul National University team that produced the world’s first canine clone, Snuppy, in 2005.
That research began after an earlier effort to clone a dog in the U.S., at Texas A&M University, was unsuccessful.
The Texas A&M research was funded by John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix. After cloning a cat, and assorted farm animals, the Texas A&M efforts to clone a dog were called off, but Sperling’s front man, who had established a company to store the cells of dead and dying dogs (Genetic Savings & Clone), even before dog cloning was achieved, later teamed up Hwang and Sooam to offer an online auction, with the highest bidders receiving clones of their dogs.
Hwang founded his lab after getting fired from Seoul National University when his claim to have produced the world’s first cloned human embryos was deemed fraudulent. He was later convicted of embezzling research funds and illegally buying human eggs, but his 18-month sentence was suspended.
Hwang has more recently has embarked on trying to clone a woolly mammoth from 10,00-year-old remains found frozen in Siberia.
Meanwhile, he’s churning out laboratory-created dogs, more than 500 of which have been born to surrogate mother dogs at his lab and kennel.
To create Mini Winnie, a piece of skin was taken from Winnie and transported to Seoul. Cells from the sample were placed inside an anonymous donor dog’s egg cell and, with a jolt of electricity, they merged.
Then the embryo was implanted inside a surrogate dog that gave birth, via Caesarean, to Winnie on March 30.
“The world would be a better place with more Winnies in it,” Smith, 29, says in a Channel 4 documentary, “The £60,000 Puppy: Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
Smith received the original Winnie as a present on her 18th birthday, and she says the dog helped her overcome “lots of demons,” including an eating disorder. Smith says Mini Winnie looks identical to the original, who is old and arthritic, but still alive.
Hundreds of pet owners have had dogs cloned since the first customer, a California woman who received five copies of her dead pit bull, Booger.
Critics of the process say cloning doesn’t result in the resurrection of an animal, but a laboratory-made twin, whose creation requires the involvement of numerous other dogs, and who might not act like the original at all.
Initially, two South Korean companies were cloning dogs for pet owners (and even more for research purposes), but one of the, RNL Bio, has pulled out of the dog-cloning business.
While the cloning process has grown more efficient, some animal welfare groups say risks are still high.
Dr Katy Taylor, Head of Science at The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said: “Cloning is a very unpredictable and extremely wasteful process … In order to produce just one ‘perfect’ clone, many puppies with the same genes as a loved animal will be born … Some of these puppies will be aborted or will die soon after birth from unpredictable health complications and severe birth defects.”
Defective pups, and the South Korean laboratory’s failure to follow animal welfare protocols, were among the reasons cited by the American company that teamed up with Hwang for pulling out of its dog cloning arrangement.
The documentary, while it mostly follows the judges as they visit with contestants and their dogs, does go some interesting places, including Edinburg, for an interview with Sir Ian Wilmut, cloner of Dolly the sheep. Wilmut doesn’t endorse pet cloning, and says he remains skeptical of it, saying it will lead to lots of disappointed customers who, despite their hopes, won’t get an animal with the same personality as the original.
There’s also an interview with a pet owner, not a contestant, who views dog cloning as a Hitleresque pursuit, and there are several allusions to the fact that some Koreans eat dog meat.
“The £60,000 Puppy: Cloning Man’s Best Friend” was made by the same independent production company that produced “I Cloned My Pet,” several episodes of which appeared on TLC.
“The £60,000 Puppy” is an improvement over those productions, which brushed aside most ethical questions and animal welfare concerns about pet cloning. While the new documentary doesn’t delve too deeply into them either, it does present something more than a one-sided view.
Like the earlier documentaries, it reinforces that most customers of dog cloning are, shall we say, eccentric sorts, and that their attachment to their dogs — as with all of us — is a powerful one.
Perhaps the most telling moment, though, comes as the judges debate — American Idol style — the public relations benefits of each contestant.
After that, the winner is … after a long, long pause … announced.
Cloning, it seems, is no longer some futuristic pipedream. It has become a reality, and apparently an entertainment form.
My view? Cloning is no game show, or at least it shouldn’t be.
(Photos: Top, Mini Winnie / Channel 4; middle, Hwang in his lab / John Woestendiek; bottom; Smith and the original Winnie / Channel 4)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, biotech, book, canine, cells, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, contest, customers, dog cloning, dog cloning book, dog inc., dogs, free cloning, great britain, hwang woo suk, laboratory, marketing, pets, science, seoul, seoul national university, snuppy, sooam, technology, uk
This is a sweet little commercial for Chevrolet — quite reminiscent of one for Subaru — that follows, though in reverse, a young woman’s bond with her dog.
The tagline: Chevrolet, “a best friend for life’s journey.”
We’d hope, for your sake, your car isn’t your best friend.
Cars and dogs do have some things in common — the high cost of keeping them running, the constant feeding, the licensing requirements, and the fact that they are nearly always at our side. And they do both produce some exhaust.
But, otherwise, there’s really no comparison.
The dog loves you unconditionally. The car has air conditioning. Your dog will offer up a soft and furry paw. Your car is a metal hunk that will tell you to put your seat belt on. Your dog has a soul. Your car has a transmission.
Nevertheless, in our ongoing monitoring of the use of dogs in advertising, we’ve noticed automobile companies seem to be trying harder and harder to get you to think of your car as a dog — loyal, dependable, always there.
They’d like you to have that same powerful bond with their brand of automobiles in the hopes that, when you have to put the old Chevrolet down, you’ll go out and get another one of the same breed.
This ad — though it wasn’t the winner — was one of 72 submissions in the Chevrolet Mofilm Short Film Program. The program allows filmmakers from around the world to submit a short movie, with the winner’s ad being aired during the Oscars.
To see some of our other Woof in Advertising posts, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a best friend for life's journey, ads, animals, automobiles, best friend, bond, chevrolet, commercials, contest, dog, dogs, dogs and cars, dogs in advertising, envy, maddie, marketing, media, mofilm, pets, short film program, subaru, woof in advertising
That’s how the American Visionary Art Museum is billing its annual “Pets on Parade” event at 10 a.m. this 4th of July Sunday (with registration starting at 9:30 a.m.).
Participants are invited to dress their pet and compete for trophies that will include Best Costume, Most Patriotic Pet and Most Visionary Pet. Honors will also be given for best pet tricks and owner and pet look-alikes.
Pets of all kinds (on leashes) are welcome and the event is free.
The museum promises plenty of shade and water.
With temperatures in the mid-90s predicted, lightweight costumes — such as this Elvis outfit Frankie wore a few years back – might be a good idea. And, cute as your dog might be in his get-up, removing the costume after the competition and allowing him a dip in the baby pools might also advisable.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 2nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 4th of July, american visionary art museum, animals, art, avam, awards, baltimore, contest, costumes, dog, dogs, events, heat, july 4, museum, pets, pets on parade, trophies, visionary
Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t pass along this news: A Boston terrier named Boomer won the Elvis Pet Look-A-Like contest at the 2010 Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival.
Boomer, who has his own website — boomertheboston.com – came all the way from Springfield, Missouri to compete in the contest.
As you might guess, there’s an even more popular human division, whose sideburned entrants came from as far away as Canada, the Tupelo Daily Journal reported.
The weekend event included a reenactment of Elvis’ mother purchasing him his first guitar at Tupelo Hardware.
Boomer donned an Elvis-style wig, sideburns included, and a rhinestone jumpsuit for the Elvis lookalike pet contest, which followed the Elvis parade and benefitted the Tupelo-Lee County Humane Society.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, birthplace, boomer, boston terrier, contest, dog, dogs, elvis, elvis presley, graceland, impersonators, lookalike, mississippi, ohmidog!, pets, presley, tupelo, tupelo lee humane society
Sadie, a four-year-old Scottish terrier, was named best in show at Westminster, beating out 2,500 entrants at the 134-year-old dog show.
“She’s the total package,” said Elliot Weiss, of Eagle, Idaho, who judged the Best in Show round before a cheering, capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden. “This is the complete dog … That’s what you want a Scottie to look like.”
Sadie went into the competition as a favorite of both oddsmakers and experts, having won both the National Dog Show in suburban Philadelphia in November and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in California in December.
Unlike in recent years, when relatively unknown crowd favorites Uno, a beagle, and Stump, an aging Sussex spaniel, captured top honors, this year’s best in show was no surprise.
On Tuesday, the loudest cheers were for a sleek Doberman Pinscher and a French Bulldog whose mugging won the crowd over, Reuters reported.
The final round of judging was disrupted when two female protesters strode out to the winner’s circle and held up signs, including one reading “Mutts rule,” a reference to the “Dogs rule” ad campaign that has run throughout the competition. The protesters were removed by security.
Terriers are the winningest group in WKC history, having won nearly half the events throughout the club’s history. Sadie also made last year’s Best in Show round. The WKC was her 112th Best in Show and the eighth Westminster Kennel Club victory for a Scottie.
This year’s competition saw 2,500 entrants representing 173 breeds and varieties. Other breeds vying for the big prize on Tuesday were a toy Poodle, a Puli, a Whippet and a Brittany.
Handler Gabriel Rangel said Sadie was “a very happy dog. She always enjoys herself. Nobody ever tells her ‘no.’
Posted by John Woestendiek February 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 134th, 2010, animals, best in show, breeds, competition, contest, disrupted, dog, dogs, favorite, judges, judging, new york, pets, protest, sadie, scottie, scottish terrier, show, top dog, westminster, wins
Less than three hours after posting our contest, we’ve already got all five winners.
The winners will be getting a “Fido Friendly Holiday Feast” from K-9 Kraving, makers of the only USDA-certified, natural, vitamin enriched raw diet dog food.
The Fido Friendly Holiday Feast is a treat bag stuffed with the festive flavors of the holiday season – an 8 oz. bag of turkey and cranberry canine cookies, a sweet potato canine cookie, a duck and pumpkin canine cookie, and a K-9 Kraving flying disc thrown in so you and your dog can work off your meal.
Thanks to all that entered, and to K-9 Kraving for providing the prizes. Feel free to continue to play, but be advised all the prizes have been awarded.
Here are the correct answers.
2. Any of these
3. Any of these
7. Norah Jones
9. Owen Wilson
Posted by John Woestendiek December 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: answers, contest, cranberry, dog treats, duck, feast, fido friendly, holiday, k-9 kraving, ohmidog!, pumpkin, raw diet dog food, sweet potato, treats, turkey, winners
(UPDATE: All five winners have been named.)
Given that our friends at K-9 Kraving have offered to serve up the prizes, we’ve put together another ohmidog! contest, designed to test your doggie news knowledge and sneakily take you to places on our website you might not have been before.
The first five readers who answer all ten questions correctly, in the form of comments attached to this entry, will win a K-9 Kraving “Fido Friendly Holiday Feast” from the makers of the only USDA-certified, natural, vitamin enriched raw diet dog food.
The Fido Friendly Holiday Feast is designed to allow dogs to enjoy the festive flavors of the holiday season without worrying about the unsavory after-effects of eating human table scraps, and it includes an 8 oz. bag of turkey and cranberry canine cookies, a sweet potato canine cookie, a duck and pumpkin canine cookie, a K-9 Kraving flying disc and brochure.
For a couple of the answers, I’ve provided links to help you get started. For the rest, you’ll have to navigate on your own. Hint: Use our search bar. Note: on some browsers, due to a quirk, you have to scroll waaaaay down the page to get the search results. We’re working on it.
Here’s the quiz:
1. What is the state dog of Louisiana?
2. Name one book that is mentioned on our “Good Dog Reads” page. (Clue: Check the tabs at the top of our rightside rail.)
3. Name one movie available in our Amazon “Dogs in the Movies” collection. (Clue: Check lower down on the rightside rail.)
4. Who is Newt’s Nook named after?
5. What is the name of the chocolate Labrador who was so rudely ousted from his gas station job in Florida recently?
6. What two cities still have giant statues of Nipper — the RCA Victor mascot — sitting atop buildings?
7. What female singer sings the praises of dogs as companions (over men) in a song called “Man of the Hour” on her recently released album?
8. Name three of the six things that K-9 Kraving Raw Diet Dog Food does not contain. (Hint: Find their advertisement on our left side rail, click on it, and read the second paragraph of their home page).
9. Who will be the voice of “Marmaduke” in the upcoming 20th Century Fox movie based on the comic strip?
10. If two trains leave the station at exactly the same time, one headed east, one headed west, both traveling at 90 miles per hour, and you were on one of them, and it had Internet, what dog website would you be most likely to read? (Hint: It starts with an “o“)
(Be sure and include your email address along with your answers. If you’re one of the five winners — the first five who submit comments correctly answering all 10 questions — we’ll contact you for shipping information. Prizes and shipping courtesy of K9 Kraving. Contest open only to residents of the (sorry Alaska and Hawaii) continental U.S. Offer void where prohibited, whatever that means. Employees of ohmidog! and their families and K-9 Kraving, and their families, are not eligible.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: christmas, contest, dog, dog food, dog treats, dogs, free, healthy, holiday, k9 kraving, national, ohmidog!, prize, quiz, snacks, treats, u.s., win
A Colorado Chihuahua has won the All American Pet Company’s “Cutest Dog Competition,” and his owner says the $1 million in prize money will all be donated to the Dumb Friends Leage and the Max Fund Animal Shelter.
Dr. Papidies, owned by Dr. Leslie Capin, of Parker, beat out 60,000 other dogs for the title, which was awarded based on Internet voting.
Papidies was rescued from a puppy mill. He suffers from Addison’s disease and almost died three years ago, according to Dr. Capin. He recovered, and went on to serve as mascot for Capin’s doctor’s office, where people began referring to him as Dr. Papidies.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 1st, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: $1 million, all american pet company, animal shelter, animals, chihuahua, colorado, competition, contest, cutest, cutest dog, dog, dr. papidies, dumb friends league, leslie capin, max fund, million dollars, parker, pets, prize
You may have noticed that we’re not real big on doggie Halloween costumes this year. We have some issues with the whole idea of costuming pooches — and encouraging the practice — that we are still working through.
That said, here’s one I just can’t pass up. Having eschewed — yes, eschewed — the costume contest at BARCStoberfest, I missed this entry (but spotted him on the Baltimore Sun’s “Unleashed” blog today). It’s Tito, a local Chihuahua, dressed as the ubiquitous pink and yellow Big Boyz Bail Bonds pen.
If you’re not from Baltimore, you might not be familiar with the company, or the fact that its pens — in a true stroke of marketing genius — are everywhere.
Big Boyz Bail Bonds orders more than 500,000 pens a year and provides them for free to bars, restaurants and shops all over town, and all over Maryland.
Steve Martin wrote a song for his dog Wally.
You can download it for free here.
Now he wants a music video made of it. But being a busy, much-in-demand superstar, he doesn’t have time to do one himself.
“That’s where you come in,” he says. Steve Martin is inviting the public to create a music video for his song, “Wally on the Run.”
The best video — as chosen by him — wins $1,000. The only requirement is that the video have a dog, or lots of dogs, in it.
The deadline is Dec. 1. All the official terms and conditions can be found here.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 18th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: banjo, contest, daily motion, dailymotion, dog, free download, martin's dog, music, one thousand dollars, song, steve martin, video, wally, wally on the run