Tag: dog cloning
It’s a cute and cuddly little idea.
So why does it give me horror-show-like chills?
I was thumbing through the latest issue of The Bark magazine – print version — when I came to a page devoted to spotlighting new products, including “Cuddle Clones, one of a kind plush animals made to look just like your dog! Capture the essence of your dog in this adorable product…”
Having written a book on dog cloning — the kind that takes place in a laboratory, with pet owners paying $100,000 or more to get genetic duplicates of their dogs – Cuddle Clones struck me as far less expensive, less intrusive and much more innocent way to have your pet re-created. Yet the concept was still mildly troubling. Leave it to me to find the ominous in something as harmless as a plush toy.
I think, as with real cloning, there may be — in regards to what it says about the essence of dog, and the essence of us.
For starters, you’re not going to recapture the essence of your dog in a stuffed animal, or by stuffing him, or by cloning him.
I’d even go so far to say that, even the most expert of breeders, even if they do manage to ensure many of the same traits are passed from one generation to the next, can’t recapture “essence” — a fuzzy term that, in this case, may be most synonymous with “personality” or ”soul.”
One can breed for looks and traits, but the essence of your dog — what makes him him — is uncapturable. Part of the reason for that, I think, is that what makes him him is all that he has experienced, including, and perhaps in largest part, you.
With cloning — real cloning — I arrived at the point where I viewed it as a selfish pursuit, most popular among wealthy and stubborn people who refuse to to accept that the rules of nature apply to them and their dogs. And I wondered whether, as much as having a dog re-created from a single cell might seem an homage to the original, it’s really an insult, like telling your dog, “You’re instantly replaceable; I can quite easily, if I pay enough, have another you fashioned in a laboratory.”
In reality, the clone, while a living, breathing genetic duplicate, is not the original dog. Though some customers believe otherwise, the original dog’s soul does not occupy it anymore than it would a freeze-dried version of his corpse — another alternative for those who insist on keeping a physical, though unmoving, version of their dog around the house.
Cuddle Clones, being toys, are far less creepy — and if it weren’t for the name I’d probably have no problem with the product. A plush toy that roughly replicates your living or dead pet is not all that nefarious. And the plush toy company, unlike the real cloning companies, hasn’t directed its marketing strictly at bereaved, or soon-to-be-bereaved pet owners.
That does come up, however, in the “Top 10″ reasons the company gives for buying a Cuddle Clone. (Expect to pay $300, or, for a life-sized version, as much as $850, depending on weight.)
Those reasons, according to the Cuddle Clones website, include:
”Your pet is so cute or unique looking that you must clone him or her immediately.”
“Your pet has passed away and you miss hugging him or her.”
“Your daughter can’t bear to leave her best friend behind when she leaves for college or the military.”
“You lost the pet custody battle in a breakup.”
“You’ve wanted to scientifically clone your pet for some time now but can’t quite afford the $50,000 price tag.”
“Cuddle Clones can go places real pets can’t go (work, vacation, the grocery store, nursing home).”
Cuddle Clones aren’t going to wag their tails (at least not yet), or greet you at the front door. For that you’d require a real clone, though we’d advise against it, even if you do have more money than you know what to do with.
Those are manufactured in South Korea, and the price has dropped from the $150,000 the earliest customers were charged to around $100,000.
(How dog cloning came to be, how it was marketed, and the experiences of the first pet owning customers are detailed in my book, “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commerical Dog Cloning Industry.”)
Only one South Korean lab is still offering cloning to pet owners, and it’s working on broadening its customer base — mostly American — by holding a contest in England that will reward a discounted cloning to the person who has the most “special and inspiring” reason for cloning their dog. Contestants are invited to submit essays, photos and videos, and the winner will get a 70 percent discount on the $100,000 price.
It’s sponsored by Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, which is headed by Hwang Woo Suk, the former Seoul National University veterinarian who headed the team that produced the world’s first cloned dog, Snuppy. Hwang also claimed to have cloned a line of human embryos, but he was fired after those claims turned out to be fraudulent.
After starting his own lab, Hwang teamed up with an American company that held an online auction for six dog clonings and an essay contest in which a free cloning was awarded to a man who said his former police dog found the last survivor of 9-11.
As dog cloning hit the marketplace — actually doing so before dog had even been cloned — some of those who would become the first recipients of clones were chosen at least in part because of their heartwarming stories, which served to put a warmer, fuzzier face on the cold science of cloning.
Small stuffed dogs, all identical, were handed out as a promotional tool by one of the labs. Customers shared their stories, sometimes in exchange for a discount, and marveled at how much their clones resembled the originals. Then there were the best ambassadors of all — the puppies. Whatever fears and concerns surrounded cloning — from animal welfare issues, to where it will all lead, to the utter lack of government regulation, especially in South Korea — images of nursing and frolicking puppies had a way of pushing them aside.
Cuddle Clones — even just the marriage of those two words — could similarly, if unintentionally, serve to make real cloning more palatable to a public that may not know that dog cloning isn’t cute at all.
It involves the use of numerous dogs for egg harvesting. After the cells of the donor dog are merged with those and — with help from an electric jolt – begin dividing, more dogs yet are needed to serve as surrogates. More than 1,000 egg cells were harvested to clone the first dog. While the process has grown far more efficient, multiple attempts are still required to ensure an exact lookalike is born — into a world where dogs are routinely put down because of overpopulation.
The American company selling clonings — all carried out by Sooam – later shut down for reasons that included concerns about whether proper animal welfare protocols were being followed in the South Korean labs. RNL Bio, the company that cloned the first dog for a customer, has stepped away from dog cloning, citing negative public opinion as one factor.
But canine clones are still being churned out at Sooam, and the price — once $150,000 a shot — is continuing to drop, meaning more people will be able to afford a laboratory-produced replica of their dog.
For those who can’t, there are Cuddle Clones – soft and huggable plushies, filled with synthetic fabrics, that seem to send the message that clones are adorable.
And clones may be just that – both the real ones and the stuffed ones.
Dog cloning, though, when it comes to the process, is not so pretty, not so heartwarming, and not so cuddly.
You might even say – though it would be too late — that it’s nothing to toy with.
(Photos: Top three photos courtesy of Cuddle Clones, bottom two photos, of dogs being cloned at Sooam, by John Woestendiek)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 23rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adorable, animals, book, books, cloned, clones, cloning, cuddle clones, custom, dog, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, huggable, lookalike, pets, plush, replicas, resemble, sooam, sooam biotech research foundation, south korea, stuffed, toys
Six readers correctly guessed the name of the town to which Ace and I have moved.
And while I promised an autographed copy of my book to the one who guessed first, I’ve decided all six should get “DOG, INC.,” which exposes the stranger-than-truth story behind man’s cloning of dog.
The decision comes from my heart, with additional input from my back.
Book writing is a little like dog cloning that way — both are often exercises in selfishness that carry the risk of ending up with a surplus of unwanted editions.
I’ve sent all the winners emails to get their mailing addresses, but in case you missed them and see this, get in touch with me Cristina, Barbara Thompson, A.C., Maryjane Warren, and Bill Garrett.
You, too, Southern Fried Pugs — and since you’re going to sell them to raise money for your rescue, we’ll chip in three copies.
We’ll also be sending one along — assuming we get an address — to Vida, a frequent ohmidog! commenter who said she couldn’t bring herself to Google the answer because she felt that would be cheating.
That kind of honesty must be rewarded.
Another movie about a supernatural dog has been released — this time, a vampire dog – but apparently it has skipped theaters and gone straight to DVD.
From the trailer, you can maybe see why.
Given that movies with dogs that talk, and movies that portray dogs as monsters (even lovable ones) are not among our favorite genres, you may ask why even post about “Vampire Dog?”
Partly because, having written a non-fiction book on dog cloning — a practice I see as selfish, ill-conceived, fraught with animal welfare concerns and maybe a little supernatural itself — I feel the need to stay on top of both the real world attempts to make dogs eternal, and any artsy representations thereof in the entertainment industry.
Partly also because we spot a trend, or maybe the beginning of one, or maybe just two of something.
Coming out next month, in theaters, is Frankenweenie — a remake by Tim Burton of his short film about a dog who is reanimated by his young owner.
“Frankenweenie” looks to be a lot more enthralling, and artsy, than ”Vampire Dog,” whose storyline begins when a boy named Ace inherits a dog named Fang from his grandfather in Transylvania.
Fang is not just a “vampire dog,” but also a talking dog (voiced by Norm MacDonald). I’m pretty sure he doesn’t actually survive on blood (either Fang or MacDonald), and that he (Fang) is more comedic than scary.
According to a synopsis on IMDb, Fang arrives as Ace, the boy, is working to fit in at his new school. There’s a mad scientist involved, named Dr. Warhol, who along with her bumbling assistant tries to capture Fang and steal his DNA in hopes of developing the latest anti-aging technology.
Fang, while evading his pursuers, forms an enduring friendship with Ace and the two discover that together they can face their fears and be unstoppable.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, cloning, dog cloning, dogs, entertainment, eternal, fang, forever, frankenstein, frankenweenie, movies, norm macdonald, pets, reanimated, resurrected, supernatural, tim burton, trailer, trailers, vampire dog, vampires, video
But I just can’t.
Part two of the program, which aired Monday on TLC, followed two potential dog cloning customers and recounted the experiences of a Florida couple who were among the first to get their dog cloned.
All in all, it was, like the first installment, another quasi-documentary that avoided the harsh realities of dog cloning — at least when it comes to all the dogs used in the process of cloning just one.
Instead, reality show style, it reconfirmed how wacky people can get, especially when it comes to their pets, and the lengths they will go to get what they think, or at least let themselves believe, is a live version of their dead dog.
In reality, it’s not, though the show kind of glosses over that, and more, repeatedly referring to cloned dogs as resurrections of the original, and describing their first meetings with their owners as “reunions.”
Given that, the second installment, like the first, was high on melodrama, low on context and served little purpose other than building interest in a service that, while still on the fringes, continues to draw customers.
My opinion — formed in the process of writing a book about the subject — is that pet cloning is almost always best avoided.
It, for starters, is mostly a selfish pursuit. Clients seeking to clone dogs are mostly delusional, at least when it comes to what they expect — the exact same dog, in terms of looks, behavior and personality. Only the first of those can really be achieved, and often only with repeated tries. But beyond that, cloning dogs, at least as practiced in South Korea, raises a host of animal welfare concerns, ranging from the intrusive procedures involved, the number of dogs it takes, both to serve as egg donors and surrogates, and the fact that many of the dogs used in the process have been farm dogs, raised in South Korea for their meat.
Amid all the melodrama in “I Cloned My Pet 2,” there was little discussion of any of that. But amid all the silly moments, there were a few telling ones, some of them even believable.
“Yes, it is the same dog,”” Nina Otto insists in the show. “Yes, it is the same personality. Yes, we got more than we ever bargained for, and we were thrilled to death.”
Nina and her husband Edgar, the grandson of a NASCAR co-founder, had their dog Lancelot cloned three years ago as the highest bidders in an online cloning auction sponsored by an American biotech company. Lancelot Encore was born in a Korean laboratory and delivered by the American company, which has since moved away from dog cloning.
While happy with the dog, Edgar Otto came close in an interview on the show to admitting that their belief Lancelot Encore is the same dog may be a delusion: “Maybe we’ve set ourselves up wanting it to be the same dog, and it probably is not the same dog. Just leave us alone in our beliefs; we’ll be happier.”
The Ottos in 2009 bid $155,000 for the cloning — one of five winning bids in the auction – leading to the dog’s creation at South Korea’s Sooam Institute, the only facility in the world now cloning dogs.
Our favorite part of the show came when a Los Angeles woman named Myra, still grieving the death three years ago of her basenji, Kabuki, debated whether or not to proceed with cloning him.
Her boyfriend thinks it’s a bad choice. She wants it more than anything. Seeking guidance, she contacts a medium who gets in touch with the spirit of Kabuki, a dog whose ashes now rest in a decorated cardboard box in Myra’s bedroom.
It was — if you believe in that kind of stuff – the first time a dead dog was asked his opinion on whether he should be cloned. And he said no.
According to the medium, Kabuki advised Myra to, more or less, get on with her life.
The show’s third main character was Dr. George Semel, a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon, whose Chihuahua was killed by a Rottweiler last year while on a walk.
While struggling to come up with money for the cloning, he eventually works out a payment plan with the Korean lab and receives three copies of his Chihuahua.
Along the way, he holds a “cloning party,” selling his skin cream to raise money, and has a song recorded about cloning his dog. It does not become the viral hit he hoped for:
(Photo: Nina Otto and Lancelot Encore / TLC)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, auction, basenji, beverly hills, chihuahua, clients, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, cloning book, cloning song, copies, customers, dark side, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, duplicates, edgar otto, egg donors, farm dogs, genetic, genetics, george semel, i cloned my pet, installment, john woestendiek, kabuki, laboratory, lancelot encore, meat dogs, myra, nina otto, online, part two, pets, plastic surgeon, resurrection, reunion, second, sooam, south korea, surrogates, television, tlc, video
“I Cloned My Pet” lives again.
And, no — unlike the dogs the show is about – it’s not a repeat.
It was back in January that TLC aired a special broadcast about people who have gotten their dogs cloned — a “documentary” that amounted to little more than an advertisement for the dog cloning industry.
Now the production company that made it has put together a second installment, featuring three new pet owners seeking to resurrect dogs that have died, and TLC will air it tonight at 10 p.m.
If it’s anything like the first, expect another soap opera/infomercial hybrid, with three more highly passionate dog owners, some possibly bordering on bonkers, willing to go to whatever lengths are necessary to bring back a cloned version of their departed dog.
And expect virtually no discussion of any of the disturbing ethical and animal welfare issues surrounding the process.
(You can find those, and the real story behind dog cloning, in my book, “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”)
The first installment of “I Cloned My Pet” focused on three customers of dog cloning — a service that began being marketed before dog cloning was even achieved (in 2005) and, for a while, was being marketed by three different companies. It’s now provided by only one laboratory in South Korea.
In the first show, viewers saw Danielle Tarantola receive a clone of her beloved dog Trouble; Peter Austin Onruang finally got a clone of his dog Wolfie; and Sheryl Carpenter of Albuquerque got to meet the clone of her mastiff mix, Blue Frankenstein, even though she was serving a 10-year prison term for gun running by the time the dog arrived.
In tonight’s episode, we meet George Semel, a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon seeking a clone of his rescued Chihuahua, killed last year when attacked by a Rottweiler; another Los Angeles resident, identified only as Myra, who’s still struggling with the loss of her dog Kabuki and wrapped up in other emotional turmoil as well; and Edgar and Nina Otto from Boca Raton, who won an online cloning auction with their bid of $155,000 and got a copy of their golden retriever, Lancelot.
If it’s like the first one, the new show will put a premium on creating drama while conveniently overlooking cloning’s dark side. Things like:
- The number of dogs used in the cloning process — both as egg donors and surrogate mothers, all of which are sliced open in the process.
- That those dogs — both in the research stages and in commercial cloning — often come from South Korean dog farms, where they are being raised for meat. The dogs responsible for making a clone of your dog possible could end up on dinner plates.
- What happens to the surplus clones that are often produced, because the process doesn’t work everytime and is done repeatedly to ensure a healthy lookalike.
Expect it to perpetuate the myth most customers seem to believe — that a clone of their deceased dog is the same dog, resurrected. While clones are genetic copies, that doesn’t assure they will have the same personality or behave as the original did.
We’re hoping the second installment of “I Cloned My Pet” doesn’t behave as the original did, but that’s doubtful, because the makers of bad television are a lot like cloners — they like to stick with the formula, churning out the same thing over and over again.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, blue frankenstein, book, clients, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, commercial cloning, concerns, copying, customers, danielle tarantola, dark side, death, documentary, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, edgar otto, eternal, eternity, ethics, genetics, george semel, issues, john woestendiek, laboratory, lancelot, life, media, myra, nina otto, peter onruang, pets, science, sheryl carpenter, south korea, television, tlc, trouble, wolfie
With nearly a year having passed since Ace and I rolled to a stop, after 27,000 miles and one year spent rambling, he seemed more than ready for a quick road trip.
When the time did come to leave, he jumped in the back before I could set up his ramp.
Two and a half hours later, we were in Spindale, N.C., where both spring and pollen were in the air, and where I gave a talk about my book, with Ace laying down at my side, doing absolutely nothing, but upstaging me all the same.
Our friend Kim had helped set up our appearance at Isothermal Community College, and when the talk was over, after everyone came up and petted Ace, I followed her to her house.
There, Ace again didn’t want to wait for the ramp. He jumped out and, sensing a cat, ran into her open garage.
I turned to look and got a fleeting glance of a white cat who seemed to jump six feet, straight up, into the air, landing on a heating duct. That was the first, and last, Ace would see of Lily, though he never gave up hope.
Even after Kim got Ace out and closed the garage door, he spent about 15 minutes sitting in front of the the cat door, and, for the next two days — despite having 10 acres at his disposal — he chose to mostly sit in front of one cat door or the other, in hopes Lily would appear. She never did.
Ace, who turned seven in March, had a pretty busy schedule.
And that’s not even counting all the time he put in searching for the cat and monitoring any activity in Kim’s kitchen.
After the appearance at the college, we met with a book club at Fireside Books and Gifts in Forest City.
Again he behaved well, though he did stare down one of the club members until she forfeited the last bite of her sandwich.
Maybe I should go to bookstores and stare at people until they buy my book.
On Friday we appeared in a huge auditorium at Rutherfordton-Spindale Central High School, speaking to about 350 students, most of whom came up to meet him at the end of my talk, which was halfway about Ace and our travels and halfway about DOG, INC.
Once again, it seemed I was doing all the work, and he, effortlessly, was getting all the attention.
He all but ignored a cute little pup in the store named Gretchen, and got growly with her when she tried to jump up on him.
Back at my friend Kim’s house, once all the pizza was gone, he conked out — too tired to even think about Lily.
Our apologies to Lily, for forcing her to lay low for two days.
Our thanks to Kim and family for putting us up, arranging all the appearances, and spoiling Ace rotten.
Between her, the students and me, he consumed three bags of treats over the two-day period.
He has three days to recover before our next trip, to Wilmington, N.C., for a Lunch with an Author event at Cape Fear Community College. It raises funds for creative writing scholarships. Attendees, for $40, get to have lunch with one of about a dozen authors, get a signed copy of that author’s book, and get to listen to that author talk about their book with their mouth full. I imagine it will be like a job interview lunch, where, for fear of getting caught with your mouth full, you don’t really eat.
It being a lunch, Ace won’t be attending that. That would probably be his idea of heaven — a dozen food-filled tables to mooch from — but it wouldn’t be a good idea at all. He will get to see his friends Steve, Louise and Earl again, and we’ll do our best to squeeze in some beach time.
Unless, of course, he sees a cat, in which case we’ll spend all our time waiting for that cat to reappear, even though it won’t.
His cat love has only intensified in recent months — ever since our neighbor got a kitty named Tom, and they began bonding daily through a window, as if on a prison visit.
He definitely seems to be ever-hopeful, and under the impression that good things come to those who wait — whether what he’s waiting for is the next road trip, a hunk of pizza crust flung in his direction, or, best of all, a cat.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, appearances, auditorium, book, books, cloning, dog books, dog cloning, dog inc., fireside books, fireside books and gifts, forest city, isothermal community college, john woestendiek, north carolina, r-s central high school, road trip, rutherfordton, spindale, stage, steinbeck, talks, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley
The Learning Channel airs an hour-long special on pet cloning tonight that looks at three dog owners who sought laboratory-made replicas of their deceased pets.
Judging from the little I’ve seen of it, I think the piece is likely to reinforce the notion that dog lovers who seek to “bring back” their pets are a pretty determined, if not rabid, lot. That notion, as anyone who has read my book knows, isn’t far off the mark.
As shown in “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Dogs Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry,” the customers seeking clones, the South Korean scientists who worked to make dog cloning a reality, and those who marketed the service, all had one thing in common — a strong, sometime boundary-exceeding will to make it happen.
Tonight’s TLC special, “I Cloned My Pet,” focuses primarily on Danielle Tarantola, who has received one clone of her dog, Trouble, and expects to soon to take delivery of a second.
But I’m curious to see if — in addition to showing cute puppies — the show will give equal time to the less than cute, often downright ugly, side of dog cloning: such as deaths and deformities, and how many dogs it takes to produce a single clone; such as what happens to surplus clones who don’t come out exactly right; such as what goes on to happen to the egg donor and surrogate dogs after they make their contribution to creating a clone in South Korea.
Trouble died three years ago and his owner’s home in Staten Island is still a veritable shrine to the canine. Trouble’s face graces the walls, and the comforter on her bed, in which she sleeps, or slept, beside an urn of his ashes every night.
She’d even saved the last piece of chicken the 18-year-old dog nibbled on.
Tarantola got a big discount on her cloning bill from South Korea’s Sooam Institute in exchange for cooperating with the makers of the documentary, so we’ll have to wait and see how objective she, and it, are.
I’m told the report also includes the stories of two other customers intent on getting their dogs cloned, one of whom is a California man featured in my book. The other is a New Mexico woman who had her dog cloned even as she faced a prison sentence of a duration that will likely preclude her from spending much quality time with his replica.
“I Cloned My Pet” airs tonight at 9 p.m. on TLC.
You can catch a sneak peak of it at People Pets.
You can expect me to weigh in on it in days ahead.
(Photo: Snuppy, the world’s first canine clone / By John Woestendiek)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, author, book, business, canine, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, danielle tarantola, death, documentary, dog, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, grieving, i cloned my pet, john woestendiek, loss, marketing, pets, science, south korea, television, the learning channel, tlc, trouble, tv
As mentioned in our previous post about a cloned dog arriving home in Albuquerque, my book on dog cloning is coming out in paperback soon.
So it seems as good a time as any to unveil its new look, namely, a new cover and subtitle — proving that books resurrected as paperbacks, like dogs resurrected as clones, don’t always look exactly like the original.
“DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” will be coming back to life as “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”
The book looks at the history and ethics of dog cloning, and the marketing of the service — before dog cloning was even achieved — to bereaved pet owners.
In the paperback version, the cute little beagle with a bar code on its butt is gone from the cover, replaced by six framed images of the same dog — is it a Jack Russell terrier? In any case, it’s a generic pooch, I should point out, and not one of the hundreds of cloned dogs that have been produced in South Korea.
You can learn more about the book here.
You can read an excerpt here.
You can read some customer reviews — thanks, customers — here.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 31st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, author, avery, books, books on dogs, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, cover, dog, dog books, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, genetics, john woestendiek, paperback, penguin, pets, resurrection, science, subtitle
When Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, N.C., invited Ace and me for a book signing, we couldn’t wait for the time to arrive, for — in addition to maybe selling a few copies of “DOG, INC.” — it meant a return to the beach.
He got up, poked his head out the window and his tail commenced to wagging.
By the time we pulled up to our host’s house — that’s him, Earl, to the left — Ace was raring to jump out of the car.
Once inside, we found Earl in a first floor room, where he was watching a gardening show on TV.
He showed us upstairs to our room and, after dropping my bags, we all headed out for a quick romp on the beach.
Back inside, I sat in the swinging rope chair on the deck and hoisted him in my lap. He seemed especially interested in my breath — maybe because he was trying to figure out who the heck had invaded his home, maybe because of the peanut butter left from the two sandwiches Ace and I shared on the drive down.
Or perhaps he remembered me. That’s what I like to think.
After a while, Earl went to work on his tan, and Ace joined him briefly on the neighboring lounge before deciding the shade would be nicer.
Some humans live in the beach house, too, who we’ve told you about before. They’ll be bringing Earl along to tomorrow (Tuesday) night’s signing.
It’s at Pomegranate Books, 4418 Park Avenue in Wilmington, starting at 7 p.m.
“DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” recounts the race to clone the world’s first dog, the quick transition the service made to the marketplace, and the stories of the first pet owners who, hoping for genetic duplicates of their recently deceased pets, availed themselves of the service.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appearance, author, beach, book, book signing, books, clone, cloned, cloning, dog, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, earl, figure 8, island, john woestendiek, non-fiction, north carolina, pets, pomegranate books, signing, stranger than fiction, wilmington
Most official accounts will tell you that search and rescue dogs at the World Trade Center found only cadavers after 9-11 — that no dog tracked down a survivor.
But the owner and handler of Trakr — a German shepherd retired from the Halifax, Nova Scotia, police department — says his dog did.
Specifically, says former Halifax police officer James Symington, it was Trakr who first alerted to the spot of rubble under which Genelle Guzman-McMillan would later be found.
Trakr died a hero — at least in the eyes of many — in 2009.
But part of him would live on.
An American company — the only one offering dog cloning to the general public — pronounced Trakr the most “cloneworthy” dog in America and had his cells shipped to Seoul, South Korea, where five clones of Trakr were produced, arriving in the U.S. about three months after Trakr’s death.
Symington is now training the clones — known collectively as Team Trakr — to be search and rescue dogs.
Trakr’s tale is among those told in my book, DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.
And, yes, it’s non-fiction.
I first ran into a clone of Trakr (that’s one of them to the left) when I visited the South Korean lab that, having contracted with the American company, was cloning Trakr, as well as five other dogs for customers who had taken part in an online dog cloning auction.
The lab was operated by Hwang Woo Suk, who — after heading the team that produced the world’s first canine clone, Snuppy — was fired from Seoul National University for falsifying results of his experiments on creating cloned human embryos.
While the American company, Bio-Arts, had told me Hwang’s lab would be off limits to me during my visit, I was, to my surprise, welcomed, given a tour, and allowed to observe a cloning.
While some I interviewed for the book cast doubt on Symington’s 9-11 claims — including a New York firefighter who said no dogs were involved in Guzman-McMillan’s rescue — Symington, the friend who accompanied him from Halifax to New York and two volunteer firefighters insist Trakr alerted to the spot Guzman-McMillan was later found buried under.
Symington, who was out on sick leave and went to New York without the authorization of his department, was fired shortly after he returned. Officials said his participation in the rescue effort ran counter to his claim of being unable to work.
Symington never checked in with those coordinating the canine search and rescue effort at the World Trade Center, but, like many others, went straight to work after arriving.
Trakr’s work at 9-11, his career as a police dog in Halifax and the strong emotional connection between handler and dog prompted Symington to bank the dog’s cells years before he entered the contest — back when Bio-Arts was known as Genetic Savings & Clone.
The company, originally based in Texas, where experiments aimed at cloning the first dog were going on at Texas A&M University, was connected to John Sperling, the founder of the University of Phoenix, and the man who was financing the research.
After A&M dropped the project, Seoul National University in South Korea cloned the world’s first dog. Genetic Savings & Clone resurfaced as Bio-Arts, and its CEO, Lou Hawthorne, worked out a deal with Hwang, who’d since opened his own institute, to clone dogs for the company, starting with Hawthorne’s mother’s dog, Missy.
Symington was to receive a single clone of the dog, but, as Hawthorne explained at the time, “We decided collectively that the world would be a better place with more Trakrs.”
Symington is training all five clones to do search and rescue and work, continuing the legacy of Trakr, who died at age 16.
The five Trakr clones were born over a four month span, the first on Dec. 8, 2009. Later, Symington received what was said to be a sixth clone of Trakr — this one, somehow, a female.
While some canine clones accidentally come out with a gender opposite their donor, or even of mixed gender, it’s not clear — to me at least — whether creating a female version of Trakr was intentional, an accident, simply the result of mating a Trakr clone with a female German shepherd, or the result of some even newer technology developed in South Korea.
After cloning Trakr, and all five winning bidder’s dogs, the American company withdrew from the dog cloning business in 2010, leaving just one South Korean company, RNL Bio, that still clones dogs as a business. Hwang, however, who created the Trakr clones, continues to clone dogs at his research institute.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 9-11, 911, anniversary, attack, auction, bio arts, bioengineering, book, cloned, clones, cloning, contest, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs of 9-11, genelle guzman-mcmillan, genetic savings & clone, genetics, golden clone giveaway, james symington, john woestendiek, online, RNL Bio, search and rescue, seoul, September 11, south korea, survivors, trakr, world trade center