Tag: john woestendiek
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.
Lancelot Encore, cloned in South Korea in an American company’s online dog cloning auction three years ago, is the father of eight pups, born on the 4th of July to another Labrador who was artificially inseminated with his sperm.
And they are for sale, at a price yet to be announced. (AKC registration is not a possibility because the organization doesn’t recognize clones as purebreds.)
Lancelot Encore’s owners, Ed and Nina Otto, have set up a website called labraclone.com which offers “future pups from the past” and will be used to sell seven of the puppies.
The Florida couple bid $155,000 to get the original Lancelot, who died of cancer, cloned in an online auction held by BioArts, an American company that attempted to clone the world’s first dog, then partnered with one of the South Korean scientists who was the first to pull the feat off.
Not long after Lancelot Encore settled in their home, with their nine other pets, the Ottos began thinking about breeding him.
Mrs. Otto said they paid several thousand dollars for a lab to inseminate a female Labrador, named Scarlett, with Lancelot Encore’s sperm.
Nina Otto said she was “tickled pink” that the babies had arrived naturally, the SunSentinel.com reported.
“I am keeping one and we are hoping to find good homes for all the other puppies,” she said.
Given the litter’s birthdate, the Ottos gave all eight pups patriotic names: Glory, Liberty, Star, Allegiance, America, Patriot, Independence and Victory.
While some news outlets, The Daily Mail in London included, call Lancelot the first dog to be commercially cloned (so do the Ottos), he’s not. Lancelot Encore is the first single birth commercial clone. The first canine clones delivered to a paying customer were five pups manufactured from the cells of a dead pit bull named Booger, by another South Korean company.
The full story of dog cloning can be found in the book, “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”
You can read an excerpt here.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, artificial insemination, biology, biotech, canine, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, commercial, dog, dog cloning book, dog inc., dogs, ed otto, fathers, florida, industry, john woestendiek, labraclone, labrador, lancelot, lancelot encore, natural, nina otto, pets, puppies, pups, selling, sires, website
Encountered: While walking my dog in my neighborhood in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Backstory: More than a year after setting off to retrace the path of John Steinbeck and his poodle Charley, we finally ran into a poodle named Charlie.
Even though it’s spelled differently, Charlie is named after the dog Steinbeck explored the country with in “Travels with Charley.”
His owner is a big fan of the book.
Ace and I ran into her and Charlie while passing the Diamondback Grill, where Ace always stops for water and a treat. It’s just down the road from where our year of travels came to an end, when Ace and I moved into the very apartment I was born in.
It struck me as interesting that only after completing our quest — only after we finished our 27,000 miles of Charley-inspired travels around the country – we’d finally encounter a poodle named Charley, or even Charlie.
Perhaps it just goes to show you, or at least me — when you finally stop looking for something, that’s usually when you find it.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, charley, charlie, dogs, john steinbeck, john woestendiek, pets, poodle, road trip, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley
Revised, reconfigured and ready to get you all the way through 2013, the “Travels with Ace” calendar is back on sale for a limited time.
A heavy-duty, 18-month wall calendar, it’s illustrated with photos from our year-long, 27,000-mile trip across America — from the coast of Maine, where Ace was the first dog in America to see the sunrise one day in October, to the shores of Monterey, where Ace hopped up for a closer look at a bust of John Steinbeck — the author who inspired our journey.
You can buy it and get more information here, or by clicking on that ad to the left.
Fifty percent of profits from the sale of the calendar go to Rolling Dog Farm, a sanctuary for deaf, blind and disabled animals in New Hampshire (and also one of the stops on our trip).
We’ve added photos of one stop that we didn’t include the first time around — the Coon Dog Cemetery in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
The rest of the calendar is packed with images from some of our other stops:
@Salvation Mountain in California, where Leonard Knight has fashioned and painted a mountain in honor of God.
@Niagara Falls, where Ace — ohmigod! — almost disappeared.
@The Lodge, a gentleman’s club in Dallas, where we met one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, and where Ace briefly took the stage.
@Various points south, like Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, where we kept running into kudzu dogs.
@The mountains of North Carolina, where we went in search of the elusive — and sometimes not so elusive — white squirrel.
@Rolling Dog Farm, where we reconnected with some old friends.
@John Steinbeck’s former home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., where we began retracing the route the author took in “Travels with Charley.”
@A marina in Baltimore, where we lived on a sailboat for a week, which Ace mostly liked.
Initial sales of the calendar raised $400 for Rolling Dog Farm.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, alabama, america, animals, arizona, baltimore, bandera, calendar, calendars, california, coast, coon dog cemetery, dallas texas, dog, dogs, fathers day, following, gentleman's club, gift, gifts, john steinbeck, john woestendiek, lancaster, maine, monterey, new hamsphire, niagara falls, north carolina, ohmidog!, oregon, path, pets, photography, photos, road trip, rolling dog farm, route, salinas, strip clubs, the lodge, trail, travel, travels with ace, travels with charley, trip, tucson, wall calendar, white squirrels, winslow
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
This photo seems to sum up Ace’s feelings (as I read them, anyway) about the ocean.
Upon seeing it, he starts acting half his age (I do too), gets totally energized (I do somewhat), and bolts into the water until a wave hits him and he starts having second thoughts.
He eagerly chased this ball into the ocean (and he’s not real into ball chasing) and scooped it up. Then, though his tail was in full curl – the barometer by which I measure his happiness – he got a look on his face that seemed to say “what am I doing in here?”
Then he rushed ashore before the next wave broke. He loves the ocean. But he has a slight fear, or should we say healthy respect, of waves.
Ace and I were in Wilmington visiting friends Steve and Louise Coggins, who we’ve told you about before, and who, in addition to putting us up, sponsored my table at a “Lunch with an Author” event at Cape Fear Community College.
The event, which raises money for creative writing scholarships, was pretty easy duty — a two minute speech, and lunch with a friendly group of people who, by virtue of sitting at my table, got my book (“DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”)
Among the dozen North Carolina authors appearing were Rory Flynn, the daughter of Errol Flynn and author of “The Baron of Mulholland”; Martha D. Peterson, a former CIA agent and author of “The Widow Spy;” and Katerina Katsarka, author of “Around a Greek Table, Recipes and Stories.” Katerina also stayed at the home of Steve and Louise, and brought along some the best spanakopita I’ve ever had.
Ace didn’t get any of that — I don’t think – but he did manage to mooch more than his share of treats at their home on Figure 8 Island.
As opposed to the hands-free bottle, or an IV Coca-Cola drip?
The only downside of the trip was a flat tire. Fortunately it didn’t take place until I had arrived on the island. Unfortunately, my spare tire, while it rides on the back of my Jeep, is temporarily trapped behind a locking bicycle rack.
A locking rack whose key disappeared a long time ago. (It’s pretty amazing that, in our 27,000-mile road trip with Ace, that never arose as an issue.)
That appeared to mean I would need a tow-job, and a whole new tire, even though the ones on my car are only about two weeks old.
The tow-truck man quickly located the hole, though, and plugged it up. He also passed on some useful beach knowledge — misting yourself with a Listerine-water mix (I presume in a hand-held bottle), will keep no-see-ums away.
It was far too quick a beach visit, but a thoroughly enjoyable one, especially for Ace, who got a sufficient amount of ocean time, a more than sufficient amount of treats, and some quiet time with his good friend Earl.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, beach, cape fear community college, coca cola, coke, dog inc., dogs, figure 8 island, flat tire, hand held bottle, john woestendiek, lunch with an author, north carolina, ocean, pets, road trip, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, waves, wilmington
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
Last night, in Los Angeles, the Golden Collar Awards were underway — bestowing the canine version of Oscars on dogs for their performances in movies and television.
Meanwhile, in New York, that prestigous annual beauty pageant known as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opened.
In between the coasts, across America, it was business as usual: dogs in our movies, dogs in our parks, dogs in our beds, dogs in our yards, dogs on the cover of Time magazine; dogs visiting psychiatrists, getting pampered, dining on gourmet meals and chewing up a little more of the record $35 billion it’s estimated we will spend on them this year.
There’s a cliche we never use on this blog — “going to the dogs.” Headline composers love it, as do writers who are writing too fast. It suggests that — ohmigoodness! — dogs are taking over, whether it’s an event, a location, or the world.
Sometimes, there’s the accompanying implication, or outright fretting, that dogs, or our love for them, is getting out of hand.
So what else is new?
John Timpane, in a commentary piece Sunday for the Philadelphia Inquirer, is one of the latest to weigh in on the subject in an article that looked at the pedestal-like heights, and red carpet treatment, some dogs are achieving. It quoted a few dog experts, of which (though I question my credentials) I was happy to be one. And it avoided the common trap of describing it all — given I’m pretty sure there were pharaohs who coddled their dogs — as something new.
“Before anyone trots out ‘It’s all going to the dogs,’ let’s recall that the human world has been a mondo cane (dog’s world) for about 15,000 years now,” he wrote. “This year is only one more peak in a long and beautiful friendship between homo sapiens sapiens and canis lupus familiaris. Human beings have created more than 5,000 breeds, the longest-running genetic engineering experiment of all time.”
Still, dogs today are, as a species, higher up on the pedestal than ever. How’d they get there? By being so damn smart. By being so very obliging. By doing what we can’t always do ourselves — up to and including figuring us out.
Timpane’s article quotes Christina Williamson, a wolf researcher, behavior consultant and trainer at DogTown Obedience in Morrisville, Vt., who says dogs have learned social skills their wolf forebears never had.
“The biggest one would be their social connection to people,” she says, “their even being interested in communicating with people, figuring out what people are asking them to do. Some of it is to gain access to resources, such as a toy or food. But clearly it’s also for having the relationship itself, the emotional connection. That’s unique.”
Timpane goes on to quote me and, more importantly, mention my book.
John Woestendiek, a former Inquirer writer, is a big dog fan. He runs ohmidog!, a canine-themed website, and is author of Dog, Inc., an exposé of dog cloning. He says our cur connection reflects the human need to give and receive affection. People have “become emotional codependents with their dog,” he says. “We make room for them, and they gladly step in, whether it’s into the house, the sofa, the bed, or whatever void needs filling …
“So we have greyhounds racing, and dog beauty pageants, and dogs in handbags,” Woestendiek says. “We have dogs that can adapt to guiding the blind, or sense an oncoming seizure, or sniff out cancer. And we have gazillions more that do the less specialized daily work of simply keeping their humans calm and on an even keel.”
Have we come to expect too much of them? Probably. Are we making them too human? Definitely. Are we manipulating them more than we have a right to? Maybe. Do they mind? Seemingly, not at all.
“The astonishing thing is,” Timpane notes, “whatever we throw at (them) dogs lap it up.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, award shows, beauty pageants, commentary, dependency, dogs, evolution, going to the dogs, golden collar awards, humans, john timpane, john woestendiek, pedestal, pets, philadelphia inquirer, red carpet, species, westminster
Meet Ace’s uncloned clone.
Last week, while I was bouncing around doing interviews on my book about dog cloning, a friend of mine at Best Friends in Utah sent along a photo of a dog she’d come across on the Internet.
That’s Ace on the right, and the lookalike on the left. She was found wandering in Michigan and — as as my friend noted — seems the spitting image of the dog I like to think of as one of a kind.
(And still do, no matter how many thousands of doppelgangers are out there.)
I’ve seen and met a few dogs that somewhat resemble Ace, but never one who does so as closely as this girl, especially when you compare her to the young Ace.
So with dog cloning back in the news, I’ll remake a point I made in the book, “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”
If you’re looking for another dog just like your current or past dog, you can find it at a shelter – if not in your hometown, somewhere in America.
And while that dog will only resemble your dog in physical appearance, that’s all the cloners really guarantee, anyway.
In all the media coverage of the most recent canine clone to come to U.S. shores, no one has explained — or even pointed out — that Double Trouble, featured on last night’s TLC special, looks little like Trouble, to the left.
The original Trouble’s face, in most pictures, was mostly white, with some dark and greyish highlights.
Double Trouble’s face (left) is amost entirely dark, with far more brown fur and just a few little patches of white around his nose. Much, if not all, of the difference could fade away as Double Trouble grows up and his coat changes color. Photos of the original Trouble show him with darker coloring around his face, too.
Still, though, the truth of the matter is that genetic copies, in addition to not always acting alike (I’m sure you can think of some twins that exemplify this), don’t always look alike, either — as was evidenced, memorably, by the first cloned cat. It was two-colored; it’s donor was tri-colored.
For those South Korean laboratories producing clones, there’s an easy way around the physical discrepancies — produce enough clones to ensure not just that there will be live births, but that at least one of them will be identical.
That means making repeated efforts, using multiple dogs as egg donors and more yet to serve as surrogate dogs. It means more dogs rented from dog farms, only to be returned after laboratory use and sold as meat, as was the case during my visit there. It also means surplus clones.
None of cloning’s many downsides received much mention in last night’s TLC special, “I Cloned My Pet,” which followed three customers seeking laboratory made replicas of their deceased dogs.
While it did show the death of one clone shortly after birth, it glossed over cloning’s cons, and, worse yet, seemed to accept the bogus idea that clones are reincarnated versions of the original.
“Cloning offered the tempting chance to bring Trouble back to life,” the narrator said at one point. “The new old dog is reborn,” he said at another.
That, while not the reality, is the sincere hope of most customers. All three made comments about whether the clones of their dogs would “remember them.”
In addition to Danielle Tarantola, who recently received one clone of Trouble and is expecting another, the show featured Peter Austin Onruang, a California man who has spent years and hired two different labs to clone his dog, Wolfie. Two Wolfie clones have been born and survived. None of the others most recently implanted in five surrogate mothers did.
A third customer was a New Mexico woman who had made arrangements to clone her mastiff mix, Blue Frankenstein, even as she faced a prison sentence.
Identified only as Sheryl, she was allowed to meet the clone after it was delivered to the U.S. With cameras rolling, she fawned over the clone in a jailhouse visit. But, as the show pointed out, she isn’t likely to see him again given her conviction and 10-year sentence for transporting firearms.
In the most ludicrous scene in the special, Blue is taken to a “dog whisperer,” who interviews the pup. The dog, we’re told, tells the animal communicator about one memory he has from his previous life — how his owner saved one of his toenails and turned it into jewelry.
All of the owners claimed to see their old dogs in their new dogs — in terms of looks, behavior and personality.
Tarantola points out that Double Trouble lays down the same way the original did, with his rear legs splayed out behind him. “… He was bouncing around like Trouble used to do … He lays on pillows like Trouble used to do. He really, really has the same personality.”
Without going all adversarial, I’d point out this — based on what she says and my conversations with other cloning customers: When it comes to love — and that, at the root of it, is what pet cloning is all about — we sometimes see what we want to see, and don’t always see what we don’t want to see.
But that, like the ethics and morality of dog cloning, got little scrutiny in the TLC documentary.
What it did make clear — though I don’t think it did so on purpose — is that there is a degree of selfishness involved in getting one’s dog cloned. The customers all feel as if, nature be damned, they deserve their dog “back.” While it would be equally as misguided, none seem to be doing it for the sake of their dog.
And that’s another question seldom asked. As humans get their dogs cloned — to recapture a bond, erase their loneliness, or to relive, if not their own youth, at least their dog’s – how fair is it to the animals?
What does it say of the original dog if recreating him or her is a simple matter of sending a pea-sized chunk of flesh to a laboratory in South Korea?
And how fair is it to the newborn clone? On top of all the high and possibly unmeetable expectations he or she will have to live up to, will that dog ever be viewed as the unique creature it is, or only as a repeat?
Posted by jwoestendiek January 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, clients, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, documentary, dog inc., dogs, genetics, i cloned my pet, identical, john woestendiek, look alike, pet owners, pets, show, south korea, special, television, the learning channel, tlc