Ace and I will be appearing at the Aperture Cinema in Winston-Salem this week for a group discussion following the showing of the animated movie, “My Dog Tulip,” based on J.R. Ackerley’s memoir of his relationship with his dog.
I’ll also be talking about, selling and signing my new book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
If you’re wondering what the human-dog bond, or a memoir about that, have in common with cloning, the answer is:
For, in addition to the profits foreseen by entrepreneurs, it was that bond – tighter-than-ever as the 21st Century arrived– that sparked the attempt to clone dogs, prompted customers to sign up for it and led to the emergence of a fledgling, and highly questionable, pet cloning industry.
And what, after all, is a dog clone but a living, breathing, laboratory re-creation of the past — a memoir you can pet?
The first dog whose cloning was attempted by U.S. scientists, in fact, was a border collie mix who belonged to — you guessed it — a memoir writer. Missy, as it turned out, wasn’t the first dog cloned. South Korean scientists accomplished that first with an Afghan hound, whose clone would be named Snuppy. But Missy was eventually cloned — more than five times.
Cloning wasn’t available in J.R. Ackerley’s day (the British writer died in 1967), but given the love he expressed for his German shepherd, given his many unsuccesful attempts to breed her to another purebred “Alsatian,” given the void she filled in his life and the one her passing left in it, he might have considered it, if it had been.
“Tulip,” whose real name was Queenie — publishers opted to change it, fearing its gay connotations might be too titillating for stuffy old 1950′s England – spent 14 years with Ackerley, and according to some accounts he never quite got over her death.
“She offered me what I had never found in my life with humans: constant, single-hearted, incorruptible, uncritical devotion, which it is in the nature of dogs to offer,” he says in the book, written while she was still alive.
The movie — though, like the book, it doesn’t shy away from dogs’ bodily functions — is charming and charmingly animated, drawn and directed by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, and narrated by Christopher Plummer, in the role of Ackerley. It also features the voices of Isabella Rossellini and Lynn Redgrave.
It tells the story of a man who, having all but given up on finding an “ideal friend” in the human world, finds one in a canine — the first dog he’s had in his life.
I’ll be leaving my ideal friend home tonight, but Ace, if he feels up to it, is scheduled to join me at the theater Wednesday night.
The movie starts at 8 p.m., both nights, with the discussion following. The Aperture Cinema is at 311 W. 4th St. in downtown Winston-Salem.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, alsatian, animals, aperture, bond, book, book signing, cinema, cloning, dog, dog inc., dogs, friends, german shepherd, human, ideal friend, jr ackerley, loss, love, man's best friend, memoirs, missy, my dog tulip, north carolina, pets, queenie, snuppy, tulip, unconditional, void, winston-salem
I’ve written my name in books before — but always as a reminder to other people to keep their grubby paws off of them, or at least return them when they’re done.
But yesterday was a first: I signed my own book — own, as in the one I wrote.
So when my publisher called to find out where to send the author’s copies of “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend,” I used my brother’s address, and he delivered them over the weekend.
I won’t compare the excitement of tearing open that cardboard box to seeing your baby arrive — that would be wrong — but there are some similarities, the main ones being, “Wow, that came out of me?” and the realization that all the labor pains were worth it after all.
The book is about the cloning of dogs — how, and why, it came to be achieved, and the colorful characters involved: from the Arizona billionaire who funded the initial research; to the scientists who produced Snuppy, the first canine clone, in South Korea; to those who marketed the service (even before the first dog was cloned); to those who bought it, the bereaved pet owners seeking replicas of dogs dead or near death.
It was two years in the making (the book, not dog cloning) — a project I undertook right after I left the Baltimore Sun, and one that wouldn’t have been accomplished were it not for the help of a lot of people.
My first autographed copy is being sent to one of them, Rona Kim, a law student in Seoul who served as my guide and interpreter during my visit to Korea, and without whom I would have probably spent three-fourths of my time there hopelessly lost.
The official release date of “DOG, INC.” is Dec. 30, but it can be pre-ordered now from all the major retailers.
By then, Ace and I will be headed back east — first to Washington for a scheduled appearance on the Diane Rehm show Jan. 5 (me, not Ace), then to Baltimore, where we hope to host a couple of book signing parties (details to come) and find a place to call home.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, author, autographed, baltimore, book, book signing, books, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, dead, death, dog, dog inc., dogs, grief, john woestendiek, korea, man's best friend, marketing, new release, non-fiction, order, pets, pre order, publishing, release, rona kim, science, scientists, seoul, signing, snuppy, travels with ace, uncanny inside story
The only U.S. biotech company involved in cloning dogs commercially is pulling out of the business, according to the Korea Times.
Lou Hawthorne, the chief executive of California-based BioArts, said the company will discontinue cloning dogs for customers in light of failed legal efforts to prevent a South Korean rival company from offering cloning services.
In an e-mailed statement to the newspaper, Hawthorne condemned the Korean company, RNL Bio in Seoul, as “black-market cloners,” and also claimed that the occasional physical anomalies of its cloned puppies proved that cloning is a technology “not ready for prime time.”
BioArts has completed the delivery of cloned dogs to five clients — all bidders in an online auction held this summer, the company said.
The withdrawl of BioArts from dog cloning leaves RNL Bio as the world’s only company involved in the commercial cloning of dogs.
RNL recently announced plans to open a canine cloning center in Korea next year, where it plans to produce 1,000 cloned dogs per year by 2013.
BioArts had insisted it held the sole rights to clone dogs, cats and other mammals under licenses from Start Licensing, which acquired the rights to the technology developed to clone Dolly the sheep from the Roslin Institute.
Start Licensing filed a lawsuit against RNL Bio for patent infringement last October, but Hawthorne said Start Licensing’s legal response was “too little, too late.”
“It became apparent that Start was unwilling either to commit to defend their cloning patents against infringers or grant to BioArts the right to do so on their behalf,” Hawthorne said.
“Start was afraid to defend their patents against challengers in the dog cloning space because if they lost, they might also lose the ability to control markets they actually cared about — mainly agricultural cloning. Start’s strong preference was to do nothing to defend the dog cloning market against patent infringers.”
In closing its cloning business, BioArts also ended its partnership with Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, which is led by scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who was fired from Seoul National University shortly after the announcement that it had cloned the world’s first dog, Snuppy.
While Snuppy was verified to be a clone, Hwang’s studies on cloned human stem cells were exposed as fraudulent, leading to criminal charges.
(Photos: Top, James Symington receiving five clones of his dead search and rescue dog Trakr. Symington, who won BioArts “Golden Clone Giveaway” contest, says Trakr found the last survivor at 9-11; by John Woestendiek. Left, Lou Hawthorne with three clones of his mother’s dog, Missy; courtesy of BioArts)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 9-11, bioarts, biotech, business, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, dog, golden clone giveaway, hwang woo suk, korea, lou hawthorne, rivalry, RNL Bio, seoul, seoul national university, snuppy, symington
Offspring of Snuppy — the world’s first cloned dog — are being offered to the public by Seoul National University, where Snuppy was created in 2005.
The Korea Times reports that applications are being accepted, and the nine puppies will be given to good homes at no charge.
The puppies aren’t clones themselves, but are the offspring of Snuppy and two female Afghans that were cloned at SNU to serve as his girlfriends, and for research purposes — namely to determine whether two cloned dogs can produce pups the natural way, or at least through artificial insemination.
Snuppy became a father in May last year after impregnating the two female clones, named Bona and Hope. It was the world’s first successful breeding involving only cloned canines. One of the 10 puppies died after birth, but the remaining nine — six males and three females — remain healthy.
Lee Byeong-chun, one of the leaders of the team that created Snuppy, said the school will take online applications until Oct. 31 and offer the puppies to pet owners for free after a screening process. Each dog will be spayed or neutered.
“We will look through the applications and give the dogs to owners who we believe are most capable of raising them,” Lee said.
Lee’s team used artificial insemination to impregnate the two cloned Afghan hound females with Snuppy’s sperm last year.
Lee collaborated with now-disgraced gene scientist Hwang Woo-suk in the creation of Snuppy in 2005. Hwang was fired from SNU in the following year after his work on cloned human stem cells was exposed as fraudulent.
Since then, both men have continued to clone dogs — Lee at SNU and Hwang at a private facility he opened outside Seoul in 2007.
Lee had also announced plans to mate the world’s first cloned wolf, born in 2006, with other cloned wolves. Those plans took a blow earlier this week when the world’s first cloned wolf, Snuwolf, was found dead in a Seoul zoo.
(Photo: By John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 3rd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghan, applications, bona, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, dead, dog, dogs, free, hope, offered, puppies, seoul national university, snuppy, snuwolf, south korea, wolf, wolves
Six cloned drug-sniffing dogs have gone on duty at Seoul-Incheon International Airport in South Korea.
The dogs are among seven genetic duplicates of a single Labrador retriever named Chase, cloned at Seoul National University for use by the Korean Customs Service.
The dogs, having completed 16 months of training, will work at the airport and three other customs checkpoints to deter drug smuggling, according to the Associated Press.
They are part of a litter of seven born in 2007 through cloning a skilled drug-sniffing canine in active service. They were all named “Toppy” — a combination of the words “tomorrow” and “puppy.” One dropped out of training due to an injury.
The cloning was conducted by a team of Seoul National University scientists who in 2005 successfully created the world’s first dog clone, an Afghan hound named Snuppy.
The customs service says using clones could help reduce costs due to the difficulties in finding dogs qualified to sniff out contraband. Only about three of every 10 naturally born dogs the service trains end up qualifying for the job.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 20th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airport, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, customs, detection, drug, incheon, K-9, korea, korean, labrador, news, ohmidog!, puppy, seoul national university, service, sniffing, snuppy, south korea, tomorrow, toppy
All named “Ruppy” — a combination of the words “ruby” and “puppy” — the dogs are pups no more, as you can see in a photo I took in February during my visit to Seoul National University, where Snuppy, the world’s first dog clone, was born in 2005.
Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, says they are the world’s first transgenic cloned dogs.
The fluorescence serves no purpose — other than letting the scientists know that the modified genes they inserted during the cloning process were successfully transferred.
“What’s significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them,” Lee told the Associated Press Tuesday.
Successfully cloning dogs with flourescent genes paves the way to implanting disease-related genes into dogs, which will allow scientists to study and develop cures for human diseases.
The fluorescence is noticeable, even when the dogs aren’t under ultraviolet light. The Ruppy I met and photographed had pinkish skin around his nose, and pink claws.
Scientists in the U.S., Japan and in Europe have cloned fluorescent mice and pigs, but SNU’s achievement is the first time dogs with modified genes have been cloned successfully, Lee said.
He said his team took skin cells from a beagle, inserted fluorescent genes into them and put them into enucleated eggs cells from a surrogate mother dog. Those were implanted into the womb of the surrogate mother, a local mixed breed. Six cloned flourescent female beagles were born in December 2007, two of which died.
Lee said his team has already started to implant human disease-related genes during the cloning process, in hopes they will be able to discover treatments for genetic diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 29th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beagle, biotech, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, disease, dogs, fluorescent, glowing, human, lee byeong-chun, models, red, research, ruppy, science, seoul national university, snuppy, south korea, transgenic
A Korean biotech company has announced the birth of another cloned dog — a Pekingese.
It was the first successful cloning of a toy breed.
RNL Bio, a Seoul-based company dedicated to the development of stem cell therapeutics, announced late last week that it successfully produced a clone of a nine-year-old dog named Jasmine for a client in the United States.
The tissue from the original Jasmine (above left) was harvested at an animal hospital in Rockville, Maryland and the cells were processed and sent to the firm’s cloning facility in Seoul in November, 2008. The pregnancy was confirmed in mid-December, and a surrogate mother dog gave birth to the puppy on Feb. 1.
After the cloned puppy was weaned from the surrogate’s milk and was confirmed to be in good health, RNL announced the cloning.
“With our proprietary dog cloning technology, any breed can be cloned and there has been no failure in our cloning history,” Dr. Jeong Chan Ra, RNL’s CEO said. “We foresee that cloning demand for both pets and work dogs will increase in the near future.”
The original Jasmine will meet the clone in early April when she is delivered to the U.S. The company claims the first commercial dog cloning in 2008 — five pit bulls cloned from tissue of a California woman’s deceased dog.
RNL produces the clones in conjunction with Seoul National University, which cloned the first dog in the world, Snuppy, in 2005.
The university sold patent rights stemming from Snuppy’s cloning to RNL. A U.S. company, Bio Arts International, is also cloning dogs commercially in conjunction with Hwang Woo-Suk, a former SNU scientist who oversaw Snuppy’s cloning but was later fired for fraudulently reporting research results regarding his work in human embryo stem cells.
Bio Arts claims its patent, stemming from the cloning of Dolly the sheep, gives it the sole right to clone mammals. While Bio Arts says RNL is infringing on its patent, RNL says Bio Arts — through Hwang’s work — is infringing on the Seoul National University patent.
Both companies are continuing to clone dogs for customers, though the dispute is unresolved.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 1st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bank, bio arts, cell bank, clone, cloned, cloning, dog, dog cloning, hwang, jasmine, pekingese, ra, RNL Bio, seoul, seoul national university, snuppy, south korea, stem cell, stem cell bank
One of the highlights of my trip to Korea was meeting Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog.
Snuppy was born in 2005 at Seoul National University — and his name is a combination of the school’s initials and the word “puppy.”
DNA from the ear of the donor dog — an Afghan named Tai, who belongs to another professor at the veterinary school — was inserted into enucleated egg cells of another dog, zapped with electricity, then implanted into a surrogate mother dog.
Snuppy arrived a couple of months later.
Seoul National University has cloned about 30 more dogs since then, many of them in conjunction with a private company, RNL Bio, which last year began marketing dog cloning.
Tai’s owner said that, though his dog and Snuppy are dead ringers for each other, they are totally different dogs, owing in large part to the environments they’ve grown up in — Tai in a private home, Snuppy in a lab. Snuppy’s an excitable sort, and highly vocal, frequently emitting low-pitched moans, while Tai is more laid back. Though he lives in the lab, Snuppy gets out three times a day, his caretakers say. In addition, he makes celebrity appearances now and then.
Snuppy was at the top of my list of things to see in Seoul, being as I went there to research my book on dog cloning. Whatever your opinion is on that topic, and all the other issues it raises, you’ve got to admit that Snuppy is one beautiful dog.
The story of Snuppy, the race to clone a dog and the marketing of the service to the public is told in John Woestendiek’s new book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghan, animals, biotech, book, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, dog, dog inc., dogs, john woestendiek, korea, pets, RNL Bio, seoul national university, snuppy, veterinary