May 24, 2012

No, I Won't Clone My Pet...

I love my dog and step-dog, and we pamper them endlessly. They are well taken care of and much loved, with toys, treats, daycare, loving family, long walks, and lots of hugs. My husband teases me about Alfie being the love of my life. And it's likely true. Still there are limits, and if I didn't know that before, I sure do now.

This week we watched a show called I Cloned My Pet on TLC. This show was intriguing and yes it was totally disturbing. The show features pet lovers who have lost their dogs and then spend from $50,000 to more than $150,000 to bring them back; they go through Korean doctors who take DNA from the dog, create a cloned embryo, do their voodoo, and insert it into a surrogate, who gives birth normally to the clone of the lost dog. Or two clones. Or three...

Is the second generation dog really the same dog? Some say yes, some say no. Based on the show, the clone has a similar but not the exact same personality. Seems more like a cousin through chemistry than the same dog.

This is clearly about love, I get that. I feel for these people -- the woman who lost her dog Kabuki to cancer, the man who lost his Chihuahua Bob to a Rottweiler attack. Either of those would break my heart. Hell, I sat in the car and cried when Alfred was having eye surgery. I see and I get people struggling and spending big money on treatments for a cancer-sticken pet because their pets are family. You do what you can, and then at some point it is time to say goodbye.

While the show was interesting and touching, it did not touch on the real controversial aspects of cloning in terms of ethics. Since Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1997 this has been a hot-button issue, and while I see the research potential, for a pet, this seems ethically questionable and economically irresponsible. For the couple who spent $155,000 to clone their golden retriever, I can't help but think they could have bought a purebred golden puppy who would have been a total joy to them, and they also could have saved hundreds of doggie lives in a shelter.

Dogs bring happiness. And if these people or anyone else wants a dog, there are lots of dogs out there in shelters who need homes. Or go through a reputable breeder if you have really specific wants in a dog. We will follow one of these options; our dogs are aged 5 and 12, and there will be more dogs in our future.

I love our dogs and hope they live a long time. But when they are gone, they are gone. And this is not about just about pets. If I go before my husband, he won't clone me. He will miss me, but he won't clone me. He will enjoy the quiet in the house, and the (alleged) lack of cereal crumbs on the counter... and he won't clone me.