Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fido and Fideux

Do you want someone who thinks you're perfect just the way you are, and will love you without condition or reserve, in sickness and in health, in petulance and in affability? Of course you do. And if you have an extra $50,000 lying around the house near a nice dog, you can have it forever and ever. That's what it costs to get your dog copied and shipped so you can take that guesswork out of finding your new best friend. Yes, you too can thumb your nose at death and loneliness and get a whole new fifteen years of picking up poop through the simplicity of cloning.

Everyone remembers that first clone, Dolly the sheep. Sheep were considered ideal subjects for cloning because no one could tell them apart anyway. But Dolly was merely the first animal cloned from a body cell. The first animal cloned at all was a sea urchin. Hans Dreisch did it in 1885, presumably after having developed quite a fondness for a particular urchin. He shook an urchin embryo until its cells came unglued and discovered that the loose cells became identical urchins. He was delighted. The other biologists talked about him behind his back.

In 1902, Han Spemann continued the work with the altogether more laudable Salamander. He was able to separate its embryonic cells by teasing them apart with a loop of baby hair. He made identical salamanders up to a certain point of embryonic development, after which his cells just produced half-embryos, resulting in salamanders that paddled around in circles all their lives. There is today no market for cloned pet salamanders, because all salamander lovers know each one is just as wonderful as the next.

The first pet cloned was a cat, through the auspices of an outfit called Genetic Savings and Clone. Cats come cheaper. I could have gotten a whole new (Saint) Larry for a paltry 25 grand. I'm not inclined to, though. I know I can do just fine by selecting a short-haired tortoiseshell kitten the next time I'm bereft, even it if arrived the old-fashioned way, through cat lust. Tortoiseshell kitties are the very very best. I know this from the 100% satisfaction rating I got using my scientifically unimpeachable sample size of One. I most certainly was looking for a tortoiseshell the last time I went to the Humane Society, after Larry had been gone a year, but there weren't any that day, and my need for an immediate cat overcame my inclination to wait for a speckly one, and that's how Tater ensued. Tater wasn't the first one I played with but she was the only one with any personality, and my streak of picking funny and affectionate cats is unbroken: Tater is one fine bundle of furry pudding. Unfortunately her adoration is almost completely directed toward Dave. She'll give me the time of day but it's Dave that lights her up. I have to go down the street now to be greeted properly by a cat, a small torty named Millie who is willing to take a good rumpling and whose owner is no longer alarmed by me.

There's only one explanation for the price discrepancy between getting a dog cloned and a cat cloned, and it's not the one the company provides. The company says the entire operation is expensive because they have the very best equipment and the very finest staff with the very stoutest salaries, but it's got to be the same equipment they're using for the $15,000 cloned cow. Presumably the cat is less expensive because surrogate mommy cats go into heat more often than dogs do. So they're charging twice as much just to make you wait around until the bitch gets frisky? I don't think so. I think it's a matter of demand. I think they know dog people are just that much more nuts. A cat person that nuts just accumulates a bunch more cats.

Low-tech clone
There's no guarantee though. What if you buy your cloned dog and it's everything your old dog was, except enamored of you? What if it likes your spouse better? As long as it doesn't  have horns and an extra tail, you're not getting a refund.

Plus, you're not the same person you were fifteen years ago when you got your best dog. You've completely forgotten what a pain in the ass your best dog was as a puppy, and you're fifteen years crankier about dealing with it.

Many people suggest that this whole project is a waste of fifty grand when you could buy a bazillion mosquito nets for Africans with the same money, but that's a strained argument. You wouldn't have done that anyway.

20 comments:

  1. The people who would spend this absurd amount of money for a cloned animal overlook (or never learned) one important detail: genetics accounts for only a very small part of someone's "personality". As you say, you are not the same person you were when you raised the initial animal. You would do things differently, maybe coddle the animal more than you did before -- especially having spent so much money on it. Unless you raised it exactly the same way, it would have a completely different personality.

    I shudder to think what would be the result if certain orange-american leaders decided they were so special that they must be cloned. The future does not need more of him. God knows, neither does the present.

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    1. I think you'd be money ahead to just have your previous pet stuffed and put on the mantel. Which, by the way, I have seen.

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    3. Oh man, you're right--it did, didn't it?

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  2. What is wrong with getting a whole new pet with a different personality? I think you would have less patience with a clone, plus you are a bit of an idiot because of how you spend your money.

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    1. Like, say, a hamster. No one clones hamsters.

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  3. Forgot to give you an A+ on that low cost clone.

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    1. I don't think I said that, but I should've.

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  4. As a multiple cat household with all but one as a rescue I can't imagine needing to clone one. I will always love that Tater and Dave pic.

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  5. When Tater and Dave have both shuffle off their coils (mortal) you could have a stuffed ornament, too.Probably need something a little broader than the average mantle...

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  6. A person could probably guess my views on cloning just by knowing I strongly object to even the regular kind of breeding and selling of pets. There are so many potential pets out there just waiting for a good home. There is an endless supply of loyal dogs, and of cats who are willing to make us their slaves. We will never run out. Ever.

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    1. Amen, sister. Spending a lot of money on an animal from a breeder is wasted when there are so many pets needing homes. The argument that when you get a certain breed you know what you're getting is hogwash. Dogwash? Whatever. At any rate, there are plenty of rescue agencies that specialize in a breed if that's what you want. I know, I'm preaching to the choir here.

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  7. I could offer you a selection of cats just from my back yard. You can have any of them. Their people aren't watching.

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  8. I just read a real twisty mystery with animal cloning at its heart...it did not end well. I just adopted a lost or abandoned cat nobody chipped--too many people don't watch...

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    1. There's something deeply sad and doomed about cloning your best friend. You know it won't end well.

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  9. I don't think I'd ever clone a pet, even if I could afford to. I don't think my feelings would be the same, knowing that the copy is just that. A copy, no matter how real, is not an original.

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    1. Just my luck I'd get a perfect copy with a mutation for diarrhea.

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