Tuesday, September 22, 2009


We have all had or have now what we call our “heart dog.” You know the one that I’m talking about. He’s the one that means the most to you. He’s the one who goes everywhere with you. He sleeps in your bed. He’s the one for some reason that you spoil the most. There’s just something so special about this dog. It’s called chemistry between the owner and the dog. Unfortunately our canine companions don’t live very long and if it’s a German Shepherd that could mean anywhere between 9 – 14 years. To many people, these “heart dogs” are like their children and are a huge part of their family unit. So what happens when this “heart dog” leaves us to go to the rainbow bridge?

We all mourn the loss of our beloved dogs, but when it’s a heart dog; the loss can go deeper and last a very long time. Some people actually grow sick over it. Buying or breeding a replacement for this dog is out of the question because no matter how you try, the new dog will be just that…..a replacement, but will never be the exact dog that you just lost. In order to get a “duplicate” of the heart dog, some people have turned to the idea of cloning their dog. Recently a couple cloned their Golden Labrador and paid a hefty price of $155,000 to do it! They said it was well worth it to be reunited with a clone of their beloved dog. It didn’t hurt that they were very wealthy people and the exuberant price tag didn’t put them in the poor house!

Canines are a very hard species of mammals to clone because of their reproduction cycle that includes difficult to predict ovulation. Previous cloning methods didn’t have as much success rate. Many times the embryos will be implanted into as much as five surrogates. In one case this only produced two puppies from one of the mothers.

Common sense would dictate to us that no matter how much the DNA were the same with your new cloned puppy, his personality will be different from the “heart dog.” I’m afraid when you are dealing with peoples emotions, common sense sometimes will take a back seat. So in reality you will have a dog that may look just like Spike but this is not Spike. What made Spike so different from the rest was his personality. This is what made him shine. It was this dog’s uniqueness that was the essence of this dog’s character. This isn’t something that can be cloned. A dog’s personality is formed by his environment along with his genetics. So we know the cloned dog already will have a certain percentage for a genetic predisposition for Spikes temperament, but what happens to him in his life and in his environment will account for the other percent. Another thing people should consider is that Spike carries all his ancestor’s temperament traits in his DNA. Perhaps, this time his great grandfather’s disposition might come through instead. A risky way to spend your life savings!

Many a pet owner who has a heart dog has already had the dog neutered so breeding him to keep one of his pups is out of the question. They can go back to the breeder, but the exact carbon copy of Spike will not be attainable. Even when a dog is cloned, you might not get the exact copy. Oh he’ll look almost identical, but his pigment shade could be a little off or he might not have the few white strands of hair on his chest that Spike had.

Besides one’s moral beliefs, there are those who also consider the welfare of the lab animals that are used for this experiment. Not much is known about these dogs and the care and treatment that they receive. Many of these procedures are done in Korea. One wonders about the inhumane confinement, invasive artificial insemination techniques, C-sections, birth defects and high mortality rates. Many times the labs use up to 8 dogs for one clone. Four will supply the ova, and four will act as surrogates. For every four embryo transfers that they do, they get a clone.

The future looks bright. In about three years or so, if you can’t afford the now “over the top” price of $155,000 to clone your dog, don’t fret. The price should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000! Not bad. If you wait, you could save yourself over $100,000! Maybe if you’ve waited that long, you would have mourned the loss of Spike and moved on and bought yourself another $800 puppy!

What about you.......if you could afford it, would you clone a much missed and beloved dog? I know a few of my own that I would love to have with me again.

My ratings: my feelings about cloning: (1), success rate: (3), expense: (1), satisfaction for those who have a clone: (4)

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