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Inside the Business of Dog Cloning (vanityfair.com)
65 points by pseudolus 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments



I have a dog, have lost dogs in the past, and understand how sad it is. But man, there are so many dogs in shelters getting killed because of overcrowding that it boggles my mind that people can be so selfishly fixated on their needs that they don't think about the costs of their decisions (suffering of the surrogate dogs, the clones that don't make it, and the disgustingly high monetary costs here).

Life is full of death and sadness, people and animals you care deeply about don't live forever. Being able to deal with grief and continue living your life is an important skill to develop. I'm not sure that grasping to maintain what is ultimately unmaintainable is a healthy way of handling it. The clone won't be the same dog, if anything it's going to make it harder to grieve and move on with your life.


Absolutely, but the concept still has a "neat" factor. I have a mixed breed dog that I adopted from the shelter, picked up as a stray. He'd clearly been abused and was scared of quite a long list of things, including the smell of alcohol. He's really come out of his shell and is now a super cool dog and loves to meet new people. He has a very unique coat and I have a ton of people ask what breed he is.

Producing a clone would not produce the same dog, but it'd be like one of his littermates. It'd be pretty neat to give that roll of the DNA dice another shot, see what kind of dog comes out of it.

The suffering involved in the cloning process is a huge turn off though and makes it a no go for me.


It is incredibly strange. A few years ago, I lost an absolutely beloved dog(black lab) to cancer after owning her for only 4 years...she wasn't even 8 years old.

The most powerful takeaway for me was that in spite of how little time I spent with her, she enriched my life incredibly...it seems so detached from reality to try to artificially extend that experience...


I have two rescues and think it is good if people adopt more of them, but I also thinks it's wrong to shift the moral condemnation to people who want dogs (puppies, clones or whatever) from whoever is abusing these dogs in the first place. I'm not angry when nobody wants to adopt a dog, I'm angry because somebody treated them so poorly in the first place. Owning a dog isn't a human need, so getting one just to treat it like trash -- and have it wind up in a shelter -- is disgusting.

Not to mention rescues can come with a lot of problems, physiologically and psychologically. I can understand why people might shy away.


As a rescue dog owner this article made me wonder how different he could be if I had the chance to raise him with love instead of neglect. Then I realized a clone would look the same but it could be an entirely different dog otherwise.


Yeah, I got wondering the same things. One of our dogs is getting older, and we love her so much. I wouldn't, and couldn't afford to, do something like this, but I can understand why people might.

How different would she end up? There are a lot of mannerisms that seem pretty common to beagles, and then there's some of the weird stuff she does that is unique to her. Would we lose all that? Would it feel weird having a dog that looked just like her but acted different?


Agreed, agreed, agreed. Given that cloning an animal doesn't recreate the personality - same goes for Humans, of course - if you miss your beloved Rex, there's zero guarantee you'll get another Rex if you clone him, which sort of defeats the purpose. And the number of shelter dogs is heart breaking. Give one of them a good home.


Can the same argument be applied to adopting children over biologically conceiving them?


To a certain extent. Certainly some people might have a more rigid stance towards parenting a child that is not theirs from birth compared to this situation.


I’ve been fascinated with this since I first heard about it on NPR about a year ago. I love my dogs almost as much as my human family. In fact, I usually find myself trusting in my dogs more than other people and am that guy you see at the local dog park all the time. Point is I am the kind of person that would do this if I had the money. But i wonder how similar the dog’s personality would be to the one i loved. In some ways, seeing a dog that is identical to one i loved but acting completely different would be harder than dealing with the loss itself imho.

Better to just cherish the life while it’s there.


I appreciate your love for dogs, but don't you think that cloning a dog because of your love for the original is ridiculously self-centered? It's basically creating and imposing life to satisfy one's own emotional needs. It's taking living-thing-as-property to another level.

By the way, I love my dog but kind of struggle with the ethics of simple ownership of a living thing.


How is this different from people who own animal farms and purposefully breed them? Is it just because it's satisfying an emotional need rather an a financial one?


"Better to just cherish the life while it’s there."

Yes!

You cannot really clone a living thing, we can only make something that somewhat has the same DNA, but that is not a copy!


We already have a term for that. It's identical twin. It's similar but not the same.


yes ... so the the term clone is wrong and should be "identical twin" (and since most of them have "defects" maybe not even that)


This is very close to being a real life form of the "PetStuffers" radio ad in Grand Theft Auto [0]!

Highlight:

    Petstuffers: when you just can't let go,
    and coming soon: Grandparents forever!
[0] Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xpZbQsHSHU

[1] Full Transcript + original longer rant I wrote because this $100K to clone your pet thing rubs me the wrong way: https://gist.github.com/jaytaylor/92a52144d1fec39ef41a6fb941...

---

P.S. Does this fall under the category of "it's okay to do creepy shit, as long as you're R$CH"?

Consider these 2 scenarios:

1. Some guy clones his deceased dog in his garage.

Reaction: That sounds creepy

2. Barbra Streisand pays $100,000 to clone her deceased dog.

Reaction: Socially acceptable


I think it's more that it's OK to do creepy shit if you're in a clean, brightly lit, sciencey looking place and you have attractive smiling people advertising your expensive services.

"Rule 1: Be attractive." applies to companies as well as people.


> I think it's more that it's OK to do creepy shit if you're in a clean, brightly lit, sciencey looking place and you have attractive smiling people advertising your expensive services.

I wonder if it is still, though. The spacious, sterile looking, brightly-lit white rooms inhabited by attractive, perfectly dressed and groomed staff have been a synonym to "some sick dystopian shit is going on here" in books and movies for quite some time now.


Fair point, there's a pretty strong association in pop culture between that kind of science-lab-stock-photo type place and morally questionable scientific experiments.


This is in Asia, which doesn't really share the same pop culture tropes. I seriously doubt this would ever fly in the West.


People talk about this because it is a disgusting display of wealth, and morally immature to say the least.

But all technologies like this, meant ultimately for humans, will be tested on animals first.

If we are going to learn and refine cloning on dogs anyway..... they scientists might as well bring back "Captain Fluffles".


True in a sense, but much like dogs, cloning humans seems quixotic as we don't have any shortage of humans, either. Cloning organs and tissues has more potential, granted.


Yeah - but I guess it could help understand things better that may lead to further advances and so on.

Science is so unpredictable that we shouldn't restrict progress just because it feels 'creepy'.


Cloning is perhaps less alarming than some of the regular practices of dog breeding, which produce breeds with chronic respiratory or joint problems.


What about the surrogate dog "mothers"? I imagine that role is a pretty disgusting one to ponder.

With a mortality rate as low as 66% for a full litter, one has to wonder how realistic our dreams of human cloning really are.


> With a mortality rate as low as 66% for a full litter (...)

Is that because of technological limitations, or simply because they don't care if the mother survives?


The Chinese have cloned a monkey. I am wondering who will be the first to clone human. Maybe the Chinese have already done it but are keeping quiet about it. Its a Brave new world.


Keeping it quiet might be a thing given the moral outrage this would trigger.

The main obstacles here are access to donor eggs and surrogate mothers willing to carry. This may already have happened. Additionally, failure rates acceptable with dogs and livestock are going to cause moral outrage. Though if you look at IVF, the success rates there are not great and it is considered acceptable anyway. Never mind the discarded embryos, miscarriages, etc. Many couples try for years before succeeding.

Ongoing progress might make a few of these things easier. E.g. producing egg cells from normal cells might become feasible. Also there is some progress with artificial wombs. Add to that improvements to gene manipulation and you are looking at industrial scale production of clones of all sorts of species. I see this more as a question of when than if. Human cloning is inevitable.

The main obstacles for this are entirely non technical. There are enough religious and political constraints that this will have to happen under the radar and in less strict countries for a while. Barbara Streisand cloning her dogs sort of moves us toward that though.

Puppies are cute and so what if they were cloned? Are human babies so different? You can bet that there are some dictators, billionairs, etc. out there that would love to have a "mini me". It's the ultimate in narcissism and hedonism. Trump might be interested, just saying ;-). He's insensitive enough to not give a F* what everybody else things. This baby is going to be great. I will be the best child ever!


Why is cloning more narcissistic than regular procreation? We produce half-clones already, this is just adding the other half.


I would like to clone my dog but I am waiting for the price to drop.


I love my dog, but a clone would not be the same dog, with the experiences that make her the way she is.

I cannot think about dog cloning without remembering Fry's speech upon throwing the fossilized remains of his faithful Seymour into the lava beneath Planet Express, and it tears me up everytime.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic_Bark


I cried the first time I watched that. Futurama has many episodes like Jurassic Bark that hit an emotional nerve, but the incredible thing is that most of them were written by different writers (Eric Kaplan, Ron Weiner, Ken Keeler, Eric Horsted, Michael Rowe, etc).




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