Saturday, April 9, 2016

Let the dog be who he is.

I love dogs.

Even despite the memes that all-too-accurately reflect the trials of life with dogs.

I still think they're pretty great.

Especially my guy, Tralfaz.

But I was disgusted by the news that billionaire couple Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg cloned their dead dog through a South Korean firm.

There was a lot of disgust about the Internet over this, a lot of it centered on the fact that there are so many dogs in shelters that need homes, and yet this hugely wealthy couple had to use weird science to duplicate a dog instead of taking an existing one. I think that these objectors have a point, but that it doesn't adequately sum up why cloning a pet (let alone a person) is a deeply revolting act.

The Dillers may say that this is just like getting a twin, even a littermate, of their deceased companion animal, but we know it's not. "We loved Mary-Kate so much that we made Ashley!" gets closer to the heart of the matter. Twins may happen naturally, or even accidentally with reproductive medicine, but clones take a huge amount of effort. The Dillers may say they act out of love, but if you love someone, why would you want to steal the one earthly thing that is purely their own -- their uniqueness?

Identical twins are genetically alike but not the same; cloning a pet is intended to make another creature that IS exactly the same as the original. No one drops 100 grand to make a dog that just looks like their old dog. They want the old dead dog back again. And since they, unlike Jesus, cannot raise the dead, they seek to multiply it. It will be worse when they start to use genetic engineering to try to improve it.

I've got the best dog in the world, even with all the pee trips in the freezing cold and rain, the teenager-like ignoring of his master's commands outside, the poorly timed and toddler-like demands for attention inside, the mud, the weird phobias, the bolting toward passersby and other dogs... But he's a good guy, so full of love and enthusiasm. I would not take away his bad traits, because they belong to him. I try to discourage them, but he makes the choice. I love it all because it is part of him. I would not design his personality with science, nor would I want to try to duplicate it in another dog -- let that dog's personality be its own.

I hope the Dillers realize they have wasted money, but I doubt they will admit it if they do.

Scientists have been screwing around with cloning on kiwifruit and other plants since the 90's. Stick with the plants; leave the pets be who they are.

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