• dustindriver

Can you clone your dog?

Barbra Streisand cloned her favorite dog and things didn’t turn out as expected. Why? And How? And, most importantly, Whuuuuuuuut?

First, Streisand revealed in a recent interview with Variety Magazine that she had her recently deceased dog Samantha cloned—twice. Well, she had two clones made. According to the world-renown singer, the dogs have different personalities than Samantha and aren’t exactly identical to her, either.

What’s going on here? Is this real? Are we living in some bizarre future filled with cloned and designer pets? If you have Streisand cash, yes. For about $100k, companies like Sooam Biotech in South Korea and ViaGen in Texas will clone your pet. Or, if you have an advanced genetic and medical laboratory in your garage, you can do it yourself.

First, collect a tissue sample from your donor dog. Epithelial cells from inside the dog’s cheek may work, or from its stomach lining. Then find a surrogate dog to carry the clone puppies. Take a few egg cells from the surrogate dog, remove the cell nuclei, and replace them with nuclei from the original dog. With any luck, the egg cells will start to divide and you can implant them into the surrogate dog. It’s a lot like in vitro fertilization, but you’re using cells from the dog you want to clone.

No, you can’t really clone a dog in your garage. And if you could, I’m sure the health department would have something to say about it. But that’s how the process works, basically, and after that you get clone puppies.

Those puppies aren’t exactly like the donor dog, though. They may have the same genes, but they won’t look or act the same. Streisand found out with her two clone dogs, who have different personalities than the original. Why? Environmental factors play a big role in determining personality. Where the dog is raised, what it eats growing up, and who it interacts with all can change its personality. And environment can also change how certain genes are expressed. Everything from eye color to coat markings could differ from the original.

Clone dogs do appear to be healthy, however. The first one was decanted Korea in 2005 and lived a normal, healthy life. Other clone dogs also appear to be relatively healthy.

But the question remains, why would you want to clone your dog if it won’t have the same personality or even look the same? I mean, this calls into question the entire concept of cloning your family pet to begin with. But who am I to judge?

It’s more interesting that the dogs are different. Scientists know that there’s a strong genetic component to personality and intelligence, but they can’t say for certain what role environment plays. These dog clones show that nurture can have a big effect on nature, which is pretty cool. It’s also an illustration of how quickly life can adapt to changing environments. Finally, it shows that even though clones and twins are remarkably similar, they’re definitely not the same.

If you want to learn more about cloning dogs, take a look at the show notes—I stuck some great links in there. If you want to waste a few hours listening to random dog sounds, head over to freesound.org—the site has a wonderful and seemingly endless collection of pet noises that are free to download and use in your own projects.

Lastly, don’t clone your dog in your garage. Seriously, leave it to the professionals. Or better yet, adopt from your local shelter.

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