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.