I’ve been really noticing Tessa’s age. That seems like a funny thing to say, about a dog who’s almost fourteen years old, but up until the last year or so, she’s seemed like the same old Tessa – a little slower, maybe, a little dimmer, but still Tessa.
Lately, though, she hasn’t been herself. She’s confused. She doesn’t seem to know where she is, or why she’s there. She goes outside, stands there confused, and then comes back inside, repeating the procedure all over again ten minutes later. She gets scared if she can’t see me, even if it’s just because her back is to me. I have to reach over and pat her, and let her know that I’m there.
She’s still Tessa – she’ll still growl at the young dogs, chase Petal across the deck, and play tug with her toys – but some of the spark is leaving her.
Tessa in her youth was, as a friend once said, “A fierce wee doggie”. She had fire in her eyes, and she feared nothing. She was perky and playful and fast! Oh, she could run like the wind. Her best friend was an Italian Greyhound named “Sparks”, and while she couldn’t keep up with him on the long stretch, on the short they could run neck and neck. It was lovely to see. She had a black mask that gave her the look of a januty trouble maker – she had mischief in her face. Her mask is gone, now, blended into the whiteness of her face. Sean says she looks ‘sweeter’ now, and she does, but sweet isn’t how I remember her, from her younger days.
What would I do, to keep Tessa with me? Another Tessa, young and fierce and black masked and tough? Would I sell my house? Maybe. Would I travel around the world? Probably. If I had deep enough pockets, deep enough that $150,000 was no barrier, would I clone her?
Oh yes. Yes and yes.
I know all the reasons why not to do it. I’ve read the snide, mean toned, nasty little emails and blog entries about that ‘stupid woman who sold her house to clone a Pit Bull’. And have you noticed that the part that seems to annoy people the most is that is was a Pit Bull she cloned? As I read on one blog “Doesn’t the world have enough vicious Pit Bulls?”. I guess not – although it seems to be filled to the brim with stupid people who write witless blogs about dogs they don’t even know.
Oh, how angry people are, at the ‘waste’ of this woman’s money. “She could have rescued 50,000 Pit Bulls for that money!”, people have bitterly complained. When Tessa was sick last year, when she couldn’t move her head, or stand up properly without falling over, I took her to vet after vet, none of whom could tell me what was wrong with her, in spite of all the tests and the diagnostics. I guess the bill was pretty high, for a 13 year old dog – something close to $3,000 when all was said and done.
I could have rescued a lot of French Bulldogs for that amount of money.
Are these new dogs, these clones, going to be ‘Booger’, the dog that Bernann McKinney had cloned? I don’t know. I believe that a dog, like a person, is the sum result of their life – how they were raised, who they were raised with, who you were at the time you raised them.
But did you see her face? The look on her face? That was joy, and hope. It’s easy to mock her for that hope, for that joy. For wasting money and being ‘stupid’ and doing it all for a Pit Bull. A Pit Bull!
But have you ever really loved a dog? Really? The kind that tears you in half if you think about walking through the world without them? The kind that makes it impossible for you to imagine the hole they leave behind? If you do, if you have – then I dare you to deny that woman her hope, and to tell her she’s a fool.
If she’s a fool, then all of us who’ve ever hoped for a dog to come back, to stay with us forever – we’re fools, too.
Five Pit Bulls Cloned in South Korea
Bernann McKinney says her beloved pit bull “Booger” saved her life when another dog attacked her, then learned to push her wheelchair while she recovered from a severe hand injury and nerve damage.
He died in 2006, but now he’s back – at least in clone form, after the birth last week of puppies replicated by a South Korean company.
“Yes, I know you! You know me too!” McKinney cried joyfully Tuesday, hugging the puppy clones as they slept with one of their two surrogate mothers, both Korean mixed breed dogs, in a Seoul laboratory. “It’s a miracle.”
The five clones were created by Seoul-based RNL Bio in cooperation with a team of Seoul National University scientists who in 2005 created the world’s first cloned dog, a male Afghan hound named Snuppy.
It is headed by Lee Byeong-chun, a former colleague of disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, whose purported breakthroughs in stem cell research were revealed as fake. Independent tests, however, proved the team’s dog cloning was genuine.
Lee’s team has since cloned some 30 dogs and five wolves, but claims Booger’s clones, for which McKinney paid $50,000, are the first successful commercial cloning of a canine.
The rest is here, in case you haven’t read it twenty times already.