Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man's Best Friend

Overview

What Stiff did for the dead and Fast Food Nation did for the burger, Dog, Inc. does for the stranger-than-fiction world of commercial dog cloning.

It all began with a pit bull named Booger. Former Miss Wyoming Bernann McKinney was so distraught over the death of her dog, whom she regarded as her guardian and savior, that she paid $50,000 to RNL Bio for the chance to bring her beloved companion back to life. The result were five new Boogers-the first successful commercial cloning...

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Overview

What Stiff did for the dead and Fast Food Nation did for the burger, Dog, Inc. does for the stranger-than-fiction world of commercial dog cloning.

It all began with a pit bull named Booger. Former Miss Wyoming Bernann McKinney was so distraught over the death of her dog, whom she regarded as her guardian and savior, that she paid $50,000 to RNL Bio for the chance to bring her beloved companion back to life. The result were five new Boogers-the first successful commercial cloning of a canine- delivered in 2008, along with a slew of compelling questions about the boundaries of science, commerce, and ethics. Blending shocking investigative reporting with colorful anecdotes, Pulitzer Prize-winning John Woestendiek takes readers behind the scenes of this emerging industry.

But Dog, Inc. isn't just a book about pets. Nor is it just a book about science. Rather it's a fascinating look at how our emotional needs are bending the reaches of science and technology, as well as a study of this uncharted territory. With our pet obsession climbing to new heights and our scientific abilities even more so, this combination raises a serious concern: Are we crossing the boundary of controlling science in the name of science, in the name of love, in the name of merchandising-or a blend of all three?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Investigative reporter Woestendiek weaves together bizarrely interesting tales of rich pet owners, Korean and American scientists, ethics, and a petting zoo full of loved animals (including dogs, cats, and a Brahman bull). As readers follow the journeys of pet owners who sought to replace their companion animals with a new but genetically identical generation, they will meet a former beauty queen and kidnapping suspect who defied court custody orders and took her children around the world in order to keep them, and a pair of Korean scientists who finally succeeded in producing the first cloned dogs alongside serious allegations of scientific fraud. Woestendiek turns complex genetics into an interesting study for the layperson in a book that provides scientific background, technology update, and shock value all in one. From explaining the X-inactivation that foiled the results of the first cloned cat to relaying the story of Booger, a stray dog that learned to provide service to his injured mistress, Woestendiek educates as he entertains. Though this effort will particularly interest readers on both sides of the cloning issue, Woestendiek's conversational prose, added to the sometimes astonishing circumstances he uncovered, will entertain a wide audience. (Dec. 30)
Library Journal
This Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Ohmidog.com blogger's book has quite an entertaining cast of characters: Snuppy, the Seoul National University-cloned puppy; the Missyplicity Texas A&M dog-cloning project; Genetic Savings & Clone; the Golden Clone giveaway; and Dolly the sheep and the man who cloned her, Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute. Dogs are proving more challenging to clone than expected, and dog cloning may never be much more than an expensive assisted-reproductive technology. But the ethics of and expectations for animal cloning are well worth examining and deliberating, and Woestendiek has produced an accessible and readable account of its ongoing history and relatively limited successes. VERDICT A valuable contribution illuminating the hubris and futility of trying to replicate dead pets (or people) that will appeal to dog lovers and those interested in cloning and science.—Mary Chitty, Cambridge Healthtech Lib., Needham, MA
Kirkus Reviews

Preposterous Franken-science or groundbreaking technology? A Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter examines the pros and cons of dog cloning in the 21st century.

Woestendiek recognizes that this latest biological advancement edges technology ever closer to human cloning, which may account for the skittish reception animal DNA manipulation has received over the years, not to mention the discouraging failure rate. The author, a Baltimore-based blogger and former newspaperman, explores a range of pet-lover profiles, many of who became infatuated with the notion that man's best friend could be animated, postmortem, through bio-science. After former Miss Wyoming beauty-contest winner Bernann McKinney became embroiled in a sex scandal, she found her haphazard life grounded by her rescue dog, Booger. Two years after Booger's death, McKinney became obsessed with "recapturing love lost." By the end of 2008, she became the proud owner of five genetic replicas. Police officer turned actor James Symington won an essay contest sponsored by California biotech company BioArts and had his dog "Trakr"—who reportedly rescued the last 9/11 survivor—cloned. Philanthropic self-made billionaire John Sperling initiated the "Missyplicity Project" at Texas A&M University, where his $20 million effort to clone a dog produced a hyperactive duplicate that his lover Joan ultimately rejected. Rodeo clown Ralph Fisher had his prized bull Chance cloned, but a violence-prone copy dubbed "Second Chance" never lived up to the original. Neither did Little Nicky, the first cloned cat. Woestendiek adroitly juxtaposes the inherent seriousness of the animal-human connection with the inanity of people who fork over big bucks for pet funerals, taxidermy, mummification and freeze-drying. The author credits custom-cloning, pet-rejuvenation companies like Genetic Savings and Clone (which closed in 2006) with providing a remedy for those who just can't let go.

Thought-provoking and often droll.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583333914
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/30/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter John Woestendiek is a 33-year newspaper veteran. Most recently, he worked as the features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes and produces the popular dog website “ohmidog!” which gets over 1,000 hits a day. Woestendiek has also worked for the Arizona Daily Star, Lexington Herald-Leader, Charlotte Observer, and Philadelphia Inquirer. Last fall he served as the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Montana School of Journalism. In 2003 he was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame. He currently lives in Baltimore with his shelter dog Ace.

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