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
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.