In a recent Variety profile, Barbra Streisand revealed that two of her three Coton de Tulear dogs are clones of her deceased canine companion, Samantha. Yesterday, in a piece published by The New York Times, Babs explained her decision. She writes:
I was so devastated by the loss of my dear Samantha, after 14 years together, that I just wanted to keep her with me in some way. It was easier to let Sammie go if I knew I could keep some part of her alive, something that came from her DNA. A friend had cloned his beloved dog, and I was very impressed with that dog. So Sammie’s doctor took some cells from inside her cheek and the skin on her tummy just before she died.
Streisand’s plan was to create a single clone of her deceased dog, but, she writes, the cloning process yielded four puppies — one of which died, and another that she gave to a colleague’s daughter. While waiting for her cloned dogs, Streisand went out and adopted a rescue dog, which she says she then gave away to a different colleague’s assistant. She also went out and purchased another Coton de Tulear from the breeder she’d bought her original Coton from. That’s six dogs in total — three for Babs, plus with two dogs she gave away and one that died shortly after science brought it into the world.
On the surface, it’s understandable why Streisand would want to clone Samantha the dog. We love what we love, and we don’t want to let go when they die. If you’ve got a bunch of money sitting around, why wouldn’t you do whatever you could to get them back?
Barbra Streisand should be able to clone her dog if she wants to, but as a dog owner, I feel like cloning a dog only sets a person up for disappointment. Animals are living beings, not products, and no matter how genetically similar Streisand’s clones might be to her original dog, the relationship she had with that first dog can’t be replicated. Who we are when we bring a pet into our lives shapes how that pet reacts to us, and how our pets treat us can in turn shape who we are. When we get a new pet, our relationship with them is going to be fundamentally different simply because we’re not the same person we were when that original animal came into our life. Streisand seems to understand this, writing, “You can clone the look of a dog, but you can’t clone the soul. Still, every time I look at their faces, I think of my Samantha… and smile.”
Besides, there’s a lot of dogs out there who need homes. According to ASPCA statistics, American animal shelters take in roughly 3.3 million dogs per year. Of that 3.3 million, approximately 620,000 are returned to their owners, while about 1.6 million get adopted. That’s a surplus of almost 1.1 million adoptable, very cute and good dogs! So like, maybe Barbra Streisand should have just kept that dog she adopted and then adopted two more? Just something to think about.