Have you ever thought of xeroxing a dog?
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Last night, I was looking through a box of old photographs of my mother ’s and made a discovery I had been overlooking for years. As I sorted through the old, pale green J.C. Penney’s shoebox of black and white snapshots of our family made over the years, I noticed that many of the photos of me were made with a dog somewhere in the background.

There was a photograph of me on my tricycle with Buttons our Boston terrier at my side. There were dozens of pictures of yours truly with my dad’s coonhounds. Even if I was photographed playing ball, you could usually see some kind of dog in the background. I had never realized how dogs had played an important part of my years of growing up. As I think back, there was always a dog somewhere in the yard for a farm boy like me to wrestle, play ball or just take a walk with in the woods. Dogs and puppies were just a part of my life back then as a kid.

I still enjoy dogs, however the number that I call my own has fallen drastically since I have become an adult. My last one was Sally, a Dalmatian, which was just as important as all of those dogs I had as a kid. I rescued her from the local shelter, and she always kept trying to repay me for her freedom by being a good friend and asking for nothing in return, no matter what. I lost Sally a couple years ago due to old age and am once again checking out the shelters to find another faithful friend.

The animal shelters across this state are full of animals not wanted, or formerly mistreated, just looking for someone to come and give them a home. It is a great place to make a friend. Plus, all the local shelters could use your help and financial support as well. All those dogs and cats still require food, which does cost money. I would suggest you give locally and avoid sending your money to a national animal fund that takes their cut and in most cases will never send the money to a local shelter.

With the introduction of Dolly the cloned sheep a few years back, the term “cloning” became a much- discussed topic in the news. We did a lot of research in cloning in agriculture and still find the process being used in some areas today.

Whether you are for it or against it, cloning is a new field of research that will be around for continued study for sometime. In the industry of agriculture, it is a process being studied to improve animal health, livestock production and a way to lower consumer cost. It may also be a source to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production and to reduce diseases in food-producing animals.

We are finding that the South Koreans are now cloning dogs as an industry, with some costing as much as $50,000 each. Maybe they need more dogs over there, but I do question if that is something we really need. Being a dog person from birth, with the photos to prove it, I am not all that keen on dog clones.

However (I bet it scares you when I use the word “however”), I do question the use of cloning in certain areas. I came out against cat cloning in 2003 and I will have to say the idea of cloned dogs probably will not get my vote.

Just why do we need to clone dogs? I thought they were doing a pretty good job themselves of making copies of each other without us getting in on the act. We have animal support groups giving away free neutering and spaying while scientists try to clone even more. There seems to be something wrong with this picture.

I’m just glad all the dogs we have had over the years have been originals. Something about owning a copy just doesn’t seem right. I don’t even have to have a purebred when it comes to dogs, but I sure don’t want a copy. It would be hard to love a dog that was Xeroxed.

Pettus L. Read is editor of Tennessee Home & Farm magazine and Tennessee Farm Bureau News.

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