In a frank and lengthy interview in Variety this week, Barbra Streisand dropped one very notable aside: that two of her dogs were clones of a previous dog, Samantha, who had recently died. Here, Streisand explains how this medical marvel, born of sadness, came to pass.
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. And we sent those cells to ViaGen Pets in Texas. We weren’t even sure if the cells would take.
Meanwhile I missed Sammie so much that I went out and adopted a rescue dog. She was a little Maltipoo and I named her Sadie, after the first dog I ever owned, given to me by the cast of “Funny Girl” on my 22nd birthday.
Then I got a call from Sammie’s breeder, who said, “I know how upset you are. If you’re interested, I have this little puppy, the only one in the litter, and her mother’s name is Funny Girl.” It felt like fate, as if it was meant to be. How could I refuse that little girl? So I took her, too, and named her Miss Fanny.
She’s a straight-haired Coton de Tulear, like most people want. My Sammie was curly haired and that’s why my husband initially picked her out for me as an anniversary present — she was the odd one, different, just like I felt as a little girl. One of the reasons I chose cloning was because I couldn’t find another curly-haired Coton.
And then I got a call from the lab. Not only did the cloning process take, but it produced four puppies! Unfortunately the runt of the litter died before the puppies were old enough to be delivered to me.
But still, five dogs were too much for me to handle, as a person who was used to taking my dog everywhere with me, and who never had more than one dog at a time living in my house.
My manager’s assistant really wanted Sadie, and I knew she would give her a good home. And then the 13-year-old daughter of my A&R man bonded with one of the clones, so I gave them that puppy. It was hard to part with both dogs, but since they were going to close friends I knew I could keep each dog in the family, so to speak, and I can still watch over them as they grow.
So now I have three puppies at home, Miss Fanny, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett, and it’s a bit overwhelming. But we love them so much. Each puppy is unique and has her own personality.
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.
New York Times