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Can you teach a cloned dog new tricks?

One of the "blessings" of television is that as a news source we are being exposed to a great deal of information, much of which we could do without.

Sixty Minutes is supposed to be sort of a hard-hitting expose of various subjects. Sunday, the 17th they did a segment on who is happy. Or what does it take to be happy. To my amazement they interviewed some young Danes. (Now I know a lot about Danes since my parents were Danes and I have had enough exposure to the young ones who come to America to visit.) Anyway, these do-nothing, college-level students were found to be the happiest. They are stress free, in their opinion, because they have such low expectations. The term "moocher" comes to mind.

Not expecting much of life is surely going to be less stressful than trying to make something of yourself. And besides, there is always some government money available for a vast variety of life’s problems. So that finding left me wondering once more about where we are going. I have a fair idea of where the younger Danes are going.

Then yesterday the President’s trip to Africa was covered partly to find out what he was doing on the Dark Continent and partly to find out what he thought about the latest development in the race between Hilary and Barack. The thrust of the trip was what we as taxpayers are doing to help the AIDs epidemic. What really corked me was that I learned I am providing condoms for use (hopefully) by some over-sexed Africans. Maybe we would be better off not knowing where our tax dollars are being used. What kind of foreign policy is ensuring safe sex among foreigners? Strikes me as being a bit more than we Americans should bear.

And then this morning there is Breaking News. For $150,000 the Koreans will clone your dog. The idea is that you can have the same dog (multiple dog lives equals one human life) all your life. There is a message of some sort in the idea you can have the same dog all your life but you are free to dump your spouse when you don’t get along. There was one catch and that is while they will guarantee the same physical characteristics they can’t or won’t guarantee the same personality! The new saw will be "you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but you can teach a new dog old tricks." (Remember, comparisons are odious.)

While on that subject I can easily imagine that the "same" dog over an extended period will lead to celebrating anniversaries, names with roman numerals ( Spot II, Rover IV or perhaps Blackie Jr and Blackie Sr): and scheduled replacements. And is it poor taste to engineer number two or number three before number one is gone? Your local vet may be able to furnish you with a DNA bank including self-addressed envelopes. How about post-dated checks to ensure no vacant periods?

Can you imagine how embarrassing it will be to take a saliva sample when Rover III is not feeling too well? That is bound to give a dear pet the wrong idea. Then maybe we could engineer some behavior modifications in Junior. Of course, there will be some complaints from the animal photographers when all the pooches look alike. Be sure to save the negative from the first one so you can make reprints with ease. You can assume all you friends will want to know what you feed your pet because he or she seems to never age. And on and on. Also, who is your dentist, pedicurist, walker and groomer?

It is logical to ask if "they" are going to clone cats. There was no mention in the news flash about our feline friends. Since the Chinese manage to copy everything anyone else does well and not so well, I imagine they will do the right thing for all the cat lovers. Seems only fair. Of course, there were some cats in my past that never were missed. But if they can’t include the cat’s personality in the DNA, what’s the point? The cats I had that I truly missed were the ones with an attitude. Anything less is just another fur ball.

Lest you think everything is moving downhill like an Al Gore glacier, take some cheer in the news from up north. The National Post, in an editorial, laments that the Canadians should have a government like ours - where there is compromise. They seem to believe that Nancy and the Senator from Nevada can be bipartisan. That is an interesting observation which means we may not be looking at the same politicians they are. They seem to think our elected officials work together. Good news that some observers outside our borders think well of our system. Just one of those blessings that never made the front page.

And then I get an e-mail showing a couple and how they treat "their" pet moose. Watching the TV together makes a lot of sense. It’s getting in bed with the young moose that throws me. Why would you do that? Perhaps it is a Fish and Game program for moose that have been orphaned or have no one else to play with. What’s the poor creature going to think when someone lets fly an arrow or two or, worse yet, opens up with his custom Weatherby?

I guess the young Danes may be on to something. Don’t expect too much of your fellow man and you will never be disappointed.

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Paul Rechnitzer Paul Rechnitzer Transplanted 30 years ago, Paul is a retiree from the oil business who knows no other place he would rather live and breathe local history.

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