I raised Nikka from birth when her mother rejected her. I had to constantly look after her those first few weeks and every second spent worrying about her tied my heart to her tighter and tighter. Nikka is the only family I’ve had since I was a little girl. She was my only source of love and affection and the only outlet for mine for 15 years. She traveled all across North America with me, always by my side. My life wasn’t *my* life, it was mine and Nikka’s.
People didn’t invite me places, they invited me and Nikka. She made my life so much better, she gave me a reason to keep going most days. This little chihuahua protected me from bears while camping and other, more vicious, predators while walking at night. When I had a human child, I thought I would love my child more and Nikka less, but it never felt like that. The love I have for her feels the same as my love for my son. So her loss has been as devastating as I imagine losing my child would be. Life will never be the same without her. But the knowledge that I will soon have her twin, or her nearly identical daughter, a piece of her, does so much to assuage my grief and pain.
I first heard about cloning when they cloned the first dog in Korea and I promised Nikka right then that I would have her cloned. It seemed to be an unobtainable pipe dream, meant only for the mega-rich and celebrities, but it also seemed so far away back then, I wouldn’t have to worry about it for a long time. Over the years following, it slipped to the back of my mind and I almost forgot. Then Nikka died unexpectedly and I was in such a daze of trauma and pain that I took her straight to the pet mortuary to be cremated.
Luckily it was before a holiday so they put her in a freezer. Over the next two days I remembered my promise to clone her but didn’t know it had become available in the states, I also didn’t know that freezing could potentially destroy the viability of tissues samples. As I was googling through my tears I came across ViaGen Pets and called them, blubbering hysterically I’m sure, and they so kindly and patiently walked me through the process (multiple times) of collecting a sample and sending it off to them. I had 5 hours to get it done. My vet would not collect the sample for me so I had to do it all myself, which was incredibly traumatic, but not as traumatic as losing this chance would have been. The staff on the phone warned me my chances with a frozen sample could be slim, so the next 3 weeks were spent in constant anxious agony.
Today, I got the incredible news that they successfully obtained viable cells to be cryopreserved. This has given me so much hope, and lifted so much grief from my heart.
I think pet cloning is a wonderful scientific innovation. It’s not for everyone, so I think all the pets out there who need homes, aren’t losing them to clones. If I couldn’t clone Nikka I would never get another pet. It would feel like betrayal and I just couldn’t face the loss again. But having her twin doesn’t feel the same as getting a new dog. And knowing she will be with us soon makes me more open to the possibility of adopting a little dog in need, to be her friend. Because I would never recommend having an elderly dog by itself, when they go it’s just too painful, you need a floof to cuddle with for comfort, who misses them too.
I’m keeping my promise to my best friend, with ViaGen’s help, and it means the world to me and my little boy. He can’t wait for the day when “The scientists grow us a new Nikka from her ears”.
Thank you ViaGen, and thank you Melain, so very much.