A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.


By Nina Pajak

As an Upper West Sider who owns a dog, I’m very much attuned to the Kafkaesque and generally weird underground world that is the UWS dog social scene.

Or perhaps it’s less underground and more…adjacent to the “normal” world.

At any rate, we do our best to remain insulated from outsiders and therefore well-deserved judgement, but every so often a story seeps out. It takes something extremely outrageous for this to happen, and here we have it:

I bring you (via the New York Post, of course), The Attack of the (Dog) Clones.

It seems as though a UWS resident, one Gary Rintel, reportedly a writer and “self-described trust-fund layabout,” was so torn up over the death of his Collie-Great Pyrenees mix a while back that he had it cloned. Also, he made a hat out of its fur. You know, everyone mourns differently. Anyway, neighbors claim that he and his synthetic mutts have been terrorizing the neighborhood for years.

Mr. Rintel openly flouts the city’s leash laws, citing reasons have to do with the fact that anyone who insists on tying “a rope” around a dog’s neck doesn’t give a turd about canine happiness. Now, he’s certainly  not the only one who feels comfortable walking around the streets of New York with his dogs free to roam into oncoming traffic, but typically when a person displays this type of laissez-faire attitude with his pets, said pets do not tend to wreak chaos while out for a constitutional. Unfortunately, if one is to believe Mr. Rintel’s neighbors rather than he himself, that is precisely what is happening.

People have reported the cloned beasts attacking and chasing other dogs unprovoked, both in Central Park and on the street, even into buildings. They’ve been accused of biting more than one person, though Mr. Rintel denies at least one of those instances.

Nina and her puppy, Gus

Nina and her puppy, Gus

Now, as the owner of a sweet if slightly disobedient dog—let’s call him strong-willed—I am extremely relieved never to have encountered this roving band of miscreants. Should one of the clones go after Gus, I have no doubt he’d oblige and throw down, which is a nightmarish idea.

However, I object to the way in which everyone has glommed onto the fact that these dogs are vicious because they are clones. Because—and let’s everyone be honest here—if money were no object, wouldn’t we all like to clone our beloved dogs (and cats, and I guess maybe even birds and lizards or hamsters or whatever)? Yeah, we totally would. No dog in the world will ever be able to do this bizarre self-taught tricks my childhood Cocker Spaniel could do . . . unless I had a Jack II created. Oh, what fun we’d have.

Okay, so maybe he’d come out a little “funny,” a little smudgy, a little fuzzy-headed, as is to be expected when one makes a copy, or a copy of a copy (to use an apt reference from the movie, Multiplicity, which I am not ashamed to say I enjoyed). But he’d still be my Jack. And I refuse to believe these dogs are vicious just because they were genetically engineered. Let’s not go giving frivolous pet-cloning a bad name.

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