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Friends to the End

When we love animals, we often have to leave them. Or rather: they leave us. Most animals have life-spans much shorter than ours and unless you an elephant or a giant tortoise as a pet, you’ll regularly have to say goodbye. But it’s inevitable, as we approach the end of our own lives, that the time we’ve got left will be less than the time that our pets have got left.

In short, our last pets will outlive us. Naturally enough, many of us worry about this. What will happen to our pets when we’re gone? Maybe someone has promised to take them in and look after them, but how can we be sure that everything will go well? That’s why many people are careful to make provision for their pets in their wills. It can also be part of a funeral plan – Safe Hands Plans can offer the assurance that our pets will be looked after when we pass away.

It can be a big weight off the mind, because pets never stop being dependant on care and attention. Thankfully, it’s rare in the modern age for parents to pass away while their children are still young. It’s also rare for children to die in infancy or youth. Human life-expectancy has steadily grown and we can also expect to lead healthier lives during our extra years. This is true for pets too: the same medical advances and cleaner, safe environment that help us to live longer help them to live longer too. Like doctors, vets are able to cure diseases and heal injuries that they could never have hoped to treat fifty or a hundred years ago.

But that simple fact remains: pets have much shorter lives than people. We have to lose their companionship and the happiness they bring again and again as life goes by. And when Shep or Kitty pass away, that is the end. Unless animals go to heaven, we can’t hope to meet them again. At least, that used to be the case. But just as science can cure more as it advances, so it can create more. The science of cloning is still young and expensive, but people are already starting to have their pets cloned. In the future, we can expect cloning to become common.

This will mean that when a favourite pet passes away, it will no longer be the end. If we choose, we will see them again, right from the beginning of their lives, as puppies or kittens or foals. But will the clone be the same, just because it has the same genes? It’s an interesting philosophical question. Of course, the clone won’t have the same memories or experiences as the original pet, but does that matter so much for an animal? They live in the moment much more than we do. They don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. That’s one of the lessons they can teach us.

And if a clone has the same genes as the pet we’ve lost, it will tend to have the same personality, not just the same appearance. In a way, it will be as though the pet we’ve lost has gone to sleep and then woken up in a new body. The clone too will have a shorter life-span and pass away, but again that won’t be the end, if we choose. The clone can be cloned. And then the clone of the clone can be cloned. It might become usual for people to have, in effect, only one pet during their lives. Perhaps cats will become like kings: Kitty I, Kitty II, Kitty III and so on.

But cloning won’t remove the problem that owners eventually pass away and leave their pets behind. Even in the future it will be an excellent idea to remember our pets in our wills or in our funeral plans.