To own an animal is to learn about the inevitability of dying not that loved ones can be replicated in a lab if we cough up enough cash, writes Guardian columnist Stuart Heritage
Barbra Streisand might not brim with the white-hot cultural relevance she used to, but nobody can deny that shes a trier. For example, when everyones back was turned, she went off and created her very own Black Mirror episode.
In her episode, a broken-hearted millionaire realises that she cannot bear to part with her sick dog, so she spends an inordinate amount of money to have it cloned. However, with every passing day, the millionaire realises the futility of her gesture. The clones dont behave like the original, and the differences between old and new tear at her soul until she drowns the puppies in a lake.
Apart from the last part (it wouldnt be Black Mirror unless it ended on a note of harrowing violence) this has all actually happened. In a recent Variety interview, Streisand revealed that her Coton de Tulear dogs, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett, were created in a lab. She had them made, at great expense, from genetic material taken from her dog Samantha, who died last year.
Tragically, she now hints that it might have been a mistake. The new dogs might look like Samantha, but dont behave like her. Im waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have her brown eyes and her seriousness, she said.
Without sounding too solipsistic, a big part of owning a pet is to learn about death. You take custody of an animal knowing that youre likely to outlive it. While its alive you swaddle it in as much love as you possibly can, and then it dies, and then youre bereft, and then, slowly, you learn how to move on. Little by little, pets equip you with the tools to deal with grief.