Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles

David Wagner, Managing Editor | 5/23/2014 | 69 comments

David Wagner
Most of us have gone through the pain of losing a beloved pet. Maybe you lived a long and happy life together, and it died peacefully. Maybe it was tragically struck down by a car or a disease. Maybe you accidentally shot it with your finger:

Whatever the reason, losing a pet can be a tragic loss, one that can take months or years to recover from. We do many things to try to grieve and recover. Many of us have multiple pets and take extra time to hug the ones who still reward our lives. We might spend more time with family or friends. One great way to help recover is to have a pet funeral like this one. (On a side note, this thing only had 56 views when I linked to it. Don’t tell me I don’t go to the ends of the Earth to find you fresh and awesome stuff.):

Sometimes that kind of grieving isn’t enough. Even after you’ve reflected on the idea of peeing on your dead pet, you might remember the good old days before they unceremoniously floated there in the toilet. And you might think about what a great thing it would be to have that wonderful pet back in your life. You may even consider cloning.

Pet cloning services like this one in South Korea have been in business off and on for 10 years as companies work with the business model. For $100,000 you can have a copy made of your pet, like the way you back up your data in the cloud.

But let’s face it, some of us are worried about this happening:

So what is a desperate grieving pet owner supposed to do?

A new app called PetMatch will help you. Can’t afford a clone, but willing to take your chances on centuries of inbreeding helping your pet look much like others of its breed? PetMatch will use roughly the same technology as facial recognition software to find a match for your pet waiting to be adopted in a shelter or store near you. You just upload a picture of your precious Spot or Mittens, and the app compares details like fur color, eye spacing, snout shape, and possibly propensity to bark at the mail carrier to find you a perfect copy of your flea-bitten darling without the fuss of borrowing $100,000 for a clone.

There’s only one problem, right? We’ve all seen Pet Sematary and know how this turns out.

OK, maybe you don’t replace your beloved pet with an undead, frightening version of your old pet, but it is still creepy, right? If your husband dies, you wouldn’t just automatically marry his identical twin, right? I mean, unless you were in a bad sitcom...

Here's a newsflash for the people making this app: Just because they look the same, they aren’t the same dog.

Your dog is special because it loves to see you when you come home. It has that special leg twitch when you scratch its ears. Your cat is special because, unlike all the other humans it hopes die a horrible death, it lets you pet it occasionally in exchange for food. The new dog won’t be happy you come home. It doesn’t know you. The new cat will simply want to claw your eyes out.

Sure, eventually they might learn to love you. But they won’t love you the same way. They’ll love you the way they love you, not the way the dead look-alike loved you. That only happens on Telenovelas when they kill off a character and want to bring the actor back as a twin. If you want a new dog to love, that’s great. If you want the same breed, fine. But isn’t it a little creepy, and most likely really disappointing, to try to find the same dog in another body? The problem here is that this app treats love like a commodity.

If you love a pet, you love the quirks and the details, not the fact that its eyes are a certain distance apart. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, except the people who just invested $20 million dollars to make an app that finds you cheap copies of your pet, that that isn’t the way love works.

What do you think? Flush this app down the toilet with the dead fish? Or a useful way to find a new pet? Would you clone a pet? How do you grieve for lost pets? And share a picture of your beloved pets (living and dead) in the comments below.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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David Wagner   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   6/2/2014 3:01:57 PM
Re: Dating
@Joe- I love it. I want an app that shows me a none-famous simgle woman who looks just like Carrie Fisher in her Episode VI days.

OK, I really don't, but I wanted the geekiest person i could find without revealing my own tastes. :)
Joe Stanganelli   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   6/1/2014 4:29:39 AM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
@Dave: Come to think of it, white cats are often blind... I wonder how/if flash photography has contributed to that. 
Joe Stanganelli   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   6/1/2014 4:27:04 AM
Dating
@Dave: I could see this same technology being applied to dating.  Forlorn over the one that got away?  Or do you think Freud's theories were correct and you keep dating people who look like your mom or your dad?  Why not use this technology to find your new partner?

Creepy?  Maybe.  But is it really creepier than this?
Broadway   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/31/2014 9:58:21 PM
Re: Why did that App cost $20 Million??
@eethworkz, perhaps that app is tracking huge amounts of data on its users, and that's where the value in it is really for its founders, investors and prospective buyers. After all, a lot of the overvalued acquisitions in the mobile world lately are driven not by the product, but the data that the product collects. Maybe this app sells the data to pet food companies?
Anand   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/31/2014 2:08:53 PM
Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
Human beings are social beings and are therefore very emotional. Despite the fact that some people are stone-hearted, a majority of us really break down when we lose our dear ones. For people who love pets and have had pets for the rest of their lives, it is not an easy time when we lose these wonderful creatures. The sanest thing to do is to think that replacing a dead or lost pet with another one especially a clone will bring back the same experience and feeling you once shared with your "late poor pet". Yes, I agree that it can act as a consolation but we must also agree that every individual being is different right from its DNA's structure. Therefore opting for a clone would simply mean looking for an absolutely new and refreshing experience, which is still good. Go for it.
tekedge   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/30/2014 11:52:44 PM
Pet Refresh Cycles
Will never consider using this app. Where my pet is concerned good memories are all I need! I don't think even the cloned pet will compensate the loss of my pet
vnewman   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/30/2014 12:23:11 PM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
impactnow   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/30/2014 11:37:00 AM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
Sane exactly it's like siblings they share the same gene set and can be completely different. While cloning can get you a look alike it may not get you all that you are missing...sometimes it's just time to move on.
SaneIT   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/30/2014 7:56:43 AM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
I spent years fostering retired greyhounds and watching as dogs came off the track and moved to new homes.  For me it was very enlightening to see how different their personalities were even though they lived the same very structured life and many had common parents or grandparents.  I couldn't imagine a cloned version of any of them being just like the original because they are all so different.  I'm not saying that if someone wants to spend the money to have a pet that looks exactly like a former pet is a waste of money but I think they need to be aware that it's not like resurrecting their pet from the dead.
David Wagner   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 6:58:16 PM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
@vnewman- The real question is-- how do the cats feel about all the paparazzi? :)
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