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.

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David Wagner   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 6:55:01 PM
Re: Why did that App cost $20 Million??
@eethtworkz- valuing these things is difficult as you know. Sometimes you are paying for user base, sometimes for IP, sometimes for perceived potential. One wonders if the real value is in the IP surrounding the "facial" recognition of the animals. 

Also, there is a sort of "pet porn" reality to it where lots of dog and cat lovers might just use it for looking at pics. I don't know if any of that is worth $20 million but it might be if you squint at it right.
vnewman   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 1:13:10 PM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
@SaneIT - The first thing I did when I graduated from college was move out of my parents house and buy a cat (back then I don't even think they had organized adoptions - you went to the pet store).  Her name was Mercedes and she lived for 19 years.  I'm an only child and she was my buddy - she was with me through all those formative young adult years.  That cat saw a lot of crazy things - she knew where all the bodies were buried so to speak.

When she died a couple of years ago, I was devastated.  I had long thought about cloning her even before it was a realisitc possibility.  Last year, I felt I was ready to be a pet owner again and thought I would want a kitty that looked just like her - long black hair with green eyes.  So at the time, I would have been all over this app.

But at the end of the day I realized the best way to honor my kitty was to adopt another one that needed a good home and understand that there is no replacing my old friend and nor would I want to.  She was unique and special.

I ended up adopting two sister kitties who I named Kate (like the Dutchess) and Pippa (her wild sister).  They are nothing like Mercedes Cat - Siamese with big blue eyes.  Their personalities are very different as well.  Plus, since they have each other, they don't seem to need me as much as my single cat.  And that's ok.  And as much as I miss my buddy, I've learned to appreciate my new kitties for what they are. 

So I think this app should come with a disclaimer...the best way to honor what you had is to move forward and appreciate what you have now.
eethtworkz   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 12:27:04 PM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles

That's a most smart and sensible way to handle this situation.

Very,Very intelligent!
eethtworkz   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 12:24:51 PM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles

Undoubtedly this is very much a Grey Area with a lot of Ifs and Buts.

The way I look at this issue is like this-As long as its safe and does'nt really harm other people around (by not creating Monsters like we have seen in the Movies);I have no issues with it.

Live and Let live feels like a nice model.

Does'nt it?

eethtworkz   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 12:21:21 PM
Re: memories with Fresh pet

The Bottomline is if you do have nothing else to do with 100 Grand.

Now there are'nt really that many folks who fall in this category today.

Are they?

And for those that do?

What can I say?

Have fun and hope it works out satisfactorily for you.

eethtworkz   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 12:08:11 PM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles

Now that you mention it-Its so,so true!

Frankly speaking I had also observed this issue very closely (amongst siblings) but was never able to place it down into precise words.

The Causal effects are beyond stunning(when one looks at it that way).

No wonder Human Pschyology is such an interesting field.

eethtworkz   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 12:04:28 PM
Re: Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles

Have to second your thoughts exactly.

I have to say I was beyond stunned when I saw the price & traction that App was getting.

Guess,I am not the only one who thinks that Sanity has been lost in the Tech world today?

You simply can't buy Love for any price.

Its not the same as when you bring a little Puppy home and nurture him/her into a big Dog who simply adores you.

Is it?

eethtworkz   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/29/2014 12:01:44 PM
Why did that App cost $20 Million??

I actually went ahead and downloaded and tested that App.

And trust me on this-There is absolutely NOTHING in that App that makes it worth 20 million Dollars(which is what the founders claim to have invested there).

I hope I am not the only one who realizes this critical issue of hopelessly overvalued IT assets today*just like the Dotcom bubble all over again ain't it??).

freespiritny25   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/28/2014 7:47:44 PM
Re: Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
A pet clone- now that's just creepy! It's not how the pet looks that is missed, it's the personality and connection-it is irreplaceable.
David Wagner   Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles   5/28/2014 5:21:04 PM
Re: Re : Geekend: Pet Refresh Cycles
@CMTucker- Very wise. Never thought of it that way because I think of my resources as time and love and money but I suppose they think of those resources as more specific (at least subconsciously) like "time playing catch" or "time watching TV" or "excited listening" rather than "listening because Daddy knows Frozen is imporant to you." :)
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