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. Donít tell me I donít go to the ends of the Earth to find you fresh and awesome stuff.):

Sometimes that kind of grieving isnít enough. Even after youíve 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 letís 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. Canít 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.

Thereís only one problem, right? Weíve all seen Pet Sematary and know how this turns out.

OK, maybe you donít replace your beloved pet with an undead, frightening version of your old pet, but it is still creepy, right? If your husband dies, you wouldnít 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 arenít 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 wonít be happy you come home. It doesnít know you. The new cat will simply want to claw your eyes out.

Sure, eventually they might learn to love you. But they wonít love you the same way. Theyíll 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, thatís great. If you want the same breed, fine. But isnít 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 shouldnít 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 isnít 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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