Barbra Streisand walks NYT readers through her emotional voyage into dog cloning

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Mar 4, 2018, 6:14 PM EST (Updated)

Papa, can you clone me? Maybe — but we definitely know Barbra Streisand can. Only days after the internet went … nuts … when the singing queen told Variety that she was palling around with clones of her now-deceased dog Samantha, The New York Times has decided to set up the sandbox Babs needs to give her followers a more complete walkthrough of how it all happened — and why.

Reading through her guest Times column is enlightening for sure, but if you were expecting a contrite Streisand to react to the guilt trip that some people have been trying to lay on her, well, for Pete’s sake — you can just wait all night long.

Saying she was already expecting bereavement at the imminent departure of her 14-year-old Samantha, Streisand wrote that she figured it’d be “easier to let Sammie go if I knew I could keep some part of her alive, something that came from her DNA.”

But everybody knows that getting a dog cloned isn’t as simple as sauntering down to the corner research lab and blurting out “What’s up, doc?” And we probably don’t need to point out that cloning dogs is one of those endeavors that not even Barbra Streisand can get for you wholesale. If you want to see two (or more) faces in your deceased dog’s mirror-image batch, you’re gonna have to pay. 

Streisand, of course, had the hookup: “A friend had cloned his beloved dog, and I was very impressed with that dog. So Sammie’s doctor took some cells from inside her cheek and the skin on her tummy just before she died. And we sent those cells to ViaGen Pets in Texas.”

Once Samantha went where all dogs eventually go, Streisand dallied with a stopgap rescue dog named Sadie, as well as a gift dog (whose mom’s name was “Funny Girl”) from Samantha’s breeder, to tide the princess over until the cloning took. And when the batch of pups was finally done, not one — but four — newly minted little stars had been born. 

Alas, the runt died, Babs gave the rescue dog to her manager’s assistant, and handed over one of the clones to “the 13-year-old daughter of my A&R man.” All that puppy shufflin’ leaves her, if you’re counting, with three dogs — including the two Samatha clones. 

Are the clones perfect mimics of their source dog — a rare curly-haired Coton de Tuléar — in every way? You’d be forgiven for mistaking Streisand for Dr. Eldon Tyrell after she mused to Variety that she was anxious for the clones to age so that she could “see if they have Samantha’s brown eyes and seriousness.”

But when it comes to cloning, there are some things you repli-can’t and others you repli-can. Streisand admitted in her Times piece that the differences between puppy zero and her descendant dogs already are starting to show: “You can clone the look of a dog,” she confessed, “but you can’t clone the soul.”