(ANIMAL SCIENCE) — Nina and Edgar Otto’s yellow Labrador retriever, a clone of their late dog, is now a father to 8 healthy puppies. It cost $155,000 dollars to clone their dog, Lancelot, to make Lancelot Encore and his puppies are selling for $2,000 dollars a piece. Read more below on the reasoning behind this animal cloning madness. — Global Animal
NBC News, Lisa A Flam
Lancelot Encore has had a second act of his own — or make that eight, to be exact.
Edgar and Nina Otto’s yellow Labrador retriever, who was cloned from the couple’s late dog Lancelot, became the father to eight healthy puppies on the Fourth of July.
The five female and three male pups each weighed slightly more than 1 pound and were all given patriotic names: Star, Victory, Glory, Patriot, America, Independence, Allegiance and Liberty, said Edgar Otto, 82, of West Boca Raton, Fla.
“We were relieved that they were all born healthy,” he told TODAY.com. “The puppies are adorable.”
The Ottos mated Lancelot Encore — who is nicknamed Lancey — with a purebred American Kennel Club-registered Labrador retriever that belongs to a breeder in nearby Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The female dog was surgically inseminated with Lancey’s sperm on May 7. “And eight weeks later, puppies!” Otto said. The puppies were born naturally and are in the breeder’s care, said Otto, who has only seen them in pictures online.
The Ottos generated plenty of buzz and appeared on TODAY after they spent $155,000 to clone their beloved dog Lancelot. They cherished the dog so much that they had the foresight to collect his DNA before he died of cancer in 2008. Lancey came a short time later, born to a surrogate Irish setter in South Korea.
“We have gotten some negative feedback from people on the price,” Edgar Otto told TODAY’s Al Roker in January 2009. “But we feel it is worth it.”
Otto said he and his wife wanted to breed Lancey to see whether the puppies would be any different from those without a clone for a dad. So far, there’s no difference, he said with a laugh.
Lancey’s puppies are being kept in isolation with their mother to keep them healthy until they are eight weeks old, he said. “The reason for the isolation is to be absolutely sure that they all grow up to be healthy, wealthy and wise,” Otto said. “Nobody has visited them.”
Now just three weeks old, the little ones are starting to nip each other, he said proudly.
“Every day is a different day in the life of a puppy,” Otto said. “They grow so much. Now they’re almost to the playing stage where they recognize they have brothers and sisters and they’re beginning to annoy each other.”
As the owners of Lancey, the Ottos will get their pick of the litter. Edgar Otto says they plan to choose one of the females, though he won’t say which one.
“We were very anxious to have Lancey and his daughter with us,” Otto said. “Dogs have their own unique personalities and we’re very anxious to meet with the puppies and make sure that we are compatible with the puppy we’re going to choose.”
“We are going to raise her, cherish her, and love her,” Otto said, adding that it’s too early to say if they’ll breed her.
The other seven will be going “off to loving, caring homes” at a price of $2,000 each, he said.
The Ottos are looking forward to bringing their new addition home to their existing menagerie of animals. The parents of eight children and grandparents of 13, the Ottos also have eight dogs, five cats and four birds.
“We are firm believers that single-animal households are doing their animals a disservice,” said Otto, who still goes to work at his company Hyperbaric Veterinary Medicine, which treats animals using hyperbaric chambers.
Otto says their pets, which include several champion show dogs, “are our lives.”
“My wife and I desperately love all of our animals,” he said.