One of my favorite radio shows is "This American Life" broadcast locally on Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR 90.7). "This American Life" tells stories of Americana in small segments. Each week they have a theme and profile true stories within that theme through interviews and authors reciting essays.
Showtime has picked up This American Life as a television series and because I've enjoyed the program so much over the radio, I've started to rent the DVDs. This is how I learned about Second Chance.
Second Chance is a bull. More specifically he is the cloned bull of one family's beloved pet now deceased. The original bull, Chance, was tame enough that he was allowed to wander their property without fences or tethers. Chance was used in several Hollywood movies and TV shows. David Letterman rode him on his show. Children played with him.
As Chance became geriatric and his family faced his inevitable demise they heard about cloning studies being done at Texas A&M University and lobbied hard to have the university clone their beloved Chance. Despite the fact that the University doesn't clone pets they eventually caved and allowed it to be done as they needed a geriatric animal to clone as part of their research.
This story reminds me very much of something I experience listening to pet owners after they've lost a beloved pet and come to HAWS. Going through the grief and loss of their family member and love for animals people frequently come by HAWS to find a new pet. Many times grieving pet owners are looking for an animal that resembles the pet that they lost. They cling to the hope that because the animal looks the same that it will behave the same.
The very sad ending to the segment on "This American Life" is that Second Chance wasn't anything like the original Chance. Second Chance severely gored his owner - not once, but twice. Second Chance may have looked like his predecessor and even had the exact same genetic material, but it didn't mean he was the same -- not by a long shot.
Each human being is an individual with our own personalities. Even identical twins are their own person. We have to realize this is true of our pets as well. As unfortunate as it is, most of the animals we've chosen to keep as pets will not live as long as we want them to.
But each of us can have a second chance, and we all can give another living being a second chance. While we cannot replace a beloved pet by getting one that looks and behaves the exact same, we can learn to love an animal for their own individual personalities and traits. And by adopting an animal you can give them an opportunity to have a forever family that they might not otherwise have.