A cloned dog and his human » Albuquerque Journal

Sheryl Anderson has a word with party boy Blue, her service animal and constant companion. Anderson credits her large cloned dog for helping her get her life back on track. She threw a party for Blues 10th birthday on Wednesday. (Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal.)

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – If you’ve seen Blue around town, you know him.

And who knows him, loves him.

That is, unless your heart is four times small when it comes to dogs.

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Blue is four times too big for the average dog. And very little is average about this 166 pound half Great Dane / half Neapolitan Mastiff.

Blue – whose full name is perhaps aptly named Blue Frankenstein – is a scientific marvel, one of the few cloned dogs in the country, perhaps the only one in New Mexico and probably the largest in the world.

A mix of Great Dane and Neapolitan Mastiff, Blue is celebrating its 10th birthday on Wednesday at the Alien Brew Pub, one of the many restaurants where it is often seen. Blue is one of the few cloned dogs in the country, perhaps the only one in New Mexico and probably the largest in the world. (Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal.)

More importantly, he’s also the best friend, constant companion, and favorite service animal of Sheryl Anderson of Albuquerque.

“He’s the coolest dog in the world,” she said. “Not really like a dog – very unique, a loving soul that just knows who needs it.”

She needs him.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Blue Anderson pulled through some of the darkest moments of her life. And she pulled him through his.

On Wednesday, Anderson and many of Blues favorite people celebrated his 10th birthday at the Alien Brew Pub, one of several local restaurants he is a regular. In many ways it was a festival for both of them to endure whatever life has thrown at them.

Like any good guest of honor, the big boy padded from table to table to greet his fans and stayed longer at the table of a friend in poor health who still had the strength to attend the party.

A cake celebrating Blues 10th birthday has its full name, Blue Frankenstein, a reference to the way it was cloned. (Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal.)

As if Blue knew the effort that was being made for him, he gently laid his massive dark gray head in the man’s lap.

“This guy’s a sniper at the vet and he’s broken his neck, has cancer, can barely walk, and just loves Blue because Blue makes time for him and even looks after him at Blue’s dog party,” said Anderson. “Blue went out of her way to hang out with this gentleman.”

Blue is his father’s clone, which we will refer to as Original Blue for clarity, one of the most popular and largest dogs Anderson had. He was only 2½ years old when he started to limp. Vets suspected bone cancer in one leg and started chemotherapy. A second opinion suggested massive infection. By this point, chemotherapy had wiped out the dog’s immune system and he died on February 14, 2008.

Death was so devastating for Anderson that she slipped into the dark world of drugs and bad guys, quite a fall from grace for the granddaughter of longtime New Mexico political icon, Clinton P. Anderson.

“I really think I would never have gotten into trouble if Blue hadn’t died,” she said. “I would never have put myself in such danger.”

She had learned about genetic cloning and the possibility of creating a new blue, a process that uses DNA from the animal to be cloned, injected into a dog’s egg, from which its own DNA is extracted and then implanted in a surrogate mother .

At the time, the only laboratory that did the procedure on animals was in South Korea. Today, some labs offer the procedure, including Texas-based ViaGen, which specializes in dog cloning. Prices now range from $ 37,500 to $ 50,000, or about half what it cost when Blue was cloned.

Anderson had already started cloning Original Blue when she became involved in drug and arms trafficking, which resulted in her arrest and conviction for shipping or transporting a stolen firearm, for which she was sentenced on October 12, 2011, to 10 years Jail.

She could only see her new Blue, who was born three months before her sentencing, for a few hours.

Knowing that Blue was waiting for her outside helped her get clean and find her way out of the dark. She was released from prison in 2018 and friends picked Blue up. Within two hours, she said, she and Blue were so bonded as if she had never missed seven years of his life, as if he had come back to Original Blue for her.

The two have been inseparable ever since.

“I’ve been with dogs all my life and they are all special and I loved them all, but Blue is different,” she said. “I can’t explain it, but of all the money I’ve had and wasted, Blue makes me the happiest. More than a house or a car. “

As with many large dogs, Blue has a life expectancy of around 8 to 12 years, which is shorter than that of some dogs. Large dogs die younger because they age faster and they age faster because they grow faster. This can lead to other health problems as well, and Blue has tackled a few of them, including arthritis and bladder problems that required multiple catheterizations and surgeries.

Anderson is determined to provide Blue with the best possible care so that he has the best chance of avoiding the same horrific and premature death that Original Blue suffered. She and Blue, along with her other big dog Tuco, Blue’s grandson, frequently travel to Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins for health care and hydrotherapy, where Blue is a popular patient known for his gentle demeanor and demeanor drive to keep going.

“I think he gives people love and hope, and people also know what he means to me,” she said. “The various veterinary clinics know what he’s been through. You love his combative attitude. “

And yes, she knows all about the cloning controversy. The Humane Society of the United States believes that cloning treats animals as a commodity rather than living beings. PETA asks how many shelter animals could find a home if there were no cloned animals.

ViaGen responded to this criticism by saying that their animals are “treated with the utmost care, nutrition and respect” and that the high cost of cloning makes such pets rare and has no significant impact on the number of animal shelters adopted.

Blue was certainly not treated as a commodity, said Anderson. He leads the best dog life, showered with affection, with a large garden, healthy food and huge dog beds. He even has his own Facebook page under “Blue Frankenstein II” with more than 500 followers and is often recognized everywhere.

For his birthday, he was given enough toys and treats and cards to cover a couch.

“Oh my god, he did banking,” said Anderson.

Having Blue has been her lifesaver and her greatest joy, but she doesn’t expect to clone Blue or use the remaining DNA samples from Original Blue that are still in storage.

“I absolutely love Blue, but I don’t think a dog will ever be as much the center of my life as he is,” said Anderson, 58.

That Blue has reached the ripe old age of 10 is something to celebrate. But she knows there might not be 11. The dark gray of Blue’s big, mushy face is more gray than dark these days. But he’s still nimble for an old boy because of his treatments.

And he’s still as full of love as ever, said Anderson.

This love is not just for her, but for everyone he meets, for life, as natural and real as anything else.

UpFront is a news and opinion column on the front page. You can reach Joline at 730-2793, jkrueger@abqjournal.com, Facebook or @jolinegkg on Twitter.

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