Does a Human-Dog Mix Exist?

Hybrid or Hoax?

Circulating via email, an unsettling photograph of what appears to be a half-dog, half-human creature suckling her hybrid offspring has been circulating via email since April 2005. It's real--a real sculpture, that is!

Human-Dog Hybrid Artwork

The strange half-human creatures in the image below are neither real nor a hoax; they are elements of a sculpture by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini entitled "The Young Family." It's part of a larger installation called "We Are Family," described by Jane Silversmith of the Australian Council for the Arts as an exploration of "the changing relationship between what is considered natural and what is considered artificial."

"Piccinini's works animate the promise and the perils of the runaway scientific developments that pervade our time," Silversmith continues. "Her art embodies our dreams — dreams of perfect children, of perfect health, of life disease-free, and articulates the value of difference and uncertainty in human life."

Variously characterized as "sow-like," "half-human, half-dog," "human-dog hybrid," and "trans-species," Piccinini's silicone creatures are unsettling, even disturbing to look at, because they blur the boundary between human and animal in such a lifelike way. It's a timely theme, given continual advances in embryonic stem cell research that may eventually enable scientists to grow human organs in the bodies of other species, and vice-versa. Recalling a mythological beast described by the ancient Greeks as part-lion, part-goat and part-dragon, the subjects of such trans-species experimentation have been appropriately dubbed "chimeras."

Sample Email About Human-Dog Hybrids

Distributed in 2004

Tel-Aviv, Israel (AP) — Israeli scientists are examining what appears to be a trans-species between a Labrador retriever and human. While genetically considered impossible, humane workers found remains of an earlier trans-species, believed to be the parent of the animal pictured above, shallow buried in the owner's property. The human parent of the animals is believed to be the teen-aged son of the family well known in politics.

DNA studies are in process and results are expected early next month. The animal shown has been named "Chimera" and appears to have a rudimentary ability to speak. At this time no charges have been laid pending DNA and court rulings. Chimera is believed to be about ten years old. Neighbors were shocked to learn what was living in their area. However, several did comment that strange cries have been heard at night.

The Israeli Humane Society took the mother and her litter into protective custody last night. A debate is developing between social and religious leaders to settle issues regarding euthanasia or circumcision of the male human pups.

Sources and further reading:

We Are Family - Patricia Piccinini
Installation at 2003 Venice Biennale

Patricia Piccinini Represents Australia in Venice Biennale 2003
New Zealand Art Monthly, January 2003

Patricia Piccinini: Hyperfealism

Hybrid Life: The Art of Patricia Piccinini
Living Ethics, Spring 2004

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