James Symington is house-training the floppy-eared German shepherd pups
James Symington, the new owner of five puppies cloned from the 9/11 hero dog Trakr, got a surprise when he was presented with the dogs on Sunday. “I was told there were four,” he said to PEOPLE on Wednesday. “And then when I showed up to meet the four, they introduced and presented the fifth.”
Those five German shepherd puppies–ranging in ages from 6 to 2 months old–are now named Trustt, Solace, Valor, Prodigy and Déjà Vu. Trakr, a search and rescue dog who found the last survivor of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, was cloned after Symington, a retired Canadian police officer, entered the “Golden Clone Giveaway” contest sponsored by BioArts International last year. Trakr died in April at age 16.
Symington, who took the pups home to Los Angeles after the Wednesday press conference, now has a brood of six, including his 12 year-old German shepherd Ebony, who he said will be the “mama dog” of the family. “So it will be very busy, but do you know what?” he said. “I love Trakr so much, and he was so much a part of my life, [that] bringing the puppies into my home is going to be an honor and a pleasure.”
Now working as a talent manager, Symington is looking for search and rescue organizations to help train the new dogs to follow in Trakr’s footsteps. But there’s some immediate training at hand before then: Symington says the puppies, most of them still with floppy ears, fluffy fur and paws that are too big for their bodies, are only partially housebroken. “I’ve trained dogs for the last 15 years,” he said. “It will take me a while, but we’ll get a hang of it.”
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