The spirit of the late king’s favorite dog is alive via eight new royal puppies bred from sperm harvested from its offspring and frozen over a decade.
Kasetsart University vets yesterday unveiled “Khun Thong Daeng’s” family, a litter of puppies they said were bred using frozen sperm descended from the legendary dog who was one of the late King Bhumibol’s most loyal companions.
“We’ve wanted to do something never seen before. The current King gave us permission and provided us with Khun Thong Daeng’s history, personality and breed,” acting university President Chongrak Wachrinrat told reporters.
It was the second such litter to be bred.
Chongrak said King Vajiralongkorn wanted to help continue Thong Daeng’s lineage in honor of his father.
Thong Daeng has been assigned much of the same esteem afforded the royal family, and is customarily referred to by the media as Khun Thong Daeng, or “Ms. Copper.”
Thong Daeng was a stray when she was given to the king in 1998. She died in December 2015, just 10 months before His Majesty. At the time, an unprecedented case of royal defamation was filed against someone for mocking Thong Daeng online.
The sperm was collected a decade earlier from her two sons, Thong Ake and Thong Yib, in August 2005.
The first litter of puppies was bred by taking Thong Ake’s sperm and artificially inseminating Asley, an unrelated royal dog of the similar-looking Basenji breed. Five were born June 17.
The second litter of three was born Sept. 6 to another royal dog, Ann, who was also artificially inseminated. All eight puppies have names containing the word “Thong” – meaning “gold” – as a nod to their grandmother Thong Daeng.
King Bhumibol’s affection for Khun Thong Daeng was widely known. He was even credited with writing a biography of her life titled “The Story of Thong Daeng” which became 2002’s best-selling book. It was also adapted into a film. In 2006, the dog was featured on official postage stamps.
An immaculate meter-high statute of Thong Daeng was created for the royal crematorium of King Bhumibol and installed on the top tier of his 50-meter pyre.
Editor’s note: Due to legal precedent, comments about Thong Daeng the stray-turned-royal will be subject to the same moderation applied to those about other members of the royal family.