T. C. Boyle's stories have often appeared in the Houghton Mifflin series The Best American Short Stories. His short story "Admiral" is no exception. In this work, the author takes on the persona of a young African-American woman, who appears as the protagonist, Nisha. Home from college without anything better to do, Nisha agrees to dog-sit for the Strikers, a very well-to-do couple. Cliff and Gretchen Striker are lawyers with more money than they know what to do with. So when their Afghan dog dies, they pay a quarter of a million dollars to clone a replica of it. Now the Strikers want Nisha to take care of the new version of Admiral just as she did the original. They want Nisha to wear the same clothes she did when she was in high school; to play the same games she did with the first Admiral; to walk the new dog, feed the new dog, and talk to the new dog as she did those many years ago with this new pup's predecessor. Since Nisha has nothing more promising and the Strikers are willing to pay her well, she takes on the task of shaping the new pup to be just like the other dog.
But there is a catch. The story of the cloning has been in the papers and on television. Reporters come around to take pictures and to gain updates to the story. Such a person shows up one day, telling Nisha that he is a reporter. He wows both the dog and Nisha, and he wants exclusive rights to a story. But that is not all: Erhard eventually confesses that he is from an animal rights group. Providing an interesting twist to the story, Erhard also has an Afghan puppy, one that looks just like Admiral. He wants to prove that the Strikers could not tell the difference between his pup, which was practically free, and Admiral, who cost the Strikers $250,000. Erhard is involved in this story because of the cruelty done to the hundreds of dogs in order to create the clone. In the end, will the Strikers be able to tell the differences between the two dogs? Were their efforts and the pain subjected on the donor dogs worth it? Such are the ethical as well as financial issues explored in "Admiral."