This week I decided to visit a famous Russian dog. Her name is Laika and she is known for being the first living creature in space.
She lives high up on a mountain, fitting for a dog who touched the stars. In 1957, at the age of three, she was selected (although she claims she volunteered) to be the first animal in space. “I was very proud,” Lakia told me soon after she allowed me into her cabin and poured me a strong drink of vodka.
“It was an honor. I was the greatest dog in all of the Soviet Union. I was cheered wherever I went. Then came the day to blast off. I was put in a vessel on top of the rocket. Everyone told me I was a good dog. I got a pat on the head. ‘Goodbye Lakia, you have been a good dog,’ my handler said.
“I licked him and then, with my eyes, asked why he was acting like we would not see one another again. He told me that they knew how to shoot me into space but had no idea how to have me safely reenter the atmosphere. That was an important fact to leave out. Before I could convey that I was no longer down with the plan the rocket took off.
“I will tell you, it is beautiful up there,” Lakia continued. “You can see all the continents, and the stars are spectacular. But then it started to get very hot. I looked out the window expecting to see Delta written on the side of the craft. It kept getting hotter and hotter until I splashed down here.”
I said I was happy to learn she didn’t suffer and congratulated her to be the first beating heart in space. She took a long drink of vodka. “Of course, the humans take all the credit now. I am barely a footnote. But we dogs know what we have done and that is enough for me. I just wish the move was called the Ruff Stuff and not with Right Stuff.
“That is why I live up here in the mountains,” she said. “I have never trusted a human again. I tried to talk her into coming to meet my human friends but she refused. “They put me on top of a rocket and shot me into space to die. I am better alone.” I finished my drink thanked her, and left.
I went back to my Bridge village and I talked to Jackie Pool, Vicki Tankersley, Gina Busch and other dog moms who live with us. The next day they went with me to visit Lakia again. Lakia was not welcoming at first but after a half hour of talking with the moms Lakia was getting belly rubs, kisses, and happily wagging her tail. She had forgiven humanity.
Since that day Lakia is coming down to see the humans more often. I think she will always be independent but like so many rescue dogs she is learning to love and trust humans again.
To the moon and back.