In praise of dear Laika; her true story is the only one that does her any justice. Happy tales of a silly dog in space are shameful lies. We as human beings need to face the truth and change our ways.
As human beings…
We have the capacity to innovate, always, to find other ways to do things. We do not want our lives disregarded, abused, taken, and thrown away, so we should not do these things to other innocent, harmless, or helpless beings. No excuses justify it.
So why does animal experimentation continue since way back in the 4th century BCE?
I urge people to stop living in fear of the self-interested things “lab animal scientists” say, to vote against them, to boycott them and their cheerleading media such as newscasters who regularly tout the latest “breakthrough” thanks to “lab animals.” Those breakthroughs never quite work out in human beings, for the obvious reason that we are different from rats, etc., even from primates, as the TGN1412 case clearly shows which you can read about in Wikipedia and elsewhere.
I say we should all speak up in defense of animals, who should not be in those cages, and no longer be intimidated by threats of “your dog or your baby” as experimental fodder.
Human knowledge should never rely on abusing and taking lives.
Which brings us to Laika
She was a sweet, trusting stray dog cruelly used and killed by supposed morally superior human beings back in 1957.
Sputnik 2, launched November 3, 1957, contained the first “living specimen” to be sent out into space: Laika, the world’s first “space dog”!
Her true story wasn’t told to the world until around 2002.
Laika’s real name was “Kudryavka” (Little Curly). Laika means “Barker,” the Russian name given to dogs of her breed. She was a small husky-terrier mix.
Soviet Space Dogs
These were stray dogs gathered from the streets of Moscow to be strapped into centrifuges that simulated the extreme G-forces of take-off…quite terrifying to dogs or anyone without understanding.
Dogs were used because scientists felt they could endure long periods of inactivity better than other animals(?!) As part of their “training” they were confined in small boxes for 15-20 days at a time. Female dogs were chosen because they did not have to stand and lift a leg to urinate.
Laika’s capsule was not meant to be retrieved, so the sweet, trusting dog was never meant to survive. Her last meal (meant to be dispensed to her on the last day of the mission) was laced with poison so she would die “humanely” (as if poisoning is humane).
Laika’s fate turned out to be even worse
The USSR’s mission controllers eventually revealed that Liaka’s capsule overheated and she died within 5 to 7 hours of the launch.
She was the only dog Russian scientists knowingly sent into space to die. Important to understand: At the time there was no space craft that could sustain life during a long flight or survive a re-entry without burning up.
Now, what sort of being takes an innocent, unknowing, loving, trusting fellow being and forces her into hardcore training, and into a doomed space mission, using her as a political pawn for a government (Soviet Russia) obsessed with being better than another government (the USA)?
Certainly not a HUMAN being. We love animals, right?
Human cruelty “won” the space race
Sputnik 2 had been conceived and built in just under four weeks at the urging of then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. On the day of Laika’s voyage, the New York Times printed: “the Soviet Union claimed a victory over the United States.”
The World Space Congress in Houston reported 45 years later that Laika died of fright shortly after take-off.
Laika’s spacecraft was no bigger than a washing machine. She was confined to a small cockpit, no choice, no escape, no mercy, abandoned by those she loved and trusted, to face an untimely painful death.
Russian authorities had previously circulated reports that Laika survived in orbit for four days and then died when the cabin overheated due to a battery malfunction.
In reality, medical sensors recorded that immediately after the launch, as her capsule reached speeds of nearly 18,000 miles per hour, her pulse rate increased to three times its normal level, presumably due to overheating, fear, and stress.
Possibly five to seven hours of overheating, terror, and stress, before finally succumbing to death.
And human beings did that to her.
Happy-talk veiling the sad truth
The “happy” stories circulated about this tragedy tout it as some sort of first step out into space by mankind, and oh, isn’t it funny…a DOG…hahaha, aren’t we something?
It was not until 1998, after the collapse of the Soviet regime, that Oleg Gazenko, one of the scientists responsible for sending Laika into space, expressed deep regret for allowing her to die:
“Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it… We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.”
As if human ego and curiosity could ever justify such abuse of an innocent life if enough was learned!
When will people learn the most important human knowledge EVER?…that we are to be loving, civilized and peaceful, and deliberate animal abuse has absolutely no place in that…not ever.
Laika’s hard life and death
Laika endured a sad youth where she was mistreated by former owners and lived roaming the streets, hungry and pleading. She trusted the scientists who took her in implicitly, listened intently and was visibly happy when the dog handler said, “You can trust me.”
She was elated when one of the handlers, Yelena, called her a “good dog.” Her only desire in the world was to be loved by humans.
Sadly, one could see the absolute terror on her face as she was trapped in a space capsule by these same humans who “loved” her.
Would HUMAN beings, so determined to be seen as caring toward animals and each other, so driven to ensure their own comforts and peaceful, beautiful surroundings, do such a thing to an angel like Laika?
One of the scientists took her home with him before the launch so she could be a “normal” dog; she played with the scientist’s children, not knowing the fate she was about to meet.
Laika was a guileless creature who wanted nothing except approval from the very people who orchestrated her death. She died of FEAR. It was done to her deliberately, knowingly, by people she loved and trusted.
Honor & Compassion – far too late
Near Moscow’s Military Institute is a statue of Laika standing proudly on top of a rocket. A monument to human shame, actually, though Laika deserves her proud stance, as she was an excellent dog.
The Bottom Line
How do we justify treating these obviously sensitive beings, full of love and character when given a chance to know us, as THINGS, to be taken and done with what we please, no matter how cruel?
To eat them, when we are omnivores and can live much better, more efficiently, cleaner, etc., without eating them at all?
We use animals for all sorts of cruel purposes, by choice not totally desperate need…and that is not proper human behavior.
No wonder we have never had a time of worldwide peace or where we were not violently abusing each other, especially the helpless, as that is what brutes and cowards do.