Dogs of the stars

In the late ’90s, a story emerged that made dogs a rebuke to post-Communist Russia. Ivan Mishukov ran away from his neglectful mother and her alcoholic boyfriend aged four, and survived two years on the streets of Moscow by begging for food and sharing his spoils with a pack of stray dogs that became his protectors. Adult humans abandoned, ignored or abused the city’s street children; the dogs were more humane. During the 1950s, though, dogs were the wet-nosed vanguard of Soviet progress. The successful launch of Sputnik 2 put a living creature into orbit for the first time, and that creature was Laika, a female Moscow stray mongrel, captured and trained for space flight. Continue reading