Illustration by: Aaron Gelston
Humankind’s imagination is only surpassed by its hubris. We believe ourselves to be above the other beings that share the Earth with us. Our evidence for this is many times found in our scientific achievements, none more so than our journey into space. We believe we were the first to space, but we are wrong. Dogs were the first creatures to enter space. Space is the dog’s domain. We are only visitors.
They say from the moment humans looked towards the heavens, we have always dreamed of flight, but dogs don’t dream—they go fetch. The history of canines’ campaign to conquer the stars began in the Soviet Union in 1951, when on July 22, dogs named Dezik and Tsygan went on a suborbital flight to an altitude of 110km. They parachuted down successfully, and became the first of what would be a long line of Russian rocket dogs.
During the buildup of the space race in the 1950s, the USSR decided to use dogs to test if human spaceflight was possible. Soviet scientists felt dogs would be best for spaceflight since they could handle long periods of inactivity (Looking at you, Fluffy). They also decided to use female dogs, since women are braver than men. (Also, to pee in the doggie space suit you had to be a female.) Finally, they felt stray dogs were more suited to endure the stresses of space travel because the streets make you hard.
Laika the Space Dog was simply a dog roaming the streets of Moscow until she was chosen for the most daring of missions. Those that knew her before her journey described her as kind, but out of place—as if she was meant to do something but hadn’t found it. At the time of her launch, there was no technology for reentering the Earth’s atmosphere, so her mission to space was a one-way trip, which is why her bravery is unsurpassable. In an interview the day before her launch, a stoic Laika said to the Russian people, and to the world, “Though I am about to fly into the sky, do not cry and do not ask why. For the answer is simple, I am a Space Dog.”
On Nov. 3, 1957, Laika was launched into space. The launch was successful, but once Laika began to blast through the atmosphere, some of her craft’s thermal insulation tore loose, causing the cabin to heat to 104 degrees. In spite of this, she orbited around the Earth four times before she died. She lived as a hero often does, in obscurity, and died as a hero should, in the heavens.
Now that orbit had been achieved, it was time to find out if it was possible to make it to space and back. This time it wasn’t a mission for a lone wolf—it was a job for a duo named Belka and Strelka, who were sent into space on Aug. 19, 1960 and spent a day in orbit before safely returning to Earth. They went to space as two pups trying to make their country proud, and they came back as rockstars.
Belka and Strelka were prepared for space but not superstardom. Their images were everywhere. “It was Beatlemania before there was such a thing,” Belka said in an interview conducted in 1980. The duo began throwing lavish parties, inviting the biggest celebrities. Strelka explained, “We had this rager one time. Lassie was there. Marmaduke—the cartoon Marmaduke was based off of a real dog—he was alive back then. I saw Marmaduke doing cocaine off of my counter—like how he’d eat pies off the counter—but it was line after line of coke.”
Before long the partying led to their downfall, culminating in Belka’s infamous nip slip as she was getting out of a limousine at Old Yeller’s birthday bash. “I was wasted before I got there. Though, honestly, it’s hard to hide your nipples when you have six of them. Also, I’m a dog,” Belka said. Belka and Strelka may have been the first dogs to make it to space and back, but when it came to fame, they crash landed.
Sure, the United States did send the first men to the moon, but Russia sent the first living beings, dogs, into space. It’s a feat that we as a nation have never been able to overcome—until now. Now is the time to send the first Party Dog to space. From 1987 to 1989 the United States caught Spuds-fever, as it was the era of Bud Light spokesdog Spuds MacKenzie, the Original Party Animal. Though Honey Tree Evil Eye, the female dog that played Spuds, passed away in 1993, she has a granddaughter named Buzz MacKenzie, whose first name being the same as Buzz Aldrin AND Buzz Lightyear cannot be a mere coincidence.
Why send a Party Dog to space? Partying in space is still an entirely unexplored science. For example, is it possible to have Spring Break in space? What are the logistics of doing a kegstand in zero gravity? And the most important question of all: can you be cool in space? The answer, if we send Buzz MacKenzie to space as the first Party Space Dog, is hell yes.