Thursday, August 8, 2013

Olga, Laika, Ugolek and Veterok

A day of post-vacation practicalities, yesterday was -- laundry, grocery shopping, that kind of thing. Before we got to the store, our refrigerator was so sparse we worried we wouldn't have enough even to make peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. (And I'm still putting honey in my coffee because we forgot to buy sugar.)

The kennel delivered Olga yesterday evening, and it's good to have her home again. She seemed overjoyed to be here, leaping immediately onto her Kong toy and eating and drinking like there's no tomorrow. We saw a fox on our morning walk today -- it crossed the street in front of us and then sat on the opposite curb, watching us calmly. Olga strained at her leash and even barked once -- she never barks -- trying to get at that fox.

Speaking of dogs, remember when I mentioned a few posts back that I found a pet store in Barcelona apparently named in honor of Laika, the Russian space dog? Well, that brought to mind a Swedish movie from the mid-1980s, "My Life As A Dog," about a boy who keeps comparing his own troubled life to that of Laika's -- just to keep things in perspective.

Dave and I rented "My Life As A Dog" last night, because he'd never seen it and I hadn't seen it since it came out, probably in 1986 or so. It's still a great movie, I'm happy to report, and if you haven't seen it you should check it out.

I got to thinking about Laika herself. I've mentioned before that I collected stamps as a child, and I was pretty sure that I had a stamp featuring Laika. It took me a while to find it, because I remembered it as Russian and it's actually Polish, but here it is (left). A Moscow street mutt, she became famous all over the world, and a real hero in Russia and the Eastern Bloc -- though of course she paid for that recognition with her life. At least one Soviet scientist later expressed regret about causing her death.

As it turns out, she wasn't the only space dog, either. Russia sent a whole series of dogs into space beginning with Laika, and unlike Laika, many of them came back again. I didn't realize this until I began reading up on Laika herself.

If you're interested in the details, check out this page, which is hopefully accurate since it's on the previously New York Times-owned

Among my own stamps I found this one (right), which I first thought included Laika. But no -- this is Ugolek and Veterok, two dogs sent into space in February 1966 who orbited the planet for 22 days before returning the following month. There's a video here showing them after their space flight. They seem a bit stupefied, but I guess that's understandable after living in zero gravity for nearly a month (and goodness knows how they managed to eat, drink and everything else).

Anyway, thanks for indulging my little flight of nostalgia for Russian space dogs. We are nothing if not pointlessly curious here at Shadows & Light!

(Top photo: Hints of fall? A yellow leaf on the sidewalk in Notting Hill.)


e said...

That was an interesting bit of space history and your stamps are cool...I'll watch that film again at some point, too.

When do you start work?

Ms. Moon said...

Space dogs. You just never know what you're going to learn reading blogs.

Lynne said...

Wow, they deliver Olga right to your door? How convenient!

I've never seen that movie but I just might have to keep my eye out for it.

Reya Mellicker said...

Poor little puppy in the Russian satellite!

Do you know the Mighty Sparrow calypso song about Laika? I'll post the link on your FB page.

How cool that you still have the stamps!

Glad Olga is home, and that there are groceries in the fridge. Home sweet home!

Steve Reed said...

E: Glad you liked it! We start work on the 19th.

Ms Moon: I know, right?! I try not to be too predictable. :)

Lynne: Yeah, isn't that great? We sometimes drop her off, but it's great to have her come to our door when we're tired and just back from a long trip. And yes, watch for the movie.

Reya: I loved the song! In fact, I'll post the link in case others want to follow it and hear:

Linda Sue said...

The dogs and Chimps and monkeys sent into space, never to return, encapsulated in a weird sorry tin can...I think there is a special hell for those "scientists" but then I wash my hair with Pantene , notorious for blinding rabbits...poor poor animals, I , too, may end up in that special hell... It's always something! So glad that Olga did not give up on you. I love the image of her eating and drinking and leaping and wagging- manic joy! Welcome home. Woof to Olga from Dexter!

Linda Sue said...

Oh, and what is that Autumn leaf already- too soon!

The Bug said...

The image of Olga with her kong makes me grin :) So glad she has you guys & doesn't have to fly into space all by herself!