Laika the space dog, NO nice story



  • My children are currently interested in space and space travels. we have several books that cover the topic, and in three of them there was a reference to Laika, the space dog:

    laika.jpg

    You learn from the texts, that Laika was a stray dog from the streest of Moscow, and she was the first animal to enter space and orbit around earth, back in 1957. My kids were fascinated by that, and asked me what became of her. No problem, let's google that.

    What we found out was, that this poor dog was not celebrated as a hero when she returned to earth (though she's a legend since the day of the launch). She had been sent on a one-way trip. The plan was to let her orbit for ten days, and then to expose poisoned food to her so she'd die. However, she didn't stand ten days. She died few hours after the launch of Sputnik II because of overheating. The satellite orbited around earth for five more months with the dead body of Lakia, before it re-entered earths atmosphere and burned up. There are more sad facts about Laika you'll find on the internet (like, about her training, about her heartbeat-rate at launch and forth).

    This was real life. It was overwhelming. We were not prepared for that and we all cried. Those pictures in the books showed a heroic dog in a space suit. Not this:

    laikaespaco.jpg

    Long story short. This post is mainly about our responsibility as illustrators. How would you have illustrated this dog if you were comissioned to do that? In the end, Laika was a victim of animal testing. How to treat such content properly in a children's book?



  • @Meta There's a really good graphic novel by Nick Abadzis about Laika that actually takes her pov in parts and deals with the tragedy of how she was treated rather than the propagandistic bent of which you speak.


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