Fantasy Horror Strange

Nothing But a Dog

By Rachele Gabriel
5,013 words · 19-minute reading time
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My father named me Laika because when I was born, my grandfather told him to treat me like a dog. To Father, Laika was synonymous with dog. He used the name to remind me of my place in the hierarchy: lesser. Beneath. Inferior.

Nothing but a dog.

My father meant to humiliate and degrade me with such a name, but he honored me instead.

You see, Laika was a stray dog from Moscow. On 3 November 1957, the Soviet Union put her on Sputnik 2 and launched her into space. She was the very first animal to orbit Earth.

The Soviets knew how to put a rocket into space, but they didn’t know how to bring it back. This made Laika’s mission a death sentence. Shortly after reaching orbit, the interior of Sputnik 2 became catastrophically hot – far too hot for mammals to tolerate. Mere hours after launch, Laika died an agonizing death. She perished the same way she’d lived: lesser, beneath, inferior. Abandoned. Unloved.

Nothing but a dog.

I spent many hours imagining her terror, pain, and loneliness....

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