Last week, I happened upon Space Dogs—a Russian children’s cartoon about the Soviet space dog program. At first, I thought that the show would be another idiotic animal exploitation film like G-Force or Lenny the Wonder Dog, but it was really a fictional—quite fictional—take on history. After I watched the movie, I looked up the true story, and the film presented several facts—the dogs used in the space program were female strays, and they did undergo quite a training regimen to become canine cosmonauts. Caroline Kennedy did receive a puppy from the Soviets—Pushinka. In the film, I believe that the puppy given to President Kennedy is Pushok, though in reality Pushok was Pushinka’s sire and Strelka was her mother. Belka, Strelka, and the other critters onboard Sputnik 5 were the first earthborn creatures to orbit the planet and to return home alive. For that, they are indeed animal heroes.
RIA Novosti features an image gallery of the Soviet space dogs, including Belka and Strelka. YouTube also has several videos about the historical Belka and Strelka such as this and this.
If you like children’s animation, eye candy in Moscow, and boomer childhood nostalgia, I recommend Space Dogs. The English script is a bit cheesy, but there are some smile inducing moments that made me question whether the line was in the original Russian. For example, does the original script include the Belka’s dressing room reference to Orwell’s Animal Farm? Quite fitting and funny.