B. Morris Allen’s story “Fetch” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 4 September 2020.
In 1957, the USSR sent a dog on the second craft ever to enter Earth orbit, Sputnik 2. The ship was never intended to be recovered, but Laika, a part-Husky street dog, died within hours of takeoff. When Adilya Kotovskaya settled Laika into her cramped space on Sputnik, she said “Please forgive us.” Oleg Gazenko, who chose and trained Laika, later said, “The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.”
We’ve done a lot of terrible things to animals in the name of science (and continue to do them). The cruelty of Laika’s death has haunted me since I was a child. My favorite film is Lasse Hallstrom’s My Life as a Dog, in which a boy ponders what was done to Laika. This particular story, though, was inspired by a song from Tony Carey’s Planet P Project, “Saw a Satellite”, which includes the lines, “And the ratings went over the moon on the day Laika died / But my mother just stayed in her room all morning and she cried”. I wanted to write something that both recognized the evil we did to Laika, but had a more hopeful, optimistic tone. I’m not sure it worked on the optimism front, but despite its grim inception, the story is intended as a positive message about coming to terms with the errors of the past.
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