Belka and Strelka

belka.strelka01Some of the Soviet Space Dogs even managed to form a bridge of sorts between the USA and Russia, at a time of very high tensions. Belka and Strelka were Space day-trippers, spending a 24 hours in space aboard Korabl-Sputnik in 1960 before safely returning to Earth.

At the Russian research facility, a dog named Pushok was involved in many earthbound experiments, but did not travel into space himself. The space suits for the dogs were designed exclusively for females, so he was never going to go into orbit himself. However, Pushok certainly discovered some perks of being one of the few males in the program, and used the opportunity to romance Strelka. He and Strelka produced six puppies.

The Russian President, Nikita Khrushchev presented one of these puppies, named “Pushinka” to Caroline Kennedy – the daughter of the US President, John F. Kennedy. It is said that she was allowed to live at the White House – but only after being checked for Spy equipment first! After first having a thorough examination (no doubt a CIA operation!) Pushinka did not have any interest in maintaining the Cold War between Russia and America, and forged her own bond by partaking in a US-Soviet joint project – having four puppies fathered by one of the Kennedy’s dogs – Charlie.

It is said that JFK himself referred to the offspring jokingly as “pupniks”. Pushinka’s legacy still exists to this day, her descendants are alive and well. The Zvezda Museum outside Moscow pays tribute to her by displaying a photo of some of her descendants in the exhibit.

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