Dogs are often regarded as a man’s best friend and for good reasons. They can form deadly loyal bonds with their pet parents, they bring unmeasurable amounts of joy and can help us overcome some pretty dark moments, which is why they’re among the most popular species of therapy animals. Here’s a breakdown of the most famous Russian-owned dogs and the reasons why history remembers them.
Dubbed “the Russian Hachiko”, Constantine (or Kostya for short) is the living example of canine loyalty, which knows no bounds. Kostya was the domestic pet of a Tolyatti-based family that passed away in a car accident back in 1995. He was the only survivor in the car crash and kept coming back to the scene of the accident, mourning his lost family, for the next 7 years. Regardless of the weather conditions Kostya never stopped visiting the very same spot up until his own death. In honor of his heartwarming devotion the locals decided to erect a bronze monument on said spot in 2003, commemorating Kostya for eternity.
Konni Paulgrave, the beloved by everyone dog, was one of the pets of Russian President Vladimir Putin. A black lab-retriever mix, she came to the Putin family as a gift from Sergey Shoygu in 2000. Throughout the upcoming 14 years Konni became a prominent participant in Putin’s personal and political affairs. Almost never leaving the President’s side in his leisure time and during official press conferences and meetings with journalists or political parties, the pup had jokingly been labeled Putin’s unofficial advisor on internal and foreign relations by the media. Amiable and loyal to her master, Konni was such a hype among everyone that the President had to issue and official statement in which he pleaded the people to not feed his dog and spoil her dietary regime.
Similarly to Konni and Constantine, Joy was a faithful dog that never let his owner out of sight. Joy belonged to the last Tsesarevich and heir of the Russian Empire – the young Alexei Romanov. Early photographs from the 1900s show Joy at Alexei’s side. According to historical archives, after the Romanovs were executed and the White Russians occupied Ekaterinburg they found Joy wandering the halls of her home and pining over his missing pet parents. They took him to the UK where he allegedly died out of grief several years later.
Here comes probably the most famous non-fictional dog of all times, Laika, the very first dog that orbited Earth. Even though she significantly contributed to the idea of human space travel, her premature passing is still the subject of controversy all over the globe. Laika was shot into an orbital flight on the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 in the distant 1957 where she died only a few hours after takeoff. Sadly, the spacecraft was never designed to return back to Earth, thus dooming the 3 year old puppy from the very beginning. As a result, these actions were met with a gigantic wave of disproval and criticism from everyone. In 1998 one of the several scientists who were involved in Laika’s death, Oleg Gazenko, mentioned that he regrets the decision every single day and that even he cannot justify the untimely passing of the dog.
Belka and Strelka
Unlike Laika, Belka and Strelka had a happier ending. They were the very first dogs to not only survive an orbital flight, but to return safely to Earth without any physical harm. They took off on the board of Sputnik 5 (which was known as Korabl-Sputnik 2 in the USSR) in August 1960. Belka and Strelka’s flight lasted less than 24 hours. Some years later Strelka bore a litter of puppies and one of them was given as a gift by the Soviet officials to Caroline Kennedy, the to-be American Ambassador and daughter of former US President John F. Kennedy.