I like to watch movies and Netflix shows featuring space travel. Most of them these days always have some undertone, some political message about how we humans have messed up Earth and rendered it horribly uninhabitable. If is well made, and entertaining, I can usually bypass the politics. But as a dog-man, one of the things I have noticed in almost all these shows? Where is the dog? Heroic space travelers, adventurers, and even the complicated, stressed out adrenalin-junkies, should have a dog! Traveling to distant planets, when featured as a common, space-tourist thing, should have dogs in them. When people in our present-day take their pet to the beach, on airlines, a wedding, shopping, or on vacation, why would they then not travel into space?
We send mice, bacteria, bats, and insects into space. There may be some now in experiments on the International Space Station. Everyone has done studies how people will live in isolation for months-long travel to Mars. Americans tested space flight with chimpanzees. The Soviets started with dogs. If space travel becomes commonplace in our future imagined by authors, movie makers and television producers, why do we not see dogs in our sci-fi space shows? I’ll bet it has something to do with Laika. The Soviet cosmonaut dog went into space in 1957 but was never planned to be parachuted back to earth. And she died soon into the flight when life support systems failed. Perhaps audiences can get over seeing accidents, alien attacks, and asteroid strikes befall humans, but nobody wants to see Rin Tin Tin get hurt or killed by some psychotic idiot opening an airlock into the vacuum of space. In shows from Star Trek (1960 -1990s) to The Expanse, none to my knowledge, features a dog. I did find a dog ( via Google) in one recent reboot of Star Trek, and there was that cute beagle that transformed into an alien K9 protector, in I am Number Four (2011). Maybe, the dog-actor’s agent in 2019 still cannot get them royalties or interviews on late night television, and nix the deal. Of course, a dog in space poses some significant challenges.
Like the compulsion to mark territory. Or smelling every nook, cranny, and airlock, for the scent of friend, foe, or potential varmint. Would a dog learn to eat food from a squeeze tube? Could you teach a dog to not scratch (difficult in a space suit). And you cannot bring along enough dog biscuits for a three-year mission ( I run through a box every few weeks.) Walking a dog would be difficult under the best of conditions in low-G. And in a pressure suit? Not happening. Besides, how much of a mess to air-filtering systems would floating dog-hair be?
Things one ponders when walking dogs at night looking up at the orbiting ISS, stars and the distant planets.