Monitoring the health of the dogs

Always at hand were many dogs that would never see the inside of a rocket, but were simply kept at the Institute for use in related research. They might be employed on the training equipment to establish physiological benchmarks or to test capsules or spacesuits. Their names, like so much Russian music to us now, never made it into the history books; names like Nochka, Bodraya, Zolushka, T'ma, Planeta, Marsianka and many more [6].

Solicitous attendants would walk the dogs at least twice a day, although animals about to be used in an experiment received additional exercise. Twice a day they received a meal from their special diet, which typically included a soup of gristle, bone and grain, as well as bread and meat. Their diet also included vegetables, fish oil and milk. Dogs that were about to undergo a particularly difficult experiment ate a special diet of sausage, bouillon, preserves and sweets.

In some of the long-duration experiments, such as protracted stays in a confinement cage, it was not unusual for the dogs to fret and not eat well. Brought from the

Exercise walks were part of the daily routine for space dogs in training. Even these playful occasions provided opportunities for evaluating the suitability of the dogs for rocket flights. (Photo: Collection of Francois Viger)

cage weakened and listless, they would require a glucose shot to revive their strength. However, veterinarians closely monitored their health and administered thorough examinations before and after each experiment.

For the behavioural scientists working with the dogs, continuous observation allowed them to create an elaborate profile of a dog's emotional reactions. Even such domestic activities as feeding time, exercise walks and time spent in their cages revealed important information about how the dogs reacted to different circumstances. It created a personality profile of the dog. For instance, it would be determined how much time a caged dog spent in active or passive forms of behaviour. Some of the dogs moved continually, others much less. Some barked loudly when a human appeared in the kennel or food appeared, while others calmly accepted such distractions. The dogs also differed in the nature and intensity of their movements. Sometimes the reactions might be quiet but active, while the reactions of others could be quite sluggish. Other times they could even be quite violent [6].

This study of the nature and extent of the dogs' activities (or lack thereof) in the vivarium and during related experiments provided insights into how the dogs would perform on flights. The dogs Laika, Belka and Strelka, who became famous for their record-setting orbital flights, were selected from the quiet dogs.

Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment