Pets Around (and Occasionally Out of) This World

RUSSIA (ALSO OUTER SPACE): In 1957, a stray dog from the streets of Moscow became the first dog in space& - proving that dogs always can be tricked into going for a ride, no matter how far. The mission also proved that yes, dogs can live in space, and yes, dogs can die in space... especially when they don't have any food or oxygen. Laika [wiki] (known to Americans as Muttnik) was cremated upon reentry 163 days after launch.

First Lady Grace Coolidge with her pet raccoon Rebecca at the White House Easter Egg Roll on April 18, 1927 (Image Credit: Herbert E. French, Library of Congress)

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The White House saw raccoons roaming the halls under Calvin Coolidge; Teddy Roosevelt's son's pony took a ride in a White House elevator; Benjamin Harrison's presidential goat, Old Whiskers, escaped and had to be chased down Pennsylvania Avenue; and Warren Harding's Airedale terrier sat in on cabinet meetings. Apparently, it's not easy to find human friends when you're the president. Harry Truman summed it up: "If you want to find a friend in Washington," he once said, "get a dog."

PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA: In the 1960s and '70s Mao Zedong decided that dogs (even being raised as livestock) were filthy manifestations of bourgeois decadence and had them all killed, proving once again that anyone carrying pictures of Chairman Mao ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow. But now, 30 years later, the Chinese taboo on pets is slowly lifting. In a country where Big Brother says you can only have one child, these days he'll let you have several dogs
GERMANY: Even Hitler had a dog. Blondi [wiki] was a German (surprise!) shepherd who slept by Hitler's bed every night in his Berlin bunker and probably gave an evil man pure and unconditional love. In return for this service, Hitler let her have a cyanide tablet right before he and Eva Braun ate their own.

Long John Silver
by Monro S. Orr (1934)
THE HIGH SEAS: Animals aboard pirate ships may have been well loved, but hard life on the high seas trumps love. Whole swaths of the Earth's oceans were dubbed Horse Latitudes, where winds stopped blowing and horses were slaughtered and consumed. As for parrots, they were kept in cages and used to bribe port officials in the 18th century because their feathers carried considerable value. Oh, and the bird on Long John Silver's shoulder? It was an invention of author Robert Louis Stevenson and would probably have created an unacceptable mess for an actual swashbuckler.

Burmese Python in Florida's Everglades National Park (Image Credit:

THE EVERGLADES: Pet Burmese pythons have long been "set free" in Florida's Everglades after reaching unmanageable lengths, and the python population in the Everglades now seems to be self-sustaining. If you fear pythons (and who doesn't?), the man to ask for intercession is Saint Patrick. The patron saint of Ireland is also the man some believe responsible for having thus far kept Ireland a snake-free isle.


From mental_floss' book Scatterbrained, published in Neatorama with permission.

Don't forget to visit mental_floss' extremely entertaining website and blog!

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Unfortunately, this must have been written prior to summer of last year. Now dogs are being limited to one per household, and in some areas, eradicated altogether. 300 people got rabies in China. So rather than the communist country making rabies shots mandatory for all dog owners (only 3% get vaccinated), those Reds took to the streets in gangs and dragged all dogs into the streets and beat them to death with clubs.
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