In 1957, Laika the dog was launched into space orbit by the Soviets, blazing a path for human spaceflight. Today, the Chinese regularly launch dogs into space with their own astronauts.
There is a notable difference in the designated role of the dog between the two space programs. The Soviets sent Laika into orbit primarily to determine whether humans could survive weightlessness in space.
The Chinese send dogs, or as they are widely known in the western world, Man’s Best Friend, into space as part of a healthy breakfast, or whatever meal they are consumed as a menu item.
The UK Telegraph reports that Former astronaut and China’s first man in space, Yang Liwei, commander of the Shenzhou five 2003 space mission explains in his autobiography, The Nine Levels Between Heaven and Earth, “Many of my friends are curious about what we eat [in space] and think that the astronauts must have some expensive delicacies, like shark’s fin or abalone. Actually we ate quite normal food, there is no need to keep it a secret.”
One item that stands out on the listed menu of normal items includes dog meat, specifically, the type sourced in Huajiang County in Guangdong, which is esteemed in China for its nutritional benefits. Not significantly, dog shared the menu on day three of Liwei's mission with baby cuttlefish casserole and eel with green pepper.
Hope I’m not making everyone too hungry to read to the end of this post.
To capsulize, somebody in the Chinese space program made the decision that shark fin was too extravagant for space missions, but dog as a nutritious, yet familiar, comfort food would contribute to the fitness and focus of the astronauts in the performance of their mission, and that there is no need to keep this a secret. Tough call, but you gotta just trust the experts in these things.
Does this post have a point, you ask? Well, no, not a very strong one, other than, it can help make some sense of things to view people and their activities in their cultural context. That, and the term “puppy chow” might lose a lot in translation depending on how good the foreign language dictionary is that you might be relying on.
A few years ago here in Kona, while waiting to pick up baby girl from middle school, a ten or eleven year-old girl passed my car while walking her pet Vietnamese pot-bellied pig on its leash. I watched the two of them stroll down the sidewalk until they turned the corner. disappearing from sight. In some (probably only non-gated) subdivisions in Kona, domesticated pigs may be kept as pets. Doesn’t keep me from eating bacon, though.
One of my Filipino buddies here always claimed he had the best recipe for cat. He remained tight lipped about giving up the family recipe, but he did let slip that the secret lay in the ginger. I’ve never personally tasted it at any cookouts or potlucks as far as I’m aware, … maybe, though. He did mention it tasted pretty much like, what was it again? Oh, yeah, cat.