This is from a wonderful fictional account of the (real) first dog sent into space by the Soviets. Her life as presented by Grossman is a parable of freedom, renunciation and unconditional love.

Not to mention staying alive on the streets; here we get a glimpse of her survival saviness, in particular the treacherous guises in which death can camouflage itself.

Grossman seems to have had considerable empathy for animals, often trying to present the world through his imagined version of their side of the story. In addition to this account, ‘The Dog’, he wrote ‘The Road’ about an Italian army mule in the Second World War who ends up on the Russian front, via a short trip to Abyssinia. Resolving Hamlet’s dilemma on the way.

‘She was a small bandy-legged mongrel living out on the streets. But she got the better of all hostile forces because she loved life and was very clever. She knew from which side trouble might creep up on her.  She knew that death did not make a lot of noise or raise its hand threateningly, that it did not throw stones or stamp about in boots; no, death drew near with an ingratiating smile, holding out a scrap of bread and with a piece of net sacking hidden behind its back.’

 

Source: Vasily Grossman, ‘The Dog’, The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays, trans. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Olga Mukovnikova, afterword Fyodor Guber (New York: New York Review Books, 2010), p. 236

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