Muttniks Day

On November 3, 1957, pioneering canine Laika became the first living creature to orbit the planet. To honor and celebrate the contributions of the space dogs with a holiday of kindness, November 3, is heretofore known as Muttniks Day.

Muttniks NFTs
6 min readNov 3, 2021


From 1951 to 1961, dozens of pioneering dogs called Muttniks led the way to space for all humankind.

Imagine being a street dog–a regular mutt–living on the streets of Moscow in the early-1950’s, and by happenstance at the very beginning of the Space Age. Next imagine being one of hundreds of dogs who found themself suddenly being rounded up, caught, and brought to live in a most unusual facility. For not only were the human beings at this unusual facility no longer uncaring or ambivalent to you, a dog, now friendly people were around you constantly who took great interest in your health and well-being. In fact, it was no longer rough and cold, and there was regular food.

Now, if for whatever reason you did not take to either the attention or the instruction, you may have found yourself quickly re-released back to the harsh life of a street dog in Moscow during the mid-20th century.

However, if you responded well and even enthusiastically to all the attention and training prompts, the humans around would became even more interested in you. And if you were a special kind of lucky dog, one of the best, brightest, friendliest, and smartest of the entire pack of street mutts, you might find yourself with a whole lot of attention. And even a new job:

Space dog.

July 22, 1951, launch of first Muttniks, Tsygan and Dezik, to a height of 110km. Note: this flight went higher than either Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos both achieved in their space launches in the summer of 2021.

And that is exactly how it was for the dogs who went through the very earliest cosmonautic training of the Soviet space program, a training specifically designed for dogs. Dogs would would go to space. The Muttniks.

Laika nearest human scientist with her two backup Muttniks, 1957.

The space dogs were not Muttniks from the start. The name “Muttniks” came about by the most legendary space canine of all, Laika, going to space and into orbit aboard the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik-2, just one month after the world’s first orbiting spacecraft, Sputnik-1, made history by successfully making it to space and likewise into orbit. Afterwards, Western leaders, eager to make light of the accomplishments of their Soviet counterparts, invented the Muttniks moniker. Yet the world had been smitten with these space dogs and the name quickly became a term of endearment and even delight.

And that lasted approximately four years, until in 1961 human beings went to space. After Yuri Gagarin went to space, followed soon by one human after another, the Muttniks dropped from the news, then the school books, and gradually the daring space dogs were all but lost to history, their contributions and accomplishments gradually fading even from historical sidenotes. At the beginning of the 21st century, and the budding dawn of a remarkable new Space Age–one with private spaceship companies–the Muttnik hero dogs were no longer remembered in any significant way outside of Russia.

That is, until now. On July 22, 2021, the 70th anniversary of the first Muttniks, Tsygan and Dezik, friends Kyle Schember, Giovanni Vignone, and Mike Mongo launched the Cosmic Paws Muttniks NFT as “the world’s first reparational NFT” to recognize these pioneering space canines, and in doing so not only rescued the Muttniks from fading obscurity but gave them new life and purpose in the 21st century–as citizens of the metaverse.

The new face of Laika, and the start of her second life in the metaverse.

Sharing the true story of the Muttnik’s accomplishments with a new generation of fans of space and science, and giving Laika and her fellow Muttniks revived agency in the metaverse in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) imbued with the dog’s histories as well as a new role and new purpose–rescue mission in the metaverse!–the Muttniks became a welcome new resident in the unfolding landscape that is the metaverse in 2021. The goal of Cosmic Paws with the Muttniks NFT–as a “reparational NFT” project–is to restore dignity and kindness to the dogs who led humankind to space.

Which leads us to Muttniks Day.

Muttniks Day is November 3

On November 3, 1957, one month after the Soviet Union made history by sending the beeping Sputnik up to space and into orbit, the soon-to-be-famous cosmonaut dog Laika launched into space, into orbit, and into history.

Terribly, as soon as she launched her fate was set: Laika was predetermined by her space science caregivers to be euthanized in space. The space capsule she went to space aboard, without a mechanism for landing, was designed to intentionally cause her death with the idea of preventing undue suffering. Unfortunately, the mechanism failed, and Laika died of heat exhaustion, suffocation, or a combination of the two.

This is a true story. The well-trained and enthusiastic Laika willingly went into the Sputnik-2 spacecraft, and for her loyalty and intelligence she was treated most inhumanely. And that is how the story had been left for all these years.

Yet there is hope.

Over the history of humankind, there are countless slights, crimes, and injustices. As with the injustice done to Laika, they have rightfully lingered and languished, painfully reminding us of our mistakes and misdeeds. What has been missing, however, has been a way forward.

With the Muttniks NFTs, we have committed to modeling a way forward. And that way is reparations.

Laika and all the other dogs (and other creatures) that went to space in voluntary and involuntary service to humankind are long dead. Yet the bruise of our mistreatment and out-of-integrity exploration of them remains unhealed, unacknowledged, and untended.

In order to make good on our shabby treatment of these animal space heroes, Cosmic Paws is declaring November 3 as Muttniks Day. Muttniks Day is the celebration of the Mutts in our lives and in our communities around the world.

One of our favorite Mutt charities supporting dogs with love, The Forgotten Dog Foundation.

Muttniks Day is a day to practice kindness to Mutts, both kept and unkept, both friended and unfriended, in the name of Laika and all the other dogs and creatures who went to space.

Muttniks Day is a day to celebrate the accomplishments of space exploration we have in our lives today — from cell phones and GPS to satellite and weather data that keeps us safe and our planet (and resources) healthy and sustainable.

Most of all, Muttniks Day is a day to be reminded of how to approach all life respectfully and to model how the consequence of mistakes can be lessons to become the best versions of ourselves when we are willing to take on responsibility for our actions through ownership — that is, admitting our wrongs — through transformation (intentionally not doing the same wrongs again), and finally through reparation.

We all make mistakes. Even species can make mistakes. Where we have a way forward now is to make amends.

Again, Laika and her fellow space dogs and creatures are long gone. How we can do right by then all is by taking care of the Mutts who are with us today.

In the end, we are all Mutts. And when we do right right by any of us, we do right by all of us. For all Muttkind.

Happy Muttniks Day 2021!

Check out Muttniks NFTs for yourself at For all Muttkind!



Muttniks NFTs

From July 22, 1951 to 1966 nearly 100 dogs went to space. #Muttniks NFTs celebrate these space pioneer canines! #ForAllMuttkind 🐕