Dogie the Cartoon Dog Blasts Off for Space

Cartoon dog to travel with shuttle Discovery to space station Monday.

ByABC News
April 1, 2010, 3:33 PM

April 2, 2010— -- As the crew of space shuttle Discovery prepares for its trip to the International Space Station -- the launch is scheduled for Easter Monday -- the Space Race has been rekindled.

No, not that space race. I'm referring to a contest between two cartoon dogs: one, an iconic beagle loved the world over; the other, an adventurous mutt created by a child more than four decades ago.

Like most kids growing up in the 1960s, I loved the comic strip Peanuts. I also knew from an early age that I wanted to be a cartoonist. When I copied what I saw in the pages of the Omaha World-Herald, however, my father was critical of my imitations, believing that a true artist needed to be "original."

It was soon after that I responded to his concerns. "Dogie the Doggie" stood tall and wore turtlenecks and sweaters, his name possibly inspired by my father singing, "Whoopie-ti-yi yo, git along you little dogies." Soon, I was creating my own "newspaper," naming it after my new favorite dog.

When I wasn't sketching Dogie, I was drawing spaceships. The Gemini and Apollo programs were certainly big news in those days, and a love of space was a bond my father and I shared.

Although I couldn't have fully understood that the moon represented the finish line in a fierce competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, space travel piqued my imagination, allowing me to dream on paper, creating spacemen and rockets that could travel into space on my behalf.

It didn't take long for my two passions to join forces. It was in one of my editions of The Dogie the Doggie News that Dogie became the first dog to set paw on the moon.

I was content with Dogie's achievement until 1969, when I was eight years old and came upon a department store display of Snoopy-as-astronaut dolls, a sign declaring that Snoopy had made it to the moon first.

The "proof" of my homemade newspaper was no match for the department store display. Or for that matter, Charles Schulz. After all, the command module for Apollo 10, the last rehearsal for the moon landing, had been nicknamed Charlie Brown. The lunar module was called Snoopy. The astronauts on that mission also took along sketches created by Schulz.