Laika, the little dog sent into space by the Russians during the middle of the 20th century, has made a triumphant and unexpected return to Earth.
The dog, feared dead for many decades, touched down in a Siberian village early Thursday morning. Locals thought they were being invaded and notified the Kremlin after fleeing for their lives into nearby dense forests.
The spacecraft - made from a thrash can wrapped in aluminum foil and a fishbowl (the height of Soviet ingenuity at the time) - opened up and out popped the yapping dog.
Communicating in Morse code, the dog tapped out his message: "do not be afraid. I come in peace. I am Laika, honorable cosmonaut dog". He then ran down the street after a cat.
"It appears Laika's craft managed to reach speeds approaching the speed of lite", said a Russian scientist, "this allowed him to age very, very slowly. He survived on doggy biscuits. And by eating Linka the space monkey."
Laika's journey took him past the Kuiper belt and deep into the un-chartered territory of deep space.
This is not Laika's first return to the planet of his birth. He's made numerous visits and most U.F.O sightings can now be explained by Laika's fondness for playing intergalactic Frisbee.
Not everyone is so pleased at Laika's much vaunted return.
"I warned them this day might come. But would they listen?", trembled terrified local village postman, Yuri, 86, "they all said I was mad. But I know the way that bloody evil dog thinks".