Dog News

Remember This Astronaut’s Photo? The Story Behind It Is Even Sweeter

by Fred

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To see our first coverage of this story, click here.

Many of you may remember our first coverage of NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin having snuck his dogs into his official NASA photo shoot, and winding up with what is undoubtedly the best official photo ever.  Well, the story of how everything happened is just too adorable, and we wanted to share it with everyone to spread a few smiles in what may seem like a dark days on the horizon.

The story takes place in 2009, and Melvin is about to have his official NASA photo taken.  Melvin knew he had to get his dogs into the shoot with him, but dogs were not allowed in any of the facilities.  He would have to get creative, and sneak the dogs in with him somehow.  This was not going to be easy.

“I had a van and I drove the dogs in,” Melvin told Gizmodo.  “NASA doesn’t allow dogs to be on-site, so when I showed them my NASA badge, I kept the window up…and I had the stereo blasting because the dogs were barking. So I gunned it and the [security guard] didn’t chase me or anything.”

Alright!  Melvin and the dogs were in, almost.  He now had to get to Studio 8 at the Johnson Space Center, and get the dogs inside without anyone noticing.  Being a NASA astronaut, he used his brain and brought a bunch of dog bones with him.

“I had all these dog bones, and they were just sitting there eating the bones, just grubbin’ and happy,” he said.  “The dogs just ran over to me.  And [I said to] the guy who took the picture, Robert Markowitz, ‘Dude, start shooting!’  Jake was nibbling my ear.  Scout was all up in my grill, like, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?  What is he doing?’  But if you look at the picture, all of us are holding hands, all of us are connected.  And it was just incredible.  That picture was just amazing to me.”

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Before the famous photo was taken and had been shared thousands and thousands of times all over the internet, this dynamic trio was formed almost by accident.  It was on one Thanksgiving day that Melvin had rescued Scout while making dinner in his kitchen.

“I was cooking a turkey and Jake was right beside me waiting for something to drop, and my neighbor came over and said, ‘Leland, Jake’s in the front yard.’  I was confused because Jake was next to me,” Melvin said.  “I went outside and there was this dog in my yard.  So I brought him in, and he had no collar or tag.  No one claimed him.  I think someone might have dumped him because he had heart worms.”

Both Jake and Scout have since passed, however Melvin has nothing but fond memories of those two beautiful dogs, who took a simple official work photo and elevated it to almost “inter-galactic” fame.  Melvin plans to immortalize the dogs in his upcoming book due out in May.

“We had so many good memories, a lot of good stories with my dogs,” Melvin said. “They were my boys.”