Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Subway Dogs of Moscow

Like any large city, Moscow is home to a lot of stray animals. Amongst a population of over eleven million humans exists an estimated 35,000 stray dogs; and some have adapted especially well to life in the urban jungle.
Just as their wolf ancestors learned the best hunting routes over time, some Moscow strays have learned to use the city’s massive subway system to commute to the urban core where the best food begging opportunities exist.
Strays in Moscow have traditionally lived in large industrial complexes that provide plenty of shelter with little human disturbance. When Russian capitalists elected to move these industrial areas from the city’s center to its outskirts to make room for restaurants and other private businesses in the 1990’s, the dogs moved along with them.

However, this created a problem as the dogs were now required to live many miles from the best food sources. The smartest strays solved this quandary by learning to use the subway to commute to the city each day, allowing them to live where they want without giving up begging opportunities.
Not only are these dogs tolerated by commuters, they are actually celebrated by some. They are not aggressive and usually allow people to pet them or sit next to them. After all, being polite is the first step to getting a handout. These dogs are so beloved by some that there is even a subway dog statue honoring them.
Once the dogs have reached the appropriate stop, they’ll exit the train and go to work searching for a meal in the streets above. They do this by either scaring people into dropping their food by sneaking up behind an unwary target and barking, or by simply acting so cute and nonthreatening that it’s irresistible to offer them a bite.
At the end of a hard day the subway dogs will descend the stairs, find the right train and get in a nice nap for the ride back home.

Images via English Russia.

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