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Dogs of Moscow
January 16, 2010 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Dogs of Moscow

Previously, but an expanded update seemed in order. And the pictures are pretty damn good.
posted by IndigoJones (38 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have to wonder if 35,000 wild dogs is good thing to have in your city. Keeps the rats dowsn i suppose.
posted by RussHy at 8:03 AM on January 16, 2010


His observations have led Poyarkov to conclude that this leader is not necessarily the strongest or most dominant dog, but the most intelligent – and is acknowledged as such. The pack depends on him for its survival.

Dogs are smarter than us.
posted by eye of newt at 8:07 AM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Counterpoint: packs of roving stray dogs are not a good thing.

Italy targets stray dogs after fatal attack
: Italy has pledged to crack down on the half a million stray dogs roaming the country after two serious attacks in a few days, including the mauling to death of a young boy.

Woman mauled to death by pack of wild dogs (Bulgaria)

Stray Dogs Maul Joggers, Kill Zoo Animals in New York City

Stray dogs 'kill another child' (India)

Bucharest plans to double the number of dog catchers after a Japanese businessman was savaged to death by one of the 200,000 (!!!) strays that roam the Romanian capital.

Bucharest has an interesting history with their strays- Ceausescu tore down an incredible amount of housing in order to build the "People's Palace" which was actually primarily for himself. This put about 40,000 people out on the streets and most were forced to abandon their pets, leading to a large amount of strays on the streets of Bucharest that has ballooned into the 200,000+ today. This may be apocryphal but I had also heard that when Ceausescu's government "disappeared" someone the neighbors would keep the dog around as a memory of that person that the government couldn't make disappear. But it's easy to be romantic about their stray dog problem until you're chased down the streets of Bucharest at night by a pack of wild dogs; luckily for me dogs can't scale a fence, but after reading about the Moscow dogs riding the trains it may just be a matter of time.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:24 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interesting article, thanks for this.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:26 AM on January 16, 2010


While in Moscow, I often took pictures of strays, because they slept like corpses.
posted by fake at 8:41 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I expect there will be an animated "Metro Dogs" feature any day now.
posted by smitt at 8:48 AM on January 16, 2010


Where's that "Lots of Dogs" Sarah Palin graphic? Seems somewhat apt because, after all, there are lots of dogs in Moscow.
posted by John of Michigan at 8:50 AM on January 16, 2010


Thanks, interesting article.
Perfect timing to, I just happened to finish Sobachye Serdtse (Heart of a Dog) Thursday night! Excellent movie, you can watch on YouTube with subtitles.
posted by effigy at 9:22 AM on January 16, 2010


While in Moscow, I often took pictures of strays, because they slept like corpses.

They don't look like they sleep like corpses, dogs sleep like that when they have the run of the place.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:22 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's interesting almost all the stray dogs were born that way, only about 3% of pet runaways/castaways live long enough to become stray. What happens to the other 97%? In the US, we round them up and most are eventually destroyed. Do these stray dogs perform that function, killing off the surplus pet dog population? Or Russian winter. Also, what is the history of eating dog in lean times, there seems to be a common theme of keeping emergency rations on the pad. Where I live, we call it "deer". I think Maryland has enough to keep the entire state in meat for a week.
posted by stbalbach at 9:52 AM on January 16, 2010


Stray dogs used to have the run of Constantinople in the days of the Ottomans. They ate food scraps and provided poo useful in the making of leather. It took the young Turks to put a stop to it. Not all people thought it the best of ideas.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:02 AM on January 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Extra risk to add to italian vacation:risk of savage death from wild dogs. Who knew?
posted by uni verse at 10:09 AM on January 16, 2010


Watching them over time, I realised that, despite some variation in colour – some were black, others yellowish white or russet – they all shared a certain look. They were medium-sized with thick fur, wedge-shaped heads and almond eyes. Their tails were long and their ears erect

In the small town where I lived in Japan, almost all of the strays looked alike, almost like their own breed: pointy ears, pointed muzzle, piercing black eyes, white furry coast, curved tail.

We picked up a puppy from a dairy farm in the next village, and there were at least two dogs in our neighbourhood that looked almost exactly like our dog.

There were a number of strays in the town where I lived, including right across the street at the large fishmarket. They were not nice dogs, and often tried to attack my dog; I would literally have to kick at them to make them go away. The stray dogs at the container port were particularly frightening. They lived under old flatbed trailers and would come running at you. The best thing to do was to run right at them, and hope to connect with a kick.

Stray dogs are a menace.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


luckily for me dogs can't scale a fence, but after reading about the Moscow dogs riding the trains it may just be a matter of time

You'd be surprised what they can do if they put their minds to it. I've had dogs climb (not jump, but literally climb up) chain-link fences to get me.
posted by various at 2:03 PM on January 16, 2010


Dogs climbing fences.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:22 PM on January 16, 2010


(fences) whoops.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:24 PM on January 16, 2010


Thanks, interesting article!
posted by Ly at 3:22 PM on January 16, 2010


Um, that's sick KokuRyu.

No dog that you can scare off with a kick is that dangerous. A truly aggressive will grab on an bite when attacked. Inflicting pain on an attacking dog makes him more aggressive.

A person that allows a domesticated animal to run wild with no food or shelter is a menace.
posted by beccaj at 4:15 PM on January 16, 2010


Dog Escape.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:01 PM on January 16, 2010


There were a number of strays in the town where I lived, including right across the street at the large fishmarket. They were not nice dogs, and often tried to attack my dog; I would literally have to kick at them to make them go away. The stray dogs at the container port were particularly frightening. They lived under old flatbed trailers and would come running at you. The best thing to do was to run right at them, and hope to connect with a kick.

Um, that's sick KokuRyu. No dog that you can scare off with a kick is that dangerous. A truly aggressive will grab on an bite when attacked. Inflicting pain on an attacking dog makes him more aggressive.

Look, I love dogs an insane amount. I've worked with them professionally for the better part of six years, have volunteered in shelters, and am now starting the long process of starting to knock out pre-reqs to apply to vet school. I often annoy the hell out my friends, acquaintances and the internet with how much I talk about my dog.

But I've been on the receiving end of an unknown, charging dog several times. The first time, I was walking a ~50 lb. Sheltie mix when a 80-ish lb. German Shepherd came charging off of his front porch and crossed the street at us. The dog I was walking had a serious "flight" moment, broke his own collar and ran off, with the GSD running after him. This happened in the span of about seven seconds. I knew I wasn't going to be able to run them down, so I did the only thing I could - went and banged on the front door of the house that the GSD came from. Answering the door was shirtless guy coming to the door with his jeans unbuttoned. I screamed some obscenities at him, did some pointing, and I guess let him know what happened. We both took off in the direction the dogs ran off, the next few minutes were a wheezy blur, his dog came back to his house, and luckily I found the dog I had been walking sitting on his front porch panting like hell with shit running down his backside.

Another time, I was walking a Boxer/Bulldog mix that was one of the sweetest, most submissive dogs you'd ever meet. We rounded a corner in a neighborhood to find a White Pit Bull that had bolted out of his front door and traversed the hill on his front lawn in about a second and a half. Fortunately, he was just *really* exuberant and was very friendly, but to have an animal, any animal, come at you that fast is flat-out shocking.

The only time I've had any issues while walking my dog is with a neighbor that lives around the corner from us. They have a pair of Weimars that bolt out of the garage when they come home. They'll charge straight out and cross the street with no regard whatsoever. They're not mean (just kind of crazy and, well, Weimar-y) but it pisses me off something fierce. My dog will just stand them down and do that doggie ESP "fuck off, clown" thing, but it's only a matter of time until those dogs get either hit by a passing car or charge at a dog that is going to tear into them.

Fortunately, I've never encountered an actual pack of feral dogs, but after all of the examples that I posted above, I was left with that kind of shaky adrenaline rush that you get after a car accident or something. I don't have anything against German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, or Weimars, or any breed period. I'm more comfortable around your standard Rotty or Mastiff than I am a three-year old human child. But chiding someone for reacting when they've been charged by feral animals isn't right.

I'm not saying kicking is the solution. Sometimes shouting works. Sometimes throwing a rock or stick in the general vicinity works. But the dogs KokuRyu were talking about were presumably feral, which, sadly, is a different beast.

I don't know the solution for Moscow, or Japan, or China, or even my own neighborhood. I have some ideas, sure, but they're likely impractical and idealist. But sometimes you just have to shrug and sigh and do the best you can with the dog(s) you have and admit that as awesome as the potential is, they still can be very dangerous animals.
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:10 PM on January 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


We were strongly advised against doing any kind of jogging/running outside when living in Vladivostok. Seems the packs of strays just saw that as 'sport'. Given that many of them also had rabies, it seemed prudent to heed this advice. Not that I was much of runner anyway....

Seeing them roam around the city (especially on the beaches in the neighborhood I lived in) scared me shitless.
posted by East Siberian patchbelly wrangler at 8:29 PM on January 16, 2010


Shouting does work, except when strays are attacking one's dog.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:44 PM on January 16, 2010


Sterilize or kill all of them. Cities should not have carnivores that big running loose, even if they do look like your pal Sparky.
posted by pracowity at 10:50 PM on January 16, 2010


Sterilize or kill all of them. Cities should not have carnivores that big running loose, even if they do look like your pal Sparky.

Having grown up in Moscow, I find the attitudes in this thread frankly bizarre. Is it that you people are just used to living in sanitized malls? There are many creatures in Moscow that are much more toxic and dangerous than its stray dogs, and most of them are bipedal. I don't even like dogs, but the idea of killing or sterilizing all these strays strikes me as grotesque and brutal.
posted by nasreddin at 3:25 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


the idea of killing or sterilizing all these strays strikes me as grotesque and brutal.

Killing them would be brutal, yes; sterilizing them would be humane.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:35 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


sterilizing them would be humane.

I hear this a lot, but why? The number of strays has already reached the environment's carrying capacity, so it's not like there's going to be a dog population bomb.
posted by nasreddin at 3:39 AM on January 17, 2010


Metro Dog is cool.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:03 AM on January 17, 2010


nasreddin: sterilizing them would be humane.

I hear this a lot, but why? The number of strays has already reached the environment's carrying capacity, so it's not like there's going to be a dog population bomb.


Because the fact that not an appreciable percentage will live to maturity does not stop them breeding. If you've ever watched a mother dog try to feed a pup she cannot nourish or heard a puppy starve to death or seen a stray suffering from a treatable medical condition, you'll become a fan of steilising feral animals as well.

We just went through this with cats. We were having work done in our bathroom and needed to use our tiny back garden as a tip. The morning before construction began, we found a terribly injured kitten and a cat living in the open coal shed. It was freezing (literally) and it was very unsafe for them to be out there with concrete being thrown at them.

We moved heaven and Earth to get a cat rescue to come help us at a 10PM on a Sunday. It took 12 hours of pleading and a large donation to get someone out. The mother cat was eventually trapped and the kitten picked up and we agreed to pay to spay and treat the cats, have them fostered for a week, and re-release them back into the garden where we would feed them as ferals.

The kitten had a hideous eye injury but was nursing on the tiny mother, who we were feeding. Well, it turns out that was not it's mother - the cat had no milk - and the kitten died at the vet's. It broke my heart because if I'd known, I would have fed that pitiful kitten. Evil Kitty came back 5 days later and still lives back there; she's spayed, and will never increase the stray population, and has her shots. She turns up every few days on the kitchen window, demanding room service, and we continue to not like but appreciate each other.

It's not just about numbers, although 30-50K is a massive population of strays. It's about minimising the suffering of natural selection. Nature is brutal, and humans are accepting to the point of indifference about that fact because we ourselves are largely shielded from the personal pain of that suffering except in statistically rare (population wise) instances like tsunami and earthquake.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:20 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because the fact that not an appreciable percentage will live to maturity does not stop them breeding. If you've ever watched a mother dog try to feed a pup she cannot nourish or heard a puppy starve to death or seen a stray suffering from a treatable medical condition, you'll become a fan of steilising feral animals as well.

So? Human beings starve to death in Moscow too. I'd say that it's no kinder to deny an animal the one pleasure it is likely to have in an undoubtedly cruel life. Besides, did you even read the article? Reducing the breeding of Moscow's native stray dogs only invites dogs from elsewhere to come in, and they have a lot more infectious diseases.
posted by nasreddin at 6:08 AM on January 17, 2010


Besides, did you even read the article? Reducing the breeding of Moscow's native stray dogs only invites dogs from elsewhere to come in, and they have a lot more infectious diseases.

I highly doubt this is true, despite what the article says. Furthermore, it's disingenuous. Strays aren't caused by Moscow's fertile environment - it's people not caring properly for their pets, and (obviously) the resulting breeding. Just because this happens elsewhere doesn't justify ignoring the problem. Sterilization will reduce the population humanely; if you can't go running or a dog is being aggressive in public spaces, it's a problem that needs to be addressed. When dogs get hungry enough they'll become aggressive and dangerous. They're not pets. They're feral dogs. Big difference.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:06 AM on January 17, 2010


oh poor civilized humans, can't handle the idea of wild animals roaming free and acting as they do to survive. "sterilize the streets, make em pets or kill em all if they don't behave!" funny word there: behave. look at the artificiality of our own behavior - the problem is not the dogs in the city. the problem is the city itself and the inability for its human inhabitants to coexist with other creatures in a natural way.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 7:10 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


can't handle the idea of wild animals roaming free and acting as they do to survive.

Feral domestic dogs are hardly wild animals.
posted by biscotti at 7:56 AM on January 17, 2010


cristinacristinacristina:"oh poor civilized humans, can't handle the idea of wild animals roaming free and acting as they do to survive. "sterilize the streets, make em pets or kill em all if they don't behave!" funny word there: behave. look at the artificiality of our own behavior - the problem is not the dogs in the city. the problem is the city itself and the inability for its human inhabitants to coexist with other creatures in a natural way."

I posted above about several people who have been killed by packs of stray dogs; aren't sterilization efforts "acting as we do to survive"? what does "coexist with other creatures in a natural way" mean - like on the veldt? A litter of pups starving to death is more "natural" than sterilization but I don't think it's a better outcome.

nasreddin: "So? Human beings starve to death in Moscow too."

I don't think that's the standard we should aspire to.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:06 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think that's the standard we should aspire to.

What do you mean "we," Kemosabe?
posted by nasreddin at 8:17 AM on January 17, 2010


the problem is the city itself and the inability for its human inhabitants to coexist with other creatures in a natural way.

I like animals, but that's crazy talk. You live in a city because you enjoy all of the unnatural advantages of living in a city, including the advantage of being able to step outside without becoming lunch. We don't let bears and lions and wolves walk down Main Street because we don't like to be eaten and we don't like them to eat our livestock. We don't let herds of buffalo walk through our fields because soon we would have no crops. The only large animals we encourage to live among us are the ones we use, other than a few (such as Gibraltar's apes) that are protected by superstition and the tourist dollar.

These dogs, of all creatures, are not natural. They were created by humans, they escaped from (or were discarded by) humans, and now they scavenge on human waste in a human landscape. In a better city, people would do a better job of controlling them. Make owners responsible for their pets (chip and track every dog and cat) and then encourage them to sterilize their pets.
posted by pracowity at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've lived in places that are like Moscow, places where there will never be gov funding for serious animal control and no volunteer groups to round up and spay or neuter strays.

So in this case they've done what's natural. They've embraced their furry citizens as an element of their culture. (I'm sure though, that if a local were to come across a "bad" dog, there would be no hesitation to put the animal down.
posted by snsranch at 3:43 PM on January 17, 2010


One time I was riding my bicycle through suburbs and came to a house by the side of the road with a fenced yard and a dog inside. The dog launched himself on an intercept course. "No problem," I thought, "the yard is fenced." Until I realised that there was an open gate that the dog was making for.

The uncanny thing was that the dog made no sound -- no growling or barking, just a silent streak. I have never sprinted as hard in my life, and he was gaining on me. I can't say that I knew what I was doing but I grabbed my pump and waved it in his direction, and it just happened to extend and hit him on the face. He backed off.

I love dogs, but since that day I've become a firm proponent of leash laws. Free-running predators large enough to kill humans cannot be allowed in urban areas.
posted by phliar at 3:23 PM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sterilize or kill all of them. Cities should not have carnivores that big running loose...

Exactly. They should be lining up at KFC with their money ready, like all the other carnivores.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:10 PM on January 18, 2010


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