Moscow’s subway dogs
Who needs a metro card?
In Russia, Moscow’s subway dogs are well known but in other countries, the incredible story has not yet been heard. As most people know, dogs are pack animals. As such, they travel in numbers with one dog being the leader or alpha. The pack mentality is what kIeeps these animals alive in many situations, but dogs have now become self-sufficient in the heart of Moscow in a very unique way.
History of Moscow’s Subway Dogs
To better understand the story, it helps to start by learning the history of these resourceful dogs. During the Soviet period, there were strict regulations pertaining to stray dogs. Unfortunately, most animals were destroyed with only the quiet and meek surviving. However, even those dogs were often captured, killed, and skinned, using the fur to make caps worn during the cold Russian winters. Sadly, some of the dogs that were allowed to live became subjects of scientific experimentation.
At this point, Moscow’s subway dogs were non-existent. Instead, stray dogs became part of private experiments being conducted by university students who provided reward in exchange for good behavior. Then by the 1990s, money from oil reached Russia, which increased wealth. As a result, there was a greater amount of garbage being thrown out, making it easier for stray dogs to find food.
The more resources that became available, the more breeding took place. This growing population of stray animals started moving underground to escape the harsh winter months but to reach areas of the city above ground where food was in greater abundance, the dogs learned how to move about the subway to include going up and down escalators. Although tough regulations had been in effect for some time, workers of the subway system started to feed the dogs opposed to killing them or shooing them away.
Interestingly, three specific types of Moscow’s subway dogs emerged to include:
- Dogs that rode the subway over short distances opposed to walking
- Dogs that rode to and from destinations while entertaining workers and riders
- Dogs that rode longer distances, making emotional connections with humans while being given food
Current Status of Moscow’s Subway Dogs
Regulations that were enforced during the Soviet Period are all but gone. Because of this, the stray dog population now has a free existence but even so, the future of these unique animals remains unknown. For instance, the metro system has a new director who does not care for the dogs and even vigilante groups have placed poison in parks as a way to kill the strays. These two things have led to a decline in the number of dogs that ride Russia’s subway system but many animal experts believe these dogs have gained too much knowledge and become so street savvy that they will continue to thrive.
On the other side is a group of subway workers and riders who have grown to love these animals. Adding to the mystic, someone created a website that features both photos and stories about the various dogs that ride the subway. People who have personally interacted with Moscow’s subway dogs agree that these creatures are highly intelligent, engaging, and different from the standard domesticated or wild dog. One difference is that instead of traveling in packs, the animals usually travel alone.
Today, guards try to keep Moscow’s subway dogs at bay, blocking them from getting on the escalators but even these people feel very torn. While they know it is their duty to keep the subways free of animals, they have learned to respect the dogs for being so resourceful. As the story of these amazing animals spreads around the globe, more and more dog experts agree these dogs possess a rare cleverness unlike anything seen before.
For instance, specific patterns have been identified. Not only have these animals mastered the escalators, they show up on schedule, go to front or back subway cars with the least amount of noise and activity, and the dogs often sleep in the cars during the coldest temperatures as a way of staying warm.
However, even more intriguing is the fact that these stray dogs jump into the cars just seconds before the doors close, almost to show off incredible timing and skill, they follow traffic lights when crossing streets to avoid being hit by cars, and to win sympathy for mouth-watering snacks, they play with children. Without being taught, Moscow’s subway dogs have learned to survive in a challenging world by using modern technology.
Because of the way that these dogs use different systems, animal experts throughout the world started studying them. After all, it appears there are many great lessons that can be learned from Moscow’s subway dogs, not only in connection with animal behavior but perhaps human behavior as well.