Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Dogs of Moscow

In the Capital of Russia as many as 35,000 stray dogs roam the streets, ride the subway and beg for food—its all part of the culture of Moscow. The dogs, apparently abandoned due to economic conditions, have learned to survive quite well.

Dr. Andrei Poyarkov of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute started studying the stray dogs in 1979. He identified several sub-groups of strays throughout the city, each living in unique conditions and foraging for food in their own way.

The most notable sub-group is Moscow's metro dogs. Some 500 dogs claim the metro as their home particularly in the colder months. An estimated 20 even ride the metro. Using all their senses, these precocious riders have mastered when to get on, when to get off, who will feed them and whom to avoid. There's even a website dedicated to the metro dogs where commuters share photos and videos of their fav stray. Some strays become such as icon they are given names.

The most famous metro dog is now memorialized with a statue in the Mendeleevskaya Station. Malchik, a black stray, lived in the station and provided protection from drunks and other dogs. A few years ago a psychotic 22-year-old model stabbed Malchik, as shocked rush-hour commuters looked on. The incident brought a barrage of sympathy that sparked an effort to erect a monument to Malchik. Called Compassion the bronze statue stands vigil at the entrance to the station Malchik called home.

The Financial Times of London published a lengthy article in January covering much of the history of the ensconced dogs. The informative story establishes that the strays have become a part of the culture in Moscow. Wherein our culture we encourage capturing and adopting stray dogs, studies show that removing the Moscow dogs would upset the balance. Plus theses dogs have now survived for generations in their respective environments rendering them unsuitable for adoption.

Feeling like adopting a stray after reading this post? Contact my fav site—Central California Labrador Retriever Rescue. We got our Brandy from them. Having just had puppies, she was found wandering the streets of Sacramento wearing only a choke chain. Now she sits in her cushy bed snoring away as I type.


  1. Moscow has quite a Metro dog shelter. :) This is an amazing story! I love it.

  2. I like this post very much. And I am really glad you wrote it. Because I am a rescue dog too from the Sacramento shelter. They said I was unadoptable. You can find a lot of dog rescue links on my website too. If anybody would like to find them, or read about my story, it's at

    From Sammy

  3. Thanks for visiting, Sammy, and mentioning more links to dog rescue sites. Brandy and I are happy that you have found your forever home.



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