Bolshoi in Russia: Stray dogs in Moscow’s metro

Greetings from Moscow! Bolshoi in Russia is my variation on Big in Japan. (Bolshoi means “Big” in Russian. Get it?) Stay tuned for my live dispatches from Russia this week.

Just as I was wondering why there are so many stray dogs everywhere in Moscow (including the subway), this Wall Street Journal article came to my rescue. Moscow estimates the population of stray dogs at about 26,000.

Apparently, “in Soviet times, dogs were barred from Moscow’s metro. Today, however, they are so common there — curling up on empty seats, nuzzling their neighbors, lounging in stations — that there is even a Web site devoted to them:” (Couldn’t have said it better myself.)

I just got back from subway trip in which there was a dog literally queuing at the train door on the platform, just like everyone else. The weird thing is, these dogs actually look like they know where they’re going. They seem to wait for “their” stop to come up. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit, but…

According to the article’s sources (including a zoologist), the main reason for the exploding dog population is the ease of getting food nowadays. “One of their chief tactics, made possible by their increasing comfort in crowds, is simply to lie in a busy subway passage, where thousands of people pass by, and wait for someone to toss them something.” And, just as Muscovites toss (and I mean literally toss) food or money at homeless people (and I mean AT them), they toss some at dogs, as well. Egalitarian society at its best.

From Russia, with love.