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Moscow’s Commuting Dogs

In Moscow, it seems there is an outbreak of commuting dogs. According to England’s Sun (the U.K.’s most eminently respected trashy tabloid):

STRAY dogs are commuting to and from a city centre on underground trains in search of food scraps.

The clever canines board the Tube each morning.

After a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night.

Like so many things, it seems we have the oligarchs to blame:

Scientists believe the phenomenon began after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, and Russia’s new capitalists moved industrial complexes from the city centre to the suburbs.

Dr Andrei Poiarkov, of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute, said: “These complexes were used by homeless dogs as shelters, so the dogs had to move together with their houses. Because the best scavenging for food is in the city centre, the dogs had to learn how to travel on the subway – to get to the centre in the morning, then back home in the evening, just like people.”

They seem to share a few tricks with New York-subway riders:

Dr Poiarkov told how the dogs like to play during their daily commute. He said: “They jump on the train seconds before the doors shut, risking their tails getting jammed. They do it for fun. And sometimes they fall asleep and get off at the wrong stop.”

(as a quick aside, this put me in mind of my friend James, who reported to me that after recently attending the Everton F.A. Cup loss — like the bulk of those attending he was absolutely soused — he later awoke to mysteriously find himself on a train bound for Liverpool, with two half-eaten baguettes in his pockets, and his first thought was to wonder who had put them there)

Not to mention NYC con artists, in a K9 version of the old “mustard scam”:

And they use cunning tactics to obtain tasty morsels of shawarma, a kebab-like snack popular in Moscow.

They sneak up behind people eating shawarmas – then bark loudly to shock them into dropping their food.

When on the prowl for shawarma, it seems they are conscientious users of the road traffic infrastructure:

The dogs have learned to use traffic lights to cross the road safely, said Dr Poiarkov.

(apparently they look for the position of the light, being color-blind)

It seems the Muscovy canines aren’t the only committed users of public transport:

The Moscow mutts are not the first animals to use public transport. In 2006 a Jack Russell in Dunnington, North Yorks, began taking the bus to his local pub in search of sausages.

And two years ago passengers in Wolverhampton were stunned when a cat called Macavity started catching the 331 bus to a fish and chip shop.

As they’re already riding the subway anyway, perhaps there’s some way to, er, train these dogs for bomb sniffing?

Thanks, I'll get the next one...
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This entry was posted on Friday, June 12th, 2009 at 1:04 pm and is filed under Cities, Commuting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Moscow’s Commuting Dogs”

  1. Gary K. Says:

    Wow, just wow.

  2. Gary K. Says:

    Tracked down this article about this from about a year ago from a somewhat more reliable source.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121123197068805001.html

  3. Bossi Says:

    That was something I had noticed during my time in Russia & Ukraine: the dogs were among the best pedestrians I’d ever seen in any country. Tough times have taught them well.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

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