russian stray dogs

Moscow’s stray dogs use the city’s subway system. They get on and off their stops.

April 20, 2016

Moscow’s stray dogs use the city’s subway system. They have learnt to get on and off their required stop for surviving the man-made wilderness.

 Among Moscow’s large population of homeless canines, a few of them have habituated themselves with using the subway / metro transportation system with utmost ease to commute between stations. The human commuters have become so used to travelling with these canines, that they rarely seem to notice.

How did it start?

This issue was first brought up in the late 19th century. Biologist and wolf expert, Dr. Andrei Poyarkov, who has studied Moscow’s feral dogs for over 30 years says, “In Moscow there are all sorts of stray dogs, but… there are no stupid dogs.”

 About 35000 stray dogs live is Russia’s capital city, most dogs are born homeless, others find their place in the streets on being rejected or abandoned as house pets.

Why do they use subways?

 Taking the subway is just one of many tactics the stray dogs have resorted to, for surviving in this manmade wilderness. The streets are tough and their canine instinct has made them realize the fact, “Survival of the fittest”. They have learnt to use escalators, get in line with the white collars and have trained themselves to find a spot to lay low even in the hustle and bustle of the daily commuters. They don’t mind the loud roar of loudspeakers on the metro (which the domesticated dogs cannot handle) for nobody wants to spoil their mornings when going for work. Yes, they work too.

They commute between various stations to find scraps of food that will help them survive. After a tiresome day of scavenging and begging on the street, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night.

The Moscow Metro is the second most heavily used mode of transport by daily ridership. On an average, about 500 dogs live in its stations, especially during the colder months. Of these, about 20 are believed to have mastered themselves in using the metro.

Theories to explain how they are able to correctly determine their routes include:

  • An ability to judge the length of time spent on trains in between stations.
  • Recognition of the names of places announced over their train’s loudspeaker.
  • Their sense of smell that tells them of the scents of particular stations.

This intelligent behavior demonstrated by the dogs has been described by many who study animal intelligence as what people might call “Flexible open-ended reasoning and conscious thought.”

 So, next time you see a dog taking a metro, don’t be surprised. 🙂

-By Pallavi Banik