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Like Human Commuters in Moscow, Stray Dogs Get On and Off at Destinations

Updated on April 13, 2009

Moscow's stray dogs can often be spotted traveling on the subway, waiting patiently for a train to pull in and its doors to slide open. It is true. They seem to know where to get on and off.

 They curl up on empty seats, nuzzling their neighbors, lounging in stations, and just lying about waiting for a kind touch or free handout. Now, a group of zoologists study Moscow's stray dogs and how they're adapting to a rapidly changing city. In traffic congested Moscow, strays have learned to cross the street with pedestrians. They can also be seen occasionally waiting for a green light.  The old factories are being transformed into shopping centers and apartment blocks, their native ground, so strays have become more avid and skillful beggars. They have developed strategies such as a come-from-behind ambush technique: A big dog sneaks up silently behind a man eating on the street and barks. The startled man drops his food. The dog eats it. It works quite often to an unsuspecting busy person. Of course there is the lying-in-wait technique: which is simply to lie in a busy subway passage, where thousands of people pass by, and wait for someone to toss them something. The dogs get fed without even having to nuzzle a leg or make noise. It works very well!

Many dogs ignore discarded morsels, because the animals know they can afford to be finicky and they never go hungry. One favorite hangout is the local butcher shop near the subways where scraps are freely tossed and devoured. Since 2006, more than 26,000 stray dogs can be found around Moscow's subways and streets. Many of the dogs operate in packs, like wolves, but are human friendly and seeking sheltered or food. Attacks on humans are rare, but do occur. Moscow has spent $64,000,000 to build new animal shelters, yet many Moscovites like the strays, they have become part of the Moscow subway system.

Basically, the stray dogs lie about in the station. They do not beg but wait for human beings to toss out their unused scraps of food as they rush to the train. Maybe the dog follows, going to a more rich food environment where the meal is more delicious. Not a bad life for a stray.


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