This is a website dedicated to the stray dogs of the Russian metro. Passengers post photos etc showing the dogs using public transport.
There is one special sub-group of strays that stands apart from the rest: Moscow’s metro dogs. ‘The metro dog appeared for the simple reason that it was permitted to enter’, says Andrei Neuronov, an author and specialist in animal behaviour and psychology…’This began in the late 1980’s during perestroika’, he says, ‘when more food appeared people began to live better and feed the strays’. The dogs started by riding on overground trains and buses where supervisors were becoming increasingly thin on the ground.
Neuronov says there are some 500 strays that live in the metro stations, especially during the colder months, but only 20 have learned how to ride the trains. This happened gradually, first as a way to broaden their territory. Later, it became a way of life. ‘Why should they go by foot if they can move around by public transport?’
‘They orient themselves in a number of ways…They figure out where they are by smell, by recognising the name of the station from the recorded announcer’s voice and by time intervals. If, for example, you come every Monday and feed a dog, that dog will know when it’s Monday and the hour to expect you, based on their sense of time intervals from their biological clocks.’
The metro dog also has uncannily good instincts about people, happily greeting kindly passers by , but slinking down the furthest escalator to avoid the intolerant older women who oversee the metro’s electronic turnstiles. ‘Right outside this metro’, say Neuronov, gesturing toward Frunzenskaya station, a short distance from the park where we were speaking, ‘a black dog sleeps on a mat. He’s called Malish. And this is what I saw one day: a bowl of freshly ground beef set before him, and slowly, and ever so lazily, he scooped it up with his tongue while lying down.’
From: Susanne Sternthal, “A wolf in dog’s clothing”. FT Weekend January 16/17 2010, pp.24-29.