Russians can go nutty when it comes to dogs. Consider the incident a few years ago that involved Yulia Romanova, a 22-year-old model. On a winter evening, Romanova was returning with her beloved Staffordshire terrier from a visit to a designer who specialises in kitting out canine Muscovites in the latest fashions. The terrier was sporting a new green camouflage jacket as he walked with his owner through the crowded Mendeleyevskaya metro station. There they encountered Malchik, a black stray who had made the station his home, guarding it against drunks and other dogs. Malchik barked at the pair, defending his territory. But instead of walking away, Romanova reached into her pink rucksack, pulled out a kitchen knife and, in front of rush-hour commuters, stabbed Malchik to death.

Romanova was arrested, tried and underwent a year of psychiatric treatment. Typically for Russia, this horror story was countered by a wellspring of sympathy for Moscow’s strays. A bronze statue of Malchik, paid for by donations, now stands at the entrance of Mendeleyevskaya station. It has become a symbol for the 35,000 stray dogs that roam Russia’s capital – about 84 dogs per square mile. You see them everywhere. They lie around in the courtyards of apartment complexes, wander near markets and kiosks, and sleep inside metro stations and pedestrian passageways. You can hear them barking and howling at night. And the strays on Moscow’s streets do not look anything like the purebreds preferred by status-conscious Muscovites. They look like a breed apart.

Read the rest of this article about Laika's descendants at

THE FINANCIAL TIMES. It is mostly about the research work of Andrei Poyarkov and what he has discovered about their societies and the way they relate to humans. However, the most fascinating part of the article is when it talks about the benefits of having these wild dogs in Moscow and how the local government is trying to protect them. In this it is a very similar situation to the policy of human/wildlife integration in Anchorage, Alaska.

I live in a country where my ancestors systematically wiped out most of our native mammalian species. We are now beginning to really regret their actions for both aesthetic and environmental reasons. We have even started reintroducing some species, either deliberately, like we have done with beavers or accidentally, like we have done with wild boar. I'd love to see wolves reintroduced throughout Britain. For a start they might help to get rid of those fecking, yankie, grey squirrels!

Thanks to Sam Norton for sending

this article in to MadPriest Towers.



  1. I think you want something that climbs trees or flies for catching gray squirrels though foxes are apparently fairly good predators. Best bet is encourage your local hawks (and cats).

  2. There are no squirrels in Monterrey. I guess the surrounding desert has proven too great a barrier. As has the Rio Bravo. They have grey squirrels in Laredo, TX, but not in Nuevo Laredo, TM. I noticed that the Niagara River also proves a barrier. They have grey squirrels in Buffalo, NY, but black squirrels in Windsor, ON.

    How do you get rid of Sky Rats? We have more than a fair share of goddamned pigeons here in Monterrey!

  3. Ah, squirrel haters, are you? I raised two of the cutest little devils that were brought in the cat door by the late, great Mu-man. They went with me everywhere for their first four months of life since they had to be fed every three hours around the clock. Fr. Fields said they came to Mass more that many communicants of our church. More than a few birds benefited from the squirrel feeders I kept full for the eight years after I returned them to the wild. (An expert at the Squirrels’ Place in Muskogee, GA, told me they would live 6–8 years max in the wild.) They’re furry and cute; they’re smart enough to thwart almost any device guaranteed to keep them out of feeders; they’re a barrel of fun to watch. I don’t understand why people don’t like them.

  4. You’d like my dog, Jonathon. I got her when my daughter was about 15 months old, and just starting to walk. The dog was already full grown–a rescue from the local shelter. One day, I was on the phone and looked out the door to see my little daughter and Betsy the shepherd-collie mix walking companionably in the back yard. Betsy looked very proud of herself and Natalie had a rapturous smile on her face. Then I saw the dead squirrel my daughter was holding by the tail, and the idyll was over. Betsy had caught it, killed it, and presented it as a love-gift to my small child!

  5. Can one be simultaneously disgusted, horrified AND impressed?

    Here in the States, a “22-year-old model” would probably whine to one of her hangers-on about swatting a fly. They make a serious tougher (not to mention psycho) breed of models in Russiya!

    [And her designer-dog was not a Chihuahua or Yorkie, but a Staffordshire terrier?! I’m sure Malchik was more afraid of it, than the other way ’round (When poor Malchik SHOULD have been most afraid of the bitch on the other end of the leash. >:-/)]

  6. Oh, BooCat, you silly lump. There ain’t nothing wrong with you bringing up yankie critters in yankie land. And I would never harm our sweet little red squizzels. But I would take a shot gun to those grey American colonialists as quickly as, no doubt, your boys would have pointed a shotgun at a redcoat during your war of independence.

    You see, you Americans, and this includes your squirrels, just can’t share. You have to take over and make it grey squirrel land in your own image. Your grey squirrels are like furry MacDonald’s franchises springing up all over the place and forcing out the old independent traders. But in the squirrels case its the red squirrels they have forced out nearly to the point of extinction.

  7. We had some recent student visitors from England who were fascinated by our black squirrels (color variant of the grays).

  8. You mean “Yankee”, of course, and that damnable rodent is a problem in the Pacific Northwest where it was also “introduced.” Fortunately, it seems to prefer to live in the urban and suburban areas, leaving the “wilds” to the Douglas and Western gray squirrels (Though thriving elsewhere, the Western Gray is threatened in Washington State.). I don’t think that wolves would have much impact on the population, as our local coyotes don’t seem to be a threat to our invaders. Now, birds of prey, that might be another matter.

  9. A propos wild animals — I just had the delight-full experience of watching a pair of red foxes cavort in our back pasture (not ours except spiritually) and then wander up onto our deck and look around.

    Love creatures. (our squirrels have tufted ears and are rather cute — are they included in the anathema?)

  10. MP – something is VERY wrong with your red squirrels – is it a whiny, British thing? Here in the U.P. the red squirrels rule the manor – they chase away grey and black squirrels twice their size. They are by far the gang bangers of squirrel land. Perhaps there has been too much in breeding amongst your feeble Brit red squirrels?

  11.      This is so sad.

         And re. our gray squirrels, MP, one hears they are getting the upper hand. History repeating itself?

  12. I can’t argue with you there, Renz. Our red squirrels are a bunch of pansies. Personally, as you know, I have no problem with pansies. I find them quite cute.