SOCHI, Russia – When a few thousand journalists descend on any location, issues start emerging. For instance: The treatment of stray dogs in Sochi, Russia. I’m thinking there are more stray dogs in, say, Moscow, and I’m thinking it’s a bigger issue in Moscow, but a few thousand journalists are currently residing in Sochi.
This is not a knock on journalists. When we arrive at a destination, we bring our own standards, our own sensibilities.
Stray dogs are everywhere in Sochi. Strays wander at the Sochi airport. Strays wander around the hotels in the mountains east of Sochi.
One quick note about disputed reports that strays are being killed in Sochi. If officials are looking to rid Sochi of stray dogs, wouldn’t they start at the airport? You know, the place where virtually all of the visiting journalists arrive and depart? I saw three strays roaming right outside the doors of the airport on Wednesday. I saw the same three strays on Thursday.
I’m a dog person, and seeing these strays troubles me. But the dogs looked happy and healthy. They were friendly.
Russians appear to deal with their stray dogs in a different way than we do in America. We place our strays in shelters. Russians, from my brief time of observation here, spontaneously feed the strays that roam the streets.
I will try to avoid judgement about social customs during my time here. Americans have a problem with unwanted dogs. So do the residents of Sochi, Russia. We deal with our problem one way. The Russians deal with their problem in a different way.
Dog lovers feel a pang of sorrow whenever a stray is in my line of sight. Dogs have been led, over the centuries, to rely on us, humans, to protect and feed and care for them. Dogs, in turn, offer devotion and obedience and what appears to be genuine love. When we, humans, let dogs down in our part of this bargain, it’s painful to watch.
Strays bother me. That’s for sure.
I watched a Russian woman feed the happy, healthy and friendly stray on Thursday, and I was less bothered. The Russians have their ways. We have our ways.