Last month, Auster linked to a New York Times photostream of one hundred and two champions from this year’s Westminster Dog Show: “Best of Breed.” The Scottish Deerhound Hickory won best in show. If you are interested, the Westminster Kennel Club site has a nice overview of its recognized breeds.
I was raised to love dogs, and I find people who do not appreciate them bizarre and alien. They really are man’s best friend, being so complementary to us and like us in many interesting ways. As an example, consider the recent viral video of dogs among the wreckage in Japan:
Like most Americans, I was pretty shaken by the events on September 11, but I did not weep until I watched a television interview of a blind man whose seeing eye dog helped him escape the World Trade Center before the towers fell. My heart and mind were numb and overwhelmed until then, but the simple beauty of the relationship between the man and his dog in contrast to the horror and destruction of that day moved me to tears. And I am a sucker for dog stories. One of the comments about the Japanese dog video that I read somewhere stated that the dog was one of God’s greatest gifts to man. I do not think that such is hyperbole. They are magnificent creatures.
Remembering the ubiquitous stray dog when Aaron and I visited Moscow, I decided to see what I could find online about the собаках. Evidently, there are around thirty-five thousand stray dogs in the Russian capital, which beggars exploit, soldiers feed, and urban naturalists study. One such scientist is biologist Andrei Poyarkov, who describes the dogs’ feralization in the Financial Times, “Moscow’s stray dogs.” Canine society fascinates me, and the Moscows dogs show how these animals that have been domesticated for so long can occupy a middle ground between human civilization and the wild, moving between two worlds as necessary for survival. The smartest of the dogs have learnt to use the extensive subway system to travel around the city; read “In Moscow’s Metro, a Stray Dog’s Life Is Pretty Cushy, and Zoologists Notice” in the Wall Street Journal. There is even a website where commuters may share their photographs of the Metro mutts.
The Financial Times article mentions that a disturbed fashion model killed one of the beloved “guards” at Mendeleevskaya station, which caused quite a bit of outrage. The station’s workers and commuters had named the dog Malchik, who had been staying at the station for three years. In response, Malchik’s bipedal admirers donated money to erect a statue of the dog in the station, about which you may read on the Moscow Metro’s site: “The unveiling of «Compassion» monument to stray pets.” The episode calls Balto to mind. Yes—Russkies and Americans are quite similar in many interesting ways.
I wrote this entry last week while deferring my response to Kristor. Then, on Monday of this week, I noticed a story on the Drudge Report: “Activists fight plan to deport Moscow’s stray dogs” Perhaps, Auster is right when he theorizes about mental connections. Sometimes, large numbers of people oddly end up on the same thought plane at the same time.