The Tail of Two Cities...

I was on the Board for many years of the Humane Society here in Burlington and one of the things in life you learn is, there are dog people and there are cat people and there are not that many who are both dog and cat people.  Spoiler alert - I am a dog person.

Here are two interesting bits of information.  Tel Aviv-Jaffa, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, considers itself the most dog friendly city in the world. With a population of only 432,000 it has one dog per every 14 residents.  There are lavish dog friendly events – see below.  

If you are a cat however life is not so easy.  It is estimated that there are between 40,000 and 100,000 stray cats in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and they are continually being rounded up, spayed and neutered and released back into the wild. Although there are plenty of affectionate cat owners in the Israeli city, it is the dogs who are the rock stars.

Here in the U.S. we have stray (feral) cats but not many stray dogs. In the rest of the world the picture is very different. It is estimated that there are 250 million pet dogs on the planet. But there are another 750 million street dogs who scavenge where they can. Some are quasi-house or neighborhood dogs. Some are truly just in the wild. Travel to any Emerging country and youwill see this.

Moscow is an interesting case. Over the past 20 years many dogs have come to live in subway stations and tunnels.  The temperature is agreeable and you have a big population base to support scavenging.  The New Yorker back in 2013 wrote of a Russian scientist who has studied Moscow’s strays.  He identifies three types of “metro” dogs:  dogs who live in the subway but do not travel, dogs who use the subway to travel short distances and then dogs who actually ‘commute’.  He found some dogs have learned to travel to outlying stations, find food, and then find their way back to the original station. Amazing.

Many street dogs will die for lack of food, but as a breed they have become superbly adapted scavengers. They are not the biggest or strongest animals but they don’t need to be; they don’t bring down prey. They have acquired the greatest superpower of all, the power to convince humans to feed them.