A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.

  –  Nelson Mandela  

Sochi dog

The Olympics are a wonderful thing: at the very least, we learn about corners of the world that we may not have been familiar with prior to the arrival of the Olympic torch: Calgary, Lillehammmer, Sarajevo, and now Sochi.  We get a glimpse of life outside of our United States. Unfortunately, like in America, life is not always sunshine and lollipops.  Aside from a myriad of other issues, one sprung up that was quite astounding: the stray dog population.  Images of dogs roaming the streets, as dense a population as, say, squirrels here in Lakewood, Ohio.

As like most other humans, I was horrified! So many people tried to spring into action to save these dogs prior to their (grotesque) extermination (they were declared “vermin”).  Stories arose of people from the U.S. making the trip to Sochi to try to save as many dogs as they could bring home.  Athletes bringing home more than medals.  Wonderful, wonderful humans stepping up to fly to the rescue.

Something that bothers me, though.  One tiny nit.  Have these Americans ever heard of Detroit?  Current estimates state that there are over 4,000 dogs currently struggling on the streets of Sochi.  Detroit has over 7,500.  Yes, Detroit.  Only 3 hours from where I live.  Did it somehow become more glamours to spend money and time to rescue one or two dogs from a foreign country, ignoring the fact the same resources could have saved 7-8 in Detroit?  I can understand athletes bringing home dogs:  a thing once seen cannot be unseen.  I probably would have done the same if I stumbled across a stray dog, no matter where I was.

Most of us are here, though.  Most of us have resources to aid in the rescue of at least 2-4 dogs here. I don’t mean bringing a new dog home, I mean financially or through volunteering.  All dogs are equal.  We love them all, no matter what breed, size, or, uh, nationality (if such a thing exists with dogs).  If all things are equal among dogs, then I choose to spend my resources rescuing as many as I can, not just the ones who have appeared on CNN.

One image is from Sochi.  The other is from Detroit.  Can you tell which?

Since the Olympics, things have gotten a little better for the Sochi dogs (having the international eye upon you has that effect).  Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has opened a shelter for the dogs, and it appears the seeds of long term commitment to the welfare of Sochi dogs has been sown.  Is it Best Friends Animal Sanctuary?  Of course not, but Best Friends didn’t even start out as, well, Best Friends.  Everything needs time to mature and adapt.

The images still coming through from CNN about the Sochi dogs still indeed break my heart.  I want nothing more than to rescue them all.  But I realize I can’t.  It makes no sense for me to use vast amounts of resources for one dog, when those same resources can make such a difference to so many dogs here in Cleveland. In Austin.  In Detroit.  It’s a tough thing to do, putting the needs of the many before the needs of the few.  But in continuing this way, using rational thought instead of emotional reaction, soon there will be no needs at all.




Kerry Stack
Dog Training
Cleveland Ohio

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