Sochi Expedition 2017: The Rescue

Tanya Umansky, one of Sochi Dogs’ co-founders travelled to the shelter this spring. Over the next few weeks, she’ll be sharing her experience on the blog.

The Rescue

As I’m writing this, Sochi Dogs has adopted 218, Some of them stayed at the shelter just for just a couple of months and other lived there for 1- 3 years before they found forever homes. I remember all of these dogs by name and how they got to the shelter.  I created web pages with their photos and stories, often gave them names, and met many of them at JFK airport, but I never had a chance to rescue a dog myself. So I was very excited to have this opportunity during my visit to Sochi. 

Just a day before I came to Sochi Masha got a tip that the city beach will be cleaned from dogs before the season starts on June 1st and she knew of two dogs living on that beach, a mother and daughter pair. They survived on food scarps from a nearby store and cafe. 

Time was running out and next evening Masha and I drove to the beach.  We parked quite far and started looking for dogs.


We walked around search but there were no dogs and almost no people. We started to worry that we will not see them today.  And suddenly success - they appeared out of nowhere. They came to us but they did not want to go with us. It took some convincing but we were able to catch them and carry them to the car. 


They looked a bit stressed when we arrived to the shelter.  We put them separately in a closed kennel and gave them lots of food and water.


Now Sandy and Julie are safe, fed and loved at the shelter. But the last big step is ahead - we need to find them a family.  These girls are friendly, social and very attached to each other. Ideally, we would want them to be adopted together.  


Sochi Expedition 2017: The Shelter

Tanya Umansky, one of Sochi Dogs’ co-founders travelled to the shelter this spring. Over the next few weeks, she’ll be sharing her experience on the blog.

The Shelter

On a slope of a mountain, behind an 8-foot high fence, at the end of a long road, sits the Sochi Dogs Shelter. This place has been a safe haven for almost 300 dogs already.  I had the opportunity to spend time at this amazing place, but before I tell you what I did, I want to give you a sense of how everything works.

The dogs get to the shelter hungry, scared, dirty, infected with parasites and sometimes injured. First, they get a bath. There is a small bathroom with a little tub in the corner.  After that, they stay in a special quarantine area until they are ready and it's safe for them to join the other dogs.

The bathroom is also used as a living space for a few “special” dogs, who do not stay in the kennels and for as many dogs as possible in the winter time when it's cold out. It’s hard to tell what gives someone the privilege to be a special dog, but Vlada and Masha decide!

Most of the dogs stay in kennels, 2 to 5 dogs together.  The kennels are very simple, there are dog houses on a concrete floor. Due to Sochi’s temperate climate, they are not heated. Everyday (weather permitting), dogs go out in groups to have free play and time to run around on the grass field.  

Masha cleans the kennels, a few times a day!  I try to help, believe me, it's not an easy job. I can’t imagine how difficult it is in winter.

Now onto food, the most important part of shelter life according to any dog you ask! There is a “dog kitchen” with two gas stoves, two gas tanks, and a freezer.   Masha makes 6 to 8 high pots of stew every day. It takes about 3 hours to cook.  The stew is made from oats with beef or chicken, sunflower oil and carrots.  The pots are huge! They are very heavy to lift.  Masha lifts them and pours them into buckets to distribute around the shelter.

With so much work, the day at the shelter starts early, around 7 AM.  First, we visit the puppy area where Vlad is the permanent supervisor.  The special dog team wants to go with us,  but we ask them to stay outside.


After we check in on everyone, the cooking starts. Cooking and cleaning take almost two-thirds of the day. In the afternoon it's time for training, brushing, shopping, taking a dog to the vet or very rare short break.

Sometimes potential adopters ask us, what toys the dog would like, or what kind of food does it prefer or what kind of bed would be better for her/him.  Or some people even say, “they look so happy maybe they do not want to leave the shelter.” Believe me, they will like and appreciate any food you give them, they will be very happy sleeping on dog bed (or your bed would be even better) and they will love just hanging out with you. They are wonderfully smart and they want to have a family to love more than anything else.
Please consider adopting a rescue dog from our shelter or any other shelter.


Tigger's Journey Home

When Tigger, (now Yuri) was sitting on a stoop as a tiny puppy in October 2014, he probably never imagined that one day he'd have his very own home—food just for him, a soft bed to sleep on, and more love than he could ever imagine, but it would be a long road to get there. 


Yuri spent two and a half years at the shelter, that's about 974 days! He watched dogs come and go. Some days new dogs would show up looking frightened after just being picked up on the street and he'd try to play with them. Other days his best buddies would be getting groomed and whisked off to their forever homes. Through it all Yuri waited patiently, playing with Platon, greeting newcomers, and quietly sleeping in his dog house. 

On one of those ordinary days as Yuri paced around his run, Sochi Dogs received an email that would change his life forever! Dan-Michel had been quietly following Yuri's story for a little while, waiting for the right time to adopt. Things just weren't lining up, but he knew Yuri couldn't wait to go home, so Dan-Michel took the plunge.

It was finally Yuri's turn to get groomed and taken on a long car ride to the airport. Yuri arrived at JFK Airport on Saturday, June 17, 2017, and just like he had been a regular road-tripper hopped into Tanya's car and enjoyed the scenery all the way up to Lake George, NY where he met Dan-Michel, his new best friend. 


Yuri lives on the outskirts of Montreal, Canada and for the first time in his life he is sleeping on the soft bed and dreaming of his shelter friends find their forever homes too! 

Sochi Expedition 2017:  The Road to the Shelter

Tanya Umansky, one of Sochi Dogs’ cofounders traveled to the shelter this spring. Over the next few weeks she’ll be sharing her experience on the blog.

From New York to Vienna, Vienna to Moscow and Moscow to Sochi

and I finally make it to Sochi! I couldn’t be happier! Visiting the shelter had been my dream for the last 3 years.  Vlada meets me at the airport and the first thing she says to me is, “Quick lets go, I just saw a dog on the opposite side of the highway.” We drive very slowly looking for the dog but unfortunately it ran away.  Our next stop, the old part of Sochi, a small resort town on the Black Sea. It’s lively with tons of palm trees and shops lining the streets  We have a quick lunch at a local café, load the car with the groceries and of course stop by a pet store. Vlada says she can’t go to the shelter without bringing treats! There are no Petcos or PetsMarts or anything even comparable in Sochi.  The pet store is tiny. We are able to find some treats but they were oh so expensive. Finally we are ready for our destination — the shelter

From Sochi to Adler there is a modern highway. Then we turn off towards the shelter and then the road goes through villages, fields, along a small cemetery, passing some abandoned buildings, and finally through a patch of woods to reach the shelter gates.

The last few miles of the road we’ve been calling the “abandoned dog road” because we’ve found so many dogs here. Since very few people know to spay their dogs, many drop-off unwanted puppies in these woods because its far from town so they won’t be able to make back.

This is where we found Nellie, Hanna and her puppies Tula (Chenna), Ginger (Marina), Daisy (Deshka), and Nuka, just last week Simcha was dropped of here in a box, among many others.

The road ends at the shelter gates. As you can see from the photos, you need to be a very experience driver and have 4-wheel drive if you want to drive through.  If there is ice or snow even a 4-wheel drive vehicle won’t get you there.

The Shelter

Vlada goes in to open the gate. The shelter is set on the slope of a mountain and its surrounded by an 8-foot fence.

I haven’t seen the shelter but I know and love this place!  The gate is opened and I walk inside.  Masha  meets up with Sierra, Trixie, Marsha, Katya and Josie. First Vlada, goes to hug her favorite dog, Katya and then everyone else gets treats.  

The dogs in the kennels want to greet us too and they are barking as loud as they can to tell us. After saying hello, we go inside the cottage where Masha lives and where I’ll be staying. I give Vlada and Masha the posters with notes and photos from our adopters. We reminisce about the dogs already in homes and how each of them were rescued. We can’t chat for long, there is lots of work to be done!