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.


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!