SHORT: STRAY DOGS LEARN TO USE THE MOSCOW SUBWAY TO GET AROUND

Of the 35,000 stray dogs in Moscow, a couple dozen have learned to use the city’s subway system to get around. Every morning like clockwork, the dogs board the trains with other commuters living outside the city and travel into town to begin their daily routine. The metro dogs go about their business of looking for food scraps and begging for food. At the end of the day, along with their human counterparts, they board the trains and return to the suburbs where they live.[1]

The dogs have learned how to get off one train and hop on another to get where they want to go. They are regulars, familiar to the humans with whom they share their daily commute. Scientists studying the phenomena say the dogs have adapted to their world by recognizing and responding to human signals. In other words, they watch us and learn. They’ve learned to navigate the subway.

Much of their behavior is still a mystery, but researchers believe that these metro dogs have developed coping mechanisms similar to people. Stray dogs want food. People are a food source. Lots of people in the city during the day means lots of food.

The dogs have also learned to put on a big-eyed,pleading expression for food. Some have learned the strategy of jumping up behind someone carrying a sandwich and suddenly barking. The startled person drops their food and another dog rushes in to grab it off the sidewalk.

The metro dogs have adapted to cope with a world that humans have built f or themselves, not for canines. The have adapted to a world they didn’t create, in conditions they haven chosen, all with a technology dependent on bipedal ambulation and opposable thumbs, the wily canines not only survive, they thrive.

Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan starred in his hit TV show for 9 seasons in more than 80 countries. It’s all about how people can manipulate dogs to behave in a human world – don’t pull on the leash, poop outside, stop barking – shed your rude doggy nature. But the Moscow Metro Dogs have themselves whispered hominids to manipulate their own canine instincts to survive. This reality is a much more dramatic and impressive. Somebody do a show.

Evolution doesn’t have to take tens of thousands of years. Dramatic change can happen in less than the span of a dog’s lifetime, measured in human years at that. Your world, my world, may not be what we wanted, but we can adapt and still thrive. At the very core of the human spirit is the courage to change.

If a stray dog can learn to use the Russian subway, then I can ___________________________ …

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  1. [1]http://abcnews.go.com/International/Technology/stray-dogs-master-complex-moscow-subway-system/story?id=10145833