Ukraine War Day #333: The Most Vulnerable

Dear Readers:

Today a classic human interest story; or maybe call it an “animal interest story”. This story will touch the heartstrings of everyone who loves animals; or least loves their own domestic pets. Reporter Ulyana Skoibeda writes about the innocent dogs and cats who got caught up in the war, through no fault of their own. There is always something poignant in a love story between a soldier and a vulnerable animal. Maybe it is the poetic dissonance between what we know of the violence the soldier is capable of; versus his tenderness and love for a fellow creature. Two completely different sets of hormones operating within the same human body!

For this very reason, such stories also make for great war propaganda. In the pro-Ukrainian media you will also see these touching photos of ferocious soldiers, even tattooed Nazis, playing lovingly with tiny kittens; and everybody goes “ooh” and “ahh!” Because it is maybe the one and only thing that makes us feel like we are fellow humans, whatever other differences.

Saving Private Wiener

Just before the New Year a mobilized Russian soldier from the Bashkir city of Belebey, a teacher in civilian life, had rescued a dog, which he shipped it to his mother, to take care of. This was a dachshund from Zaporozhie, whom he had named Sosisych. (In Russian, the word for “sausage” is sosich, a direct borrowing from the French, see Old French saucisse). In English, dachshunds are often called “wiener” dogs.) In his message the soldier wrote to his mom, “Sausage would not have survived on the battle front.”

Sausage found a loving friend.

This, and other stories of animal rescue, was told by a woman named Alyona R. who works for the Russian mass organization All-Russian Peoples Front (Общероссийский «народный» фронт – ОНФ).

Alyona: I am from Bashkiria, and my job was to collect humanitarian aid for our soldiers. When I was putting together a shipment, I happened to connect with a mobilized soldier who came from the same part of the country as me, he lives in the village of Priyutovo near Belebey. In his social media he wrote about a homeless dachshund who had come seeking shelter in their unit. “Sausage is a victim of circumstances,” the soldier wrote poetically. “Many homes have been abandoned, there are many stray animals wandering up to the soldiers and begging to be taken care of. You feel bad for them, the nights are getting ever colder, their fur is not enough to protect them from the frost, and this small dachshund would not have survived.”

The reporter reminds us again, that this soldier, in his normal, civilian life, is a schoolteacher.

Having learned about the situation, Alyona quickly spoke with the drivers of the humanitarian convoy. They agreed to let Sausage ride with them in the cabin of the truck; the dog thus hitched a ride from the front line unit all the way back to Bashkiria, where the soldier’s mom, Tamara Alekseevna, took in the refugee with open arms.

The journey was not easy, it was 2,000 kilometers. Along the way Sausage had to spend a night in a barracks in Penza, along with a group of freshly-mobilized soldiers waiting to be sent to the front.

A barracks in Penza

Everywhere they went, the convoy was greeted with triumphal music. Alyona and her comrades had prepared a welcoming party with gifts, including a brand new collar (to replace the simple rope used by the soldiers) and classy sweater for the dog. Thus, Sausage was all spruced up when he went to meet his new owner, Tamara.

They write that Sausage is very happy now, and enjoys his new home. He is showered with love and affection, as every pet should be. The one thing that Tamara decided to change was the name: She disapproves of the typical soldier brand of humor in calling the dog “Sausage” even given its size and shape. Instead, she renamed him Zet. “It’s a patriotic name, and I hope it is a sign that victory will come soon.”

Moving on from dogs to cats. Everybody knows what happened in Mariupol: Under bombs and shelling, people fled the city, leaving their pets behind. They believed they would be returning soon, maybe even within a day, but alas they were not able to. As a result, the city was overrun by formerly beloved, now skeletal abandoned pets wandering around and searching for scraps in the garbage heaps. Or, even worse, pets who had been inadvertently left locked up in the abandoned homes and crying for help through the windows. In a few cases, the neighbors might come and rescue them. Neighbors who had not been able to flee because they had nowhere to go, or had to stay to look after an invalid, for example. Now starving themselves, these kindly neighbors would feed the animals with whatever they had left: a piece of salted fish, some rotting potato, a crust of bread…

Evgenia and a couple of her rescue kitties.

There is a woman in Mariupol named Evgenia Mikhailovna, who has set up a rescue shelter called “Cat Home”. Evgenia drives around the streets all day, especially in the most ruined neighborhood, collecting stray cats. Often the animals just hurl themselves at her hopefully the moment she approaches; but if they are shy, she can entice them into her car, using a scrap of food as bait. Every trip brings as many as 30-90 heads of cat. That’s a lot of cats! She takes them back to her shelter, feeds them, heals them if they are sick, and then adopts these Donbass felines out to cat-lovers all over Russia. [yalensis: Russians are one of those nations on the planet who adore cats and dogs, especially cats.]

The reporter contacted Evgenia to ask her if she has any contacts in the Russian army, whether they help her in her humanitarian mission.

Evgenia: Two months ago, that was November, we were bringing a cat from Popasna to Moscow, to the family of a soldier named Kirill. This young man has rescued many cats. He finds them out on the front lines, brings them back to his unit and feeds them. Then he contacts our organization, and we go to fetch the cats. This is the only soldier whom we currently have dealings with, but we have let it be known that if soldiers want to adopt a cat after they return to their civlian lives, they just need to let us know.

Next: A Hero’s Death, Plus Martha the Cat

[to be continued]

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23 Responses to Ukraine War Day #333: The Most Vulnerable

  1. michaeldroy says:

    I’ve never heard of a Wiener dog in English.
    here they are simply called Sausage dogs 🙂

    Wiener is American slang for er …. Something else of a similar shape

    Like

    • peter moritz says:

      Wiener is a type of sausage similar to a Frankfurter. The Frankfurter Sausage (Würstchen, diminutive of Wurst) name is supposedly protected since 1929, and only to be used by products made in the area in and immediately around Frankfurt.
      “The Wiener wurst is therefore any similar product and here the history:
      Frankfurters from Vienna: The creation of the Viennese version of the Frankfurter sausage goes back to the butcher Johann Georg Lahner (1772 to 1845), who came from an Upper Franconian farming family and moved to Vienna at the age of 26. In Vienna he met a baroness and fell in love with her. Her love for the butcher was so great that the baroness gave him a loan of 300 guilders to set up a butcher’s shop, after which Lahner finally opened his own butcher’s shop in 1804 in the house at Schottenfeld number 274 (today’s Neustiftgasse 112). Only one year later, in 1805, he produced the Viennese Frankfurter sausages there for the first time. For this, Lahner mixed finely chopped pork and beef with bacon, pepper, allspice and garlic and filled the mixture into sheep fillets, which he lightly smoked and then boiled. Since Viennese butchers, in contrast to those in Frankfurt, were allowed to process more than one type of meat, Lahner was able to produce Frankfurter from beef and pork and not only from pork, as in Frankfurt.”

      https://info.bml.gv.at/themen/lebensmittel/trad-lebensmittel/Fleisch/Fleischprodukte/frankfurter.html

      In the USA the name was butchered into Weiner, quite funny when comparing the quality of the sausage in its country of origin to the inedible crap that is produced in the USA and also Canada. To cry is “weinen” in German, so a Weiner is a sausage that cries justifiably about what has happened to it in foreign countries.
      Unfortunately, the quality of the frankfurter (my hometown) has deteriorated, especially when it is peddled in a plastic vac. pack instead its original form in a glass jar or a sealed metal can in a liquid

      I hope this little post clears up some understanding of one of my favourite foods.

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        Thanks! Not only clears up misunderstandings, but also makes me hungry.
        Although I have a terrible confession to make: I like crappy American hot dogs, the kind they sell at the ballpark. If I ever had a chance to eat a quality Frankfurter from a glass jar, I probably wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference. Or maybe I would, and it would change my life!

        Like

        • peter moritz says:

          “If I ever had a chance to eat a quality Frankfurter from a glass jar, I probably wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference.”

          I am 100% sure you will taste the difference.
          Because: you do not taste the sausage in a hotdog, you taste the mustard and/or ketchup. The best way to eat a real Frankfurter is w/o any condiments and with potato salad or sauerkraut. They have a light smokey taste and a texture that is incomparable.

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          • yalensis says:

            Sounds awesome! now you have made me really hungry.
            By the way, typically I don’t put mustard on a frank, maybe some sauerkraut. Or maybe just a small spoonful of mayonnaise to oil the bun.
            I think I must have some German blood in me, because I have always liked German food. Well, Germans and Russians often like the same type of food, beets, onions, potatoes, sausage, that sort of thing… Hearty food!

            Like

    • jrkrideau says:

      It is not common but I have heard it it Canadian English.

      Like

      • They’re usually called “sausage dogs” Downundahere too, but when the Aussies want to say the breed’s proper name, they pronounce it “DAKS-hound.” Like the Brit-o-sphere does with “Jag-YOU-are” and “Nick-a-rag-YOU-wah.” And don’t get me started on what they do to Adidas and Hyundai.

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        • yalensis says:

          I just googled “dachshund” for the etymology. The German word Dachs means “badger”. And “Hund” is “dog, obviously. So, as I was just discussing with pair (in comment above), I think these animals were bred with that shape, all the better to hunt badgers. I don’t know if the dog is actually capable of killing a badger (the latter are ferocious, from what I understand), but if they can at least drag it out of its underground lair, then the human can finish it off.

          Like

    • yalensis says:

      Oh! that’s interesting. I have heard Americans laugh about “wiener dogs”, maybe it’s a regional thing, I don’t know.

      Like

  2. peter moritz says:

    sosich, a direct borrowing from the German…

    The german name for sausage is Wurst. I guess you meant a direct borrowing from englisch or french?

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Oops! Sorry. That was a bad mistake. I meant French, not German. (Old French saussice.) I will dive back into my post and correct that tout suite…

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        Corrected! Thanks again, my German tutor!

        Like

        • Beluga says:

          Being linguistic purists here, it’s “tout de suite” not ‘tout suite’, surely? Since we are praising the French language, n’est-ce pas?

          I have an Acadian sister-in-law, you see, and she’s always shaking her head at us lot of dumbo Anglos. “tout suite” is a typical American contraction signifying lack of understanding of a foreign language but sounding cool, I guess.

          Must agree with Peter Moritz about real German sausages. I have never had a bad sausage in Germany, quite the opposite as some have been sublime, and now I wish I could somehow get hold of the real Frankfurter type he illustrates. I do not patronize Amazon, so one is left trying to buy German sausage from delis that sometimes stock the Montreal German variety. Not the same thing as a real German sausage, unfortunately. But leagues closer than commercial dross made of lips, arseholes, feet and tails of some poor animal or other.

          Like cats, don’t like dogs. Amazing how humane we are to these creatures while knocking off fellow humans like inconsequential weeds. Well, there are so many of us, what’s a human life worth these days?

          Like

          • yalensis says:

            Good point about “tout de suite”. Americans, when they use the term at all, humorously contract it to sound like “toot sweet!”
            “Anglo” Americans are famous for not learning foreign languages. The few borrowings that sneak in from European languages are often connected with American experiences as soldiers in Europe, especially during WWI and WWII. The soldiers would bring back hilarious butcherings of French and German words.

            For example, I am thinking of that WWI song, the refrain goes something like “Inky dinky parlez-vous.” With “inky dinky” obviously being the soldier trying to pronounce “Ich dich…” in German. This being American troops, they probably learned a couple phrases how to approach a prostitute, or maybe not even a prostitute, just some impoverished street woman whom they have decided to violate, for the price of a nylon stocking or candy bar.

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            • Beluga says:

              Well, Inky Pinky Parlez Vous the song was certainly not American. It was as British as could be. Look it up. The Americans turned up late for WW1 just in time to claim they won it all in their usual boastful fashion, while using French Spad fighter planes, etc. because they had SFA in the way of meaningful equipment of their own. So if the Americans came back home singing Inky Pinky Parlez Vous, they learnt it from the Brits. It was in the ’20s that Americans music hall types rewrote it as Hinky Dinky Parlez Vous, adding an aitch and changing Pinky to Dinky, so there goes your theory on “Ich …” whatever. The original Inky Pinky was a rference to a Scottish folk person, I now discover. My father used to sing it and other rude armed services songs when I was little.

              I’m 75, so the stories about WW2 American GIs I’ve heard a hundred times before. As my Granddad used to say venomously about Yanks in Oxford pubs in ’44 and ’45 who chatted up British girls while their own boyfriends were fighting in Italy and Burma and on the sea in particular sinking U-boats and running ALL the convoys to Murmansk tosupply Russia: “Overpaid, oversexed and over here”. The GIs soon found that your average dotty British girl thought of Americans as if they were all rich Hollywood movie stars. War brides ended up in places like Shantytown TN, or Back-of-Beyond Kentucky, places not on a cultural or economic level with a typical British town. Many subsequently abandoned those hillbilly US places and returned to Blighty, having learnt all too well the American penchant for flim flam and gilding the lily.

              When I awoke as a kid at the age of about three so that I can remember things, like my Mum (not Mom thanks all the same) getting her wisdom teeth pulled in hospital when she was preggers with my first brother, the view out of the hospital window was Bookeburg, Germany and tramcars. My father was a Squadron Leader (Medical Doctor) at the RAF base there in the Occupied British sector. So I’ve heard all the stories about how Germans preferred to live in the American sector because they had plenty of food and nylons, and the Brits sure didn’t. And the French of course treated their occupied Germans like complete shite as only a formerly Vichy collaborative country armed with Gallic logic could do with a straight face. I can replay in my mind’s eye the walks in my pushchair (stroller) with Mum across the park to the forces NAAFI (PX) to this day, and I once bashed the German coal deliverer to our apartment building over the head with a shovel. He gave me an honorary ride on his horse and cart after the kerfuffle died down — I was a very large child for my age. Apparently he liked my spirit. More wonderingly, you have to be amazed that my parents allowed me to go alone. Plus I visited the actual home of our German kitchen maid, and that involved a train journey. Trusting adults to be adults in a defeated country was a real thing in those days! Anyway, it was a farm and Gisela’s father made sausages and hams. Much better food than RAF rations for married officers, I can tell you!

              You’ve obviously lived in the US a long time, so I forgive you for being so American-oriented, which is often in their best navel-gazing tradition where no other country much matters. Except, of course, you do give us all the cultural side on Russia, which I do appreciate very much. You’re not quite totally lost. But remember that in the West, there is more than America. It’s really only since Ronnie Raygun and his Chicago neoliberal economists and union-busters that they stated claiming they were an exceptional and indispensable race and became completely unbearable to everyone else. But Americans led up to that modern day claim of uniqueness by being loudmouth boors for decades before that! Many had summer homes in the area of Canada we settled in from ’59, and they treated us all like yokels, being mainly Boston Brahmins. We tolerated them to extract money.

              I am not a fan of America. Worked for one US-owned company, itself owned by the world’s biggest oilfield company which happened to be French. And got the hell out as soon as I could. Visited the US dozens of times, and always breathed a sigh of relief when I got back home to sanity. There is only so much bullsh!t boasting I can take at a time. I don’t plan to visit again.

              I guess what I’m trying to convey, yalensis, is my feeling that your response above is weak, and there are no excuses for “tout suite” for a linguistics guy. Who cares what ill-informed Americans do? I sure as shit don’t. I know they don’t have a clue. Their language and spelling went down the road to perdition with Webster two hundred years ago. Now they have the entire West under their propaganda spell by using economic tricks as described by Hudson and others to live for free on credit and others’ toil. I for one cannot imagine why other people in the West have fallen for their schlock and hoopla hook, line and sinker. Dumb, I guess. Or compromised or bought.

              Like

              • peter moritz says:

                “I am not a fan of America” ah, a point to agree upon.
                Growing up in Frankfurt, from the age of ten, every day the weather was nice, a few friends and I spend the school holidays on our bikes from 10 in the morning to 6 or 7, just in time for dinner, at the Frankfurt Stadtwald.
                Biking several tens of kilometers each day on the trails in the forest, which encompassed at that time a huge area, and included in its boundaries the Frankfurt Football Stadium, several public pools, playgrounds that were incomparably large to the piddly ones in town, and also the Frankfurt airports, the US military one and the civil one.

                We spent hours on an Autobahn overpass close to the airport watching the transport planes and fighter jets take off and land, and being mightily impressed by those machines. That was the time I still believed wide-eyed that the US was the pinnacle of civilization, until at sixteen or so, during my apprenticeship I became politically aware of the Marxist kind, son of a proletarian family. By 17 I had it with the US and their involvement in the Vietnam war, clobbering as was their want again some little brown folks.

                A year of self imposed sabbatical after having studied international agriculture and finished with a BSc. degree, my wife and I decided to spend the time in Canada, hiking with packhorses for six months in the foothills and the Rocky Mountains of North West BC, and working illegally the rest of the time on a farm where I prepared land and machinery for the summer harvest before we had to leave in Spring to return to Germany, with an application to immigrate in our luggage. We returned to settle almost permanently in Canada, where I felt ever more at home than in Germany, with the kept promise to never ever visit the USA.

                We experienced the infamous softwood lumber deals, always broken by some angle the US government found, and as one-time park wardens had our share of dealings with some maybe not so representative arrogant SOBs of the USA
                kind. I preferred the company of many Canadian friends, which of course included emigrees from Germany who had left the home country immediately after the war had ended.
                I am a Canadian citizen, unfortunately not so proud anymore, having to watch after a desastrous Stephen Harper the antics of Prime Minister Trudeau who has become nothing but a US poodle in the best conservative UK tradition and I still can over here on our little Island hear the rotations of Trudeau père.

                Like

              • yalensis says:

                Beluga, I appreciate and like to read your fascinating life stories. I just think you are being a little unfair to guillotine me for the “tout suite” thing. Just because I have a Linguistics degree doesn’t mean I know every idiom in every language, or even know how to spell things. Linguistics is the study of human language in the abstract, not necessarily being fluent in any particular language. My French is good enough to read, maybe not speak, but it’s not my smattering of French that makes me a Linguist. Read a book on morphophonemics and then come back and lecture me!
                Anyhow, you can be grumpy sometimes, but I still appreciate you nonetheless.

                Like

  3. Jean Meslier says:

    I’d wager it’s a french borrowing from “saucisse”. After all, many Russian soldiers who occupied Paris in 1814 spoke french, french was then much more favored by educated Russians than english (french had been the major diplomatic language of the 18th century), and despite Napoleon’s shenanigans, Russia and Alexander the First were very much francophiles (I’ve read that Alexander wrote a better french than Napoleon, a native Corsican).

    Anyway, the english word “sausage” is also a french borrowing, from Old Northern French “saussiche”, which, in turns comes from the latin “salsus” (salted) via medieval latin “salsicius”, then “salsicia” (due to, amongst other things, the Norman conquest, more than 30% of the english vocabulary is directly borrowed from french).

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      You’re right, Jean! Too bad I didn’t read your comment before I figured it out and fixed my post. But you’re absolutely right, your etymologies are spot on; and there is an indelible tie between Russian and French (from which Russian borrowed so many words). This is a tie which even Macron cannot break.

      You are right that Tsar Alexander wrote a better French than Napoleon. Tolstoy also wrote perfect French, and in his novel “War and Peace”, entire chapters are written in French instead of Russian. In fact, the opening paragraph of the entire novel starts in French:

      Eh bien, mon prince, Gênes and Lucques ne sont plus que des apanages, des поместья, de la famille Buonaparte. Non, je vous préviens, que si vous ne me dites pas que nous avons la guerre, si vous vous permettez encore de pallier toutes les infamies, toutes les atrocités de cet Antichrist (ma parole, j’y crois)—je ne vous connais plus, vous n’êtes plus mon ami, vous n’êtes plus мой верный раб, comme vous dites.

      Like

  4. the pair says:

    “wiener dog” is a common term for what it’s worth. there’s a director who featured a character named “dawn wiener” (most recently played by the lovely greta gerwig) and then had her find a wiener dog in her final movie. sadly, he’s a bit of a dorky “edge lord” so it doesn’t end well for either of them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiener-Dog_(film)

    getting back to the main story, these are wonderful people. my first thought when it comes to war is actually “how many pets and other animals will be hurt”. people can take care of their own affairs. it reminded me of a recent poignant report from eva bartlett:

    i may look into a patreon/kickstarter/etc thing for these folks.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Thanks for that info. Oh yes, it’s right there on wiki too, these wiener/sausage dogs are also called “badger dogs” sometimes (I never heard that term). Obviously they were bred to have that long shape, all the better to get into tunnels and catch badgers and other pests who tend to burrow underground.
      I have always believed that domestic animals should not be kept simply as companions, they should also have a job. For example, a cat can be a good companion, but it should also be expected to catch mice or wasps, that sort of thing. By having an actual job, I think it gives the animal itself more self-esteem and a sense of purpose.

      Like

  5. Ah yes, using animals to put a human face on war (I realise that’s a contradiction in terms.) The guy from the Balloon Juice blog, who I scan to see what the mindset is of the “rah-rah the enlightened democracy of Ukraine is gonna win because Putin=Hitler” crowd is saying, he always ends his posts with some images of Patron, the Jack Russell terrier who’s supposedly a Ukie mine-sniffing dog. Then there’s the NAFO wankers, whose main image is a Shiba Inu dog head that they Photoshop onto images of soldiers. A cutesy, prissy, high-maintenance dog that’s not even very large. Their choice of dog reveals them to be pussies. Faaaaark, you idiots, if you’re going to have a canine breed as your avatar, use something fierce-looking like a pit bull or Mastiff or even an Akita. (Which looks a lot like a Shiba Inu, but bigger and meaner.)

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Ugh. I wish humans would just leave animals out of their war propaganda. Although I have to note that the piece I reviewed did exactly the same thing, ending on a patriotic note when Tamara decided to rename “Sausage” to Zet. (Z for victory.)

      Animals themselves are a-political. Although I have to mention, I once owned a cat who must have been a secret Nazi. Because every time you stroked his belly, he would shoot his right arm up in direct, straight Heil-Hitler kind of salute. I’m not joking, he really did that. My roommate and I would laugh our asses off and start zigging around the room.

      Like

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