Ukraine War Day #334: The Most Vulnerable (continued)

Dear Readers:

Continuing my review of this piece by reporter Ulyana Skoibeda. Where we left off: We saw that vulnerable pets, mostly cats and dogs, have been affected and harmed by the war.

It is the unenviable fate of domesticated animals to be completely dependent on humans for all of their needs. I am not sure that Mother Nature actually intended for things to get to this point. Especially where certain “special” animals have their roles reduced to that of mere companions. Which makes them eternal children, never able to grow up and fend for themselves. Which makes them particularly vulnerable in times when their owners are forced to abandon them for whatever reason, be it a natural disaster or, in this case, a war.

Be that as it may, we met some very kindly individuals who care about these creatures and try to help them in their moment of need. Our next heroine in this story is a young woman named Anna Dolgareva. Anna is a talented poet and also a military correspondent.

Two pretty girls, Left to right: Martha and Anna.
Anna’s close friend Igor

Whenever she is on assignment in the Donbass, Anna takes time out of her schedule to rescue cats. She finds them at the front lines and sends them back to the rear-guard, where they belong. One time she brought 4 rescue cats back with her to the hotel where she was staying. She had to sneak them in (or so she thought), so she hid two of them in her room, and the other two in a friend’s room. Little did she know, the hotel administration saw everything, but said nothing, even though it wasn’t technically allowed to have animals in the rooms.

A couple of weeks ago, on January 5, Anna brought Martha the cat to the mother of a fallen Commander of a Recon Company within the Volunteer Battalion called “Veterans”. The Commander, Igor Alkin was originally from Tambov. Anna: “Igor was a close friend of mine, he was very dear to me. His call sign was “Sunset”. His group were fighting in Izyum, I had gone to the front to visit him twice, the first time was on his 33rd birthday. I brought him a pie (a pierogi) from the cathedral of Izyum. And on September 20, he was killed.”

A manager by profession, Igor had left for the front in April. When he died he left behind his mother, his father, and a brother. “The brother is also fighting in the war,” Anna confided. “And Igor’s mom, Nadezhda Vasilevna, started to ask me if I could bring her a kitten or younger cat. They have a cat already, an older Persian. And then my other friend, Captain Mangushev, who commands a drone unit, just happened to find this year-old cat hiding out in the ruins of Novotoshkovka. She is what they call a blue-tartan mestizo cat, a Scottish. He called me on the phone: Look how beautiful she is! Mangushev is contantly finding these cats, he has a 3-year-old cat living with him in his barracks. He doesn’t plan to give her away, he takes her everywhere with him. So I went to visit their unit. Hello, guys, I’m here for the cat! And they just stared at me blankly and asked wearily, Which one? We have three cats living here!”

Martha with her friend “Sunset”, who was killed in combat.

Like all Donbass cats, Martha is very cuddly and very grateful to humans who help them. They are traumatized and afraid of being alone. Martha was starving, and yet she could purr like a tractor. She immediately came down with distemper, so Anna had to nurse her through that ordeal. When Anna finally delivered the feline to her new “parents”, Igor’s dad immediately took to the animal. He picked her up, flipped her over onto her back, and held her in the palm of his hand. Martha responded with her affectionate attempt to talk human: “Mya mya mya!”

The only problem in the family now is that the older Persian cat, Marsik, is jealous of the newbie. Especially when Martha attempts to eat his share of dinner as well as her own! Anna jokes: “Look how this cadaver filled out!” Recall that Anna is a poet as well as a journalist. In one of her own poems about the war, she had written some terrifying verses about “a tail-less cat perched on a corpse” in the ruins of a bombed city:

Крик замерзает около мертвых губ. 
Перестань быть мертвым, попробуй сесть. 
Кот не ест человеческий труп, 
он даже не сможет тебя поесть.
Снайпер работает неподалеку… 
кот бодает мертвую щеку.

«Встань, поднимись до бывшей квартиры, 
где на месте третьего этажа пустота.
Будто вокруг – тишина бывшего мира. 
Встань, покорми кота».


The scream dies out on dead lips.
Stop being dead, try to sit up.
A cat won't eat a human corpse,
It couldn't eat you if it wanted to.
A sniper is working not far away...
The cat nudges the dead cheek.

"Wake up, take me back upstairs to our flat,
Where there is only emptiness on the third floor.
It's as if, all around us, only the silence of the former world.
Wake up, it's time to feed your cat!"

Russia Is Big, She Takes In All

The reporter was explaining to her child that the Ukrainian word for “cat” is similar to the Russian. Russians say kot and Ukrainians say kit.

Her child asked, “What is the Ukrainian word for dog?” “It’s tsutsenya.” And then realized, it had never occurred to her before, Russians have an old proverb, “Frozen, like a tsutsik,” in other words, feeling really cold. Cold as a dog. It’s the same word.

She concludes: Russia is a very big country. It accepts everyone. It accepts Ukrainians, for whose sake it is fighting this war. It accepts the famous racoon mascot of a certain Russian battalion. [yalensis: a racoon rescued, Ukrainians say “stolen” from the Kherson zoo]. It accepts the Zaporozhian dachshund, it takes in Donbass cats. And it must be said that animals often show more humanity than the very humans themselves. The animals are even-tempered and don’t let themselves become bitter. They know how to show gratitude for a good deed. You rescue an animal, you have made a friend for life.

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21 Responses to Ukraine War Day #334: The Most Vulnerable (continued)

  1. mtnforge says:

    Its a very intriguing proposition this relationship between cats dogs and people. It seems clear to myself dogs and cats, they have high emotional cognitive capability, they plainly have emotions, they understand human speech, at least on the level of recognizing human words with specific actions, that is definitely being associatively cognitive.
    It seems its really about intelligence, what is intelligence? What defines in a creature its ability to be intelligent? Something else and it surely is tied in with cognitive thought, is emotions and how ones pet is perceptive and reacts to say your expressions of joy or sadness or anger or contentment, particularly affection and love, i mean what dog or cat, except maybe one of those Maine Coon cats, does not love to soak up all the love and tenderness their human gives them? So the dependency thing is very real in every sense, because like human kids how parents are the everything gods, but even Maine Coons, they bite and maul you because its their testy nature way of saying i love you too. So are our pets dependent on us in a certain way just like a child is with loved ones, parents siblings etc. I think cats and dogs they got little kids minds, that is their basic cognitive level, surely some are more perceptive than others and so too their cognitive abilities vary just like humans, and certainly being perceptive with and about humans, thats a biggie.
    Maybe its really all about and comes down to the familiar and trust. Most dogs and cars seem to have little capacity for anything but unconditional love, they do not seem to be capable of any dissimulation, a lot like children.
    Theres an issue of duty as a human I think, and I say this from personal experience, how from my earliest memory my pop taught me to have remorse when I killed something I was hunting or trapping even fishing, the first time I shot a squirrel, he asked me if I felt remorse, and I did, very vivid experience, still is, and that is part of something much larger I believe, best explained how say raising pigs, here is this great critter, they are very intelligent animals, and I sense and feel God has something to do with all this, here is this creature I am going to ultimately kill because this pig is going to feed me and mine, don’t I have at least the ultimate duty and responsibility to provide for this pig all the best things from food to water, a place to sleep and rest safely comfortably? And when I kill say my pigs or a cow or chickens, I always review my actions in detail, did I do everything to provide for these critters who themselves ultimately provide for me? Its a dead nuts serious question, and I think it is like what an axe, a shovel, and a Rifle is for, lot of us Men in our society have lost or forgotten what they are for, and so too the interdependency between domesticated, and wild too, and us humans. I mean if it don’t come in a package many folks can not eat it, their pallets are so altered by industrial food say a fresh brook trout or a grouse is totally gag worthy to them, grosses them out.
    Maybe thats way off on a tangent but I think fundamentally not. I get attached to a certain pig at times, or even a laying hen. I notice always thru a lifetime critters are very perceptive and affectionate with woman and particularly little girls, you can see the attraction and reaction plain as day and its cognitive ability. So as the higher cognitive element we humans have a real responsibility to take care of critters we take into our lives, after all, they trust us, and its a kind of pure unconditional love. To betray that, it ain’t a good thing to do. Where we live its very remote, all deep rural mountain farming community, theres a fork on the road front of our property line, long time a turn around and school bus stop, and we always know when things get financially difficult for people, as the incidence of pets being abandoned will sky rocket, we even catch sight of cars stopping and a door opens out comes a cat or dog and the vehicle speeds off. Its pretty sad. Some reason this spot is very popular for this. First thing happens is these abandoned critters head straight for our front porch. We long ago had to stop taking them in, its a real heart jerker, but theres no resources near us for abandoned critters, its a poor county we live in. We have to put it out of our minds or we end up being highly effected by this cruelty. Sad it is and I can not imagine what war of extermination being waged by this cabal on Russians, and all of us who are free men really, is like on peoples pets.
    But look at one of these war dog and cat refugees, when some human adopts them, the expressions of joy and happiness is clearly evident. Inescapable. Its like a phase line in some form of capacity of intelligence that mixes, almost like a modulus, between human and pet animal.


    • Liborio Guaso says:

      “But look at one of these war dog and cat refugees, when some human adopts them, the expressions of joy and happiness is clearly evident. Inescapable. Its like a phase line in some form of capacity of intelligence that mixes, almost like a modulus, between human and pet animal”.

      I can say that the reaction of humans to kindness is equal to or greater than that experienced with animals, this is verified when you live for some time among the less favored population of society and they come to consider you as one of them. It is an unforgettable experience.
      Unfortunately racism, greed and religion have filled the world with hate.


      • mtnforge says:

        Thats an interesting thing your saying, because like 15 years back we moved from northern NH to WV, bought a property been vacant 11 years, far as we know at that time the first outsiders in living memory we where told moved in this small rural farming community, noticed right away how clannish it is in these mountains, immediately we become adopted family by some neighbors but some folks will never accept your being part of the local community, always an outsider, pretty much no in between. And its very nice being accepted as we have been, particularly as we knew no one.


    • moon says:

      and how ones pet is perceptive and reacts to say your expressions of joy or sadness or anger or contentment, …

      Our dog couldn’t stand strife. If it went on for too long, he would surface out of nowhere and let anyone know how much he disliked matters. Succeeding in silencing anyone involved in no time at all.

      Strictly it was my youngest sisters dog, but that is a different story.


      • yalensis says:

        Dogs in particular descended from pack animals (if I am not mistaken), by this I mean animals who live in packs; this is why they are very intuitive when it comes to understanding family dynamics and group dynamics in general.


        • mtnforge says:

          Oh yeah, most definitely. I think you hit it on the head right there. We have this little mixed mongrel, most wonderful dog we have had the pleasure of, she is unmistakably pack orientated, its really sweet when one of us come home we have to go thru a whole pack greeting ritual.


          • yalensis says:

            Dogs are amazing like that. They can make you feel like the most important being on the planet.


            • mtnforge says:

              Indeed, amazing, like Unconditional Love, its the greatest actualization, and everyone needs a little actualization from loved ones I think. Its the ultimate appreciation of somebody. Dogs seem to do that very well.


              • yalensis says:

                To my mind, dogs are a tragic animal. At some point in their evolutionary past they gave up their freedom, decided to become slaves to man, in return for food. I don’t think it has been an even bargain. For every pampered and happy pet dog, there are hundreds of wretched and abused dogs in the world.

                I love dogs myself, I have had a few and loved them, but philosophically I believe they should not exist. Everywhere there are dogs in the ecosphere, they ruin it for other animals.
                I make an exception for “working dogs” like assistants to the blind, or dogs that pull sleds, that sort of thing. They are useful. But dogs simply as pets and companions? I think that goes against nature itself, in a way.


              • Cats are worse for the ecosphere than dogs. Little kittehs are killing machines when you let them outside. I won’t waste your time with links, but there is no shortage of articles about the billions of birds and other woodland creatures kilt by katz. Have you ever watched a cat toy with something it’s caught, letting it think it could escape and then re-pouncing? They can draw out the death for a sadistically long time. They’re regarded as an invasive nuisance species Downundahere when they establish feral colonies. Don’t @ me as anti-cat; I’ve owned a lot of them since my family had moggies (Aussie slang for non-purebred cat) when I was growing up. I like cats! But my ex and I kept our last two (who went from San Fran to Australia and then to Canada with us, at considerable effort and expense) inside all the time. (I was not as enlightened with my previous cats, who often brought dead stuff to me as an expression of their gratitude.) Canines don’t slaughter nearly as much as felines.


              • yalensis says:

                Hi, Bukko,
                It’s true that cats are sadists and kill cute woodland animals. But the flip side of that is their usefulness in eliminating rodents. Rodents are way more of a pest for humanity than felines; but that’s just my opinion.

                Stay tuned, by the way, for my upcoming post, it will also feature some cats, in their role as mice-catchers.


  2. JMF says:

    These really are heart-warming tales, yalensis. As one who cohabitates (currently) with two dogs and six cats, I thoroughly understand and appreciate the joy of bonding with other animals.


  3. Nanker says:

    Now let us all have a thought or a silent prayer for Igor Alkin…


  4. Daniel Rich says:

    So many things get lost in translation. The more languages you speak, the more you appreciate the subtleness of the spoken/written word, that therefor rightfully deserves their own merit/s.

    Here in Japan, there are lots of stray cats [nora neko] and they live all by themselves.

    Packs of dogs are know to attack, mutilate and kill people.

    For most of us it’s easier to digest numbers of fallen wo/men [where ever that may occur] than to see me eat a kitten or puppy…


  5. Let me start by saying that I do not mean to denigrate 100% of the essence of catdom here. I am not catracist. Bit I am compelled to witness for The Truth, and must counter a lie in that poem. CATS WILL EAT HUMAN CORPSES! They might not LIKE it, especially if they’re more accustomed to 9 Lives or Fancy Feast. But sometimes a cat’s gotta do what a cat’s gotta do when it comes to staying alive and their ratbag human servant has died on them so there’s no one to run the can opener.

    Also too, “frozen like a tsutsik” tells me that the old Canadian expression, “cold as a three-dog night” (meaning you’d want THREE dogs on your bed to help keep you warm) is a cultural appropriation — aka RIPOFF! — from the Russian people. Someone should alert the Ukrainazian government to add the 60s rock band “Three-Dog Night” — as heard on Mouldy Oldies radio stations everywhere — to the list of artists who must be cancelled for being crypto-Russkie.


    • yalensis says:

      Bukko, you have already exposed yourself as a catophobe, so there is no weaselling out of that now (to mix animal metaphors!) Cats across the world march to condemn you.

      I am reluctantly forced to agree with you, however, that a cat will eat your corpse, if it gets hungry enough. It just that their tiny teeth and claws can only bite off so much at a time. I imagine they would start with the easy bits, the skin, the ear lobes, etc. I don’t think they would be able to really just rip you open, like a tiger would, say. They would probably have to wait until your corpse has liquified somewhat, and then just start to lap up the oozings. All the while thinking, “My human can opener doesn’t taste nearly so good as that Fancy Feast gourmet salmon he used to offer me on a silver platter… But a cat’s gotta do what a cat’s gotta do!”


      • Bukko Boomeranger says:

        OKkkkkkkk… I was going to let it be coz the topic’s gross, but since you mentioned cats eating corpses after they start to get a bit squishy, I must elaborate! When Oogling around for links to drop about cat-abalism, I came across a story from the Washington Post from 2020. It was about a facility in the desert Southwest where they leave human remains outside to see what happens. Including what eats them. Who knew that such a thing existed? Because it was not political or foreign events coverage, I reckon it’s not as biased as other WaPo stories. One of the bits I gleaned from the cats-eating-bodies part is that they will nibble away over many days, but they stop when the dead ‘un becomes juicy. I won’t include a link (because I’d have to Oogle it again) and because it’s so icky. But if you’re reeeeeeeally curious, you know what to do! ________________________________


        • yalensis says:

          Thanks, Bukko, but I’m not THAT curious – yuck!

          Yeah, believe it or not, I actually read somewhere about that place where scientists research human cadavers that are just lying around. People can actually write into their wills and donate their bodies to science in this manner. There was a murder thriller set in a place like that, I forget the writer, but the plot-line was, a serial killer who dumps his kills there and totally gets away with it until somebody notices the extra corpses.
          Because they do keep track, apparently.


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