Amid lockdown in Moscow, some dogs find new homes via online delivery

Stuck at home during Moscow’s coronavirus lockdown, Alexandra Novatova opted to use a delivery service, a big decision, because she was ordering more than a pizza or a shipment of toilet paper.

She got a dog brought to her door.

Novatova chose the pooch, a shepherd mix, from a 12-hour online broadcast. Animal shelter volunteers showed dogs and cats to try to match them with humans.

Dog adoption is on the rise in many parts of the world as people in isolation look for animal companionship.

“I realized that people now have more free time, they can adopt pets without taking a vacation or arranging extra days off,” Anastasia Medvedeva, one of the organizers of the online adoption initiative ‘Happiness Delivered At Home’, said.

Barly, a two year old dog, waits inside a car, as Medvedeva makes a phone call to Novatova, the new owner of Barly, in Moscow (Associated Press)

Medvedeva said her project wants to make sure that the animals aren’t adopted just as a temporary salve to the tedium and loneliness of lockdown. With humans spending all day at home, it’s an opportune period to find the time to acclimate a new dog and an online project is capitalizing on this to match shelter dogs with people.

“We have quite experienced curators,” Medvedeva said. “They conduct rigorous interviews. We naturally ask: Do you understand what will happen next?”

That issue was on Novatova’s mind, too.

“The first thing I did was ask myself whether I’m doing this for the time of the pandemic or for life, whether I’ll be able to sit at home with a dog without the ability to take walks outside and get it used to the current situation. I decided that I’m ready for this,” Novatova said after her dog was delivered.

Novatova opted to use a delivery service for Barly amid the country’s lockdown and social distancing measures

Russia’s lockdown, which will extend at least through May 12, has been hard on dogs in some ways, their daily walks are supposed to go no farther than 100 meters from home, and owners 65 years and older are told to stay indoors except for buying groceries and medication. However there is some relief with many dogs making new friends as volunteers are walking the elderly’s four-legged friends.

In Moscow, pensioner Margarita Donchenko knows how much attention a dog needs. And she’s glad when volunteer Nadezhda Minyaeva shows up once a day to give her fluffy little black-and-white pooch a walk.

“I saw right away that the dog is crazy about her. As soon as she wakes up, she runs to the door and waits for the doorbell to ring. She waits by her leash for Nadya to come,” she said.

“I tell her that Nadya will come soon and she replies with a woof-woof,” Donchenko said.

Volunteer Minyaeva, takes Russian pensioner Donchenko’s dog Sopha for a walk in a courtyard outside the apartment building in Moscow. In an effort to observe social distancing, the pensioner ties the dog’s leash to the door handle, closes the door, after which Nadezhda unties the leash and takes the dog for a walk. Minyaeva shows up once a day for a walk. (Associated Press)

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