Actually, my dog should write his memoirs. Don’t tell me I have to do this for him – I don’t want to risk being accused of doing something like cultural appropriation…
But if he wrote his memoirs – it would be a bestseller, I’m sure! “Life and Views of Jack the Dog”.
Well, he should simply deliver his views later.
But I can give a brief outline of his life so far. So: first he was in a shelter near the small town of Serpuhkov. As far as I know it must have been very spooky there – in Russian animal shelters there is a rule that a small and a large dog are always kept in one cage together to avoid fights.
There sat little Jack with a giant wolfhound that was obviously tormenting him. The minders in camouflage clothing also tormented him—why else would he have developed such an immediate and infallible defense against men wearing such clothing?
But then we came and took him to our apartment in Moscow. Jack started losing his hair in shock and confusion and we decided to send him to a grooming salon.
It seemed to us that they treated him really really well there, but after bathing and getting his nails trimmed, he got a peek into the VIP area, where there are puppies that are literally allowed to sit on a throne. The dog groomer said respectfully: Look, this is the favorite of (and then named the ex-wife of a famous Russian film director).
By the way, Jack had to deal with this elitism even more often. The owners of all types of Labradoodles always told him that he was a “fake dog”. Once, though, an elderly lady who owned a Scottish terrier tasered at his growl, and a handful of coaches came into Jack’s life.
One of these trainers explained to Jack that he was an adult, endowed with sexual desire, and that he needed to visit a dog brothel. So we checked out a couple of dog brothels and were disturbed: the bitches there were being pumped full of hormones to keep them willing. We never went to said trainer again, instead Nastya came into our lives a short time later.
And Jack learned what it means to love someone other than just our family members. He learned to walk next to us, to “heel” to me, and would soon have mastered running past other dogs without paying attention to them – but then Russia attacked Ukraine and everything changed.
In the first two months of the war, Jack had to adjust to loneliness (when you’re alone in a huge apartment and being walked for fifteen minutes twice a day), to fatherlessness (when you’re always in strangers’ apartments ) and abandonment (when your owner doesn’t notice you at all, just cries).
But then this happened: Jack got into a car, crossed several borders, waited in lines, slept in a dog-friendly hotel and got lost on Polish country roads. When we got to the Berlin address and got out of the car, the very first thing we saw was a cat – and Jack turned away and stared in a different direction, resigned. He surrendered.
Two months passed. No, Jack hasn’t really become a Berliner in the meantime. He rides the subway, as local dogs do, but he’s obviously afraid of it. He learned to lie under the table in a café, but if a croissant falls, he goes nuts. And he can’t stand being away from his family. When my partner Kostya was on a business trip, Jack refused all food and drink for three days.
Yesterday my son Grisha went away and since then Jack has been lying in front of his room door, although I have shown him a hundred times that there is no one in it. Jack has gotten used to someone crying next to him and he has learned to look extra cute at such moments.
Outside he snaps at other dogs from time to time. But overall, he snaps at anyone a lot less often now. Because here there are hardly any men in camouflage clothes.