Meal Ticket

It’s hard to find an urban area which does not have a significant homeless population. Be it New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, or Madrid, one is likely to encounter someone for whom life has dealt a bad hand. Some homeless have taken creative measures to adapt, finding ways to persevere in the concrete and asphalt wilderness around them. And in one city, this will to survive is not solely in the domain of the human homeless.

Meet the homeless, subway-riding dogs of Moscow.

There are about 35,000 homeless dogs in Russia’s capital, some pictured above. Most of them are feral and eschew contact with people. But about 500 or so have done what many homeless people have done, and become semi-permanent denizens of the subways — in this case, the Moscow Metro. The advantages are more than just a roof and associated shelter from the weather. The dogs can cozy up to riders in hopes of getting food tossed their way, or, if opportunity knocks, scare an unsuspecting train-goer into dropping his or her snack. Either way, this newfound meal is critical to the hungry subway-living dog.

For about two dozen or so dogs, though, the bark-and-eat gambit is merely a start. These advanced dogs have taken the subway game to the next level: they have become commuters. Areas with office buildings are crowded during the day but sparsely populated during the mornings and evenings; meanwhile, the opposite pattern is seen in residential neighborhoods. And therefore, it behooves a panhandler, canine and human alike, to be near the offices at lunch time and near people’s homes at night. So, some Metro pups do exactly that — as reported by both ABC News and the Sun, the dogs have figured out how to navigate the train network in hopes of optimizing their locations throughout the day.

And they do so in style. The dogs have figured out which trains offer more room, so they can curl up on a bench for an in-transit snooze. (The Sun article has a couple of pictures of the dogs sleeping on the subway.)

Bonus fact: Another thing oddly related to the subway? In New York, at least, the price of a slice of pizza fits the bill. In 1980, the New York Times reported that the typical price of a single slice of pizza matched, “with uncanny precision,” the price of a single ride on New York’s subway system since the 1960s. The Times revisited the strange correlation in 2002 and determined that it was still true.

From the ArchivesThe San Francisco Bushman: Another enterprising member of the homeless.

Related: A single-ride ticket on the New York City subways now costs $2.50. Even at that price, an eight slice pizza — fresh — will run you $20. But in case you want to spend $31.50 for frozen pizzas (plus another $5 and change in shipping), Amazon’s got you covered. But you have to buy them six at a time (!).

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