Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Russian Olympics, Talismans, and Puppies

The Olympics are almost winding down, but sometimes the most interesting stories are the "back stories," or human interest stories from the Olympics, and there are many.

Talisman is an arabic word believed to contain magical or sacramental properties which would provide good luck for the possessor or offer protection from evil or harm.

When I watched some of the Russian skaters, they made the sign of the cross before they skated and I noticed that some wore a tiny gold cross around their necks.  In the Russian Orthodox church, when a baby is baptized, they are given a gold cross on a chain, and it is to be worn always, but not on the outside, but inside clothing.  Before the Soviet Union collapsed, most churches were closed, and those that were open were used as museums.  I remember St. Isaacs Cathedral in then Leningrad, a beautiful church with Icons of mosaic, and religious art everywhere.  But there was a pendulum exhibit, a huge circle of pegs which were knocked down, one by one, by a pendulum which was suspended from the ceiling.  This was to show the earth's rotation, science over religion.  So, I was glad to see this show of belief in a higher being.  I envy those who have a strong religious faith because it has to be such a comfort in difficult and challenging times.

I imagine that among the participants in the Olympics, there are quite a few who have something they carry, a lucky talisman, to give them luck and protection, a photo, a stuffed animal, a cross, or something personal.

For those who love dogs, we have Olympic snowboarder, Gus Kenworthy, who found a mother dog and her four puppies under a security tent,( irony here), in the woods, and has made plans to adopt them all.  Before the start of the Olympics, there were many, many stray dogs in Sochi.  I read that some had been pets who were abandoned.  Part of the reason was that to prepare for the Olympics, homes with yards were destroyed in order to have more land to build the Olympic village.  Those residents were offered apartments, but high rises did not welcome dogs. And the construction workers who were shipped in to Sochi during those years, fed them. With no spaying and neutering program, there was a dog population explosion.

When it was learned that stray dogs were being shot before the Olympics, there was an outcry, of course, and a Russian billionaire offered to build a shelter to save some of them.  There is a shelter now, but not enough room for all.  During the Olympics there will be none that will be killed, but after the Olympics? 

In order to adopt a Sochi dog, you need a veterinarian's OK, a pet passport and someway to arrange transportation back to the states.  Hard to bring them back on charter flights back home which would be a very long trip in the hold of the plane.  Some of the wives of the hockey players from Canada, Slovenia, and the US, have banded together to figure out the logistics. Perhaps many of the dogs will be saved.  I know this is a problem in other countries.  I remember seeing quite a few of them in South America, struggling to stay alive, but not vicious, just wary and street smart.


  1. Such a shame isn't it? Didn't know about the houses and gardens being erased like that. How very sad it all is.

  2. I love seeing people stick to little symbols of religion too. We need a handful of people with strong faith to balance out all the 'science is the only explanation' enthusiasts in our times.

  3. Hi Tasha .. something most of us wouldn't have considered ... the logistics of rescuing puppies and bringing them across the world will certainly not be easy. Good on the wives of the hockey players and especially Gus Kenworthy ... I sure hope he is able to accomplish this easily.

    Talisman - I didn't know the word came from Arabic .. but understood the 'protective care' a talisman holds for people. The Churches and Orthodox places of worship .. must be so beautiful and hold much mysticism for those with faith ... I'm like you on the edge - but tiny English churches give me peace.

    It is interesting how many people have crosses around their necks when we see them; when I was confirmed into the CofE I'd wanted a cross, but never got one!

    I hadn't picked up about the clearances - obvious really ... I just hope Gus Kenworthy and other citizens can make a plan. Around the world there are always abandoned animals .. just so sad.

    Thanks for highlighting this .. cheers Hilary