Coming to America: The Story of Altai
My name is Altai and I am originally from Siberia. I was found roaming the streets near an abandoned factory in the historic city of Barnaul, near the Altai Mountains.
Humans approached me and I was supposedly rescued, but was kept outside in wintertime in minus 40 degree weather. I do not know how, but some good folks more than 1,500 miles away learned about my situation and started negotiating to move me to Moscow. They succeeded and I traveled on the Trans-Siberian railway to Moscow. There I was well cared for and learned that I was in a half-way house. I also heard rumors for the first time about NBRF, living in America and about Club Borzoi. This really piqued my interest as I had ambitions of becoming a star. You see I like to chant and perform and always dreamed of a singing career in America.
I think I won the NBRF lottery, because after a few months I was transported to the airport and loaded into a custom crate: what followed was a total of 17 very stressful hours without any bathroom breaks. I arrived disoriented and exhausted at Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C. There the two directors of Club Borzoi (really my new Mom and Dad) were frantically trying to get me through customs. It was super stressful for them as well, as I was on one of the last flights out of Russia because of something called a pandemic, caused by the Pekinese and a virus.
I got to meet Mom and Dad and was somewhat concerned about my future. All my life I have been misunderstood: I am very tall (33+” at the shoulder). 116 lbs, black and powerful. I also like to be vocal; I growl a log and enjoy singing which some people find loud. Humans often find me intimidating.
From the airport we drove another four hours to Club Borzoi where I met the other members: Finland (Finn 2019 NBRF rescue) and Danya (our pack leader). We got along quickly. My human relations took a bit longer. I did not have the best experiences with people in the past and this related to frequent nightmares and bursts of aggressively biting my tail. I did not like for humans to touch me and made sure they understood this by giving a clear warning. Over time I started to realize that there was no physical punishment when I did something silly or wrong. Mom and Dad knew how to tell me without ever striking me. They went out of their way for me to find what they called “my inner Borzoi”. U received daily puppy massages and soon forgot about my fear of being touched. Because of the Pekinese virus, we did not have the usual visits from the groomer so mom and dad tackled my Siberian winter coat. It took several attempts and finally I was left with a light sporty coat. Daily runs and exercise also made me lose 20 lbs. I now have this svelte body with shiny coat, eve the hair on my tail has re-grown. It just looks stunning when I wag! I now enjoy doing obedience and agility, but my favorite is playing tug-of-war with Danya. Dad says that I am the strongest dog he has ever handled and I enjoy challenging him.
And then there is the food! At first I was a bit overwhelmed and possessive. Once I stole dad’s slice of coconut cake right off the table, whipped cream and all. He was not happy and called me “coconut” for three weeks. It was so humiliating that I decided to abandon any ideas of a life of crime especially since Mom prepares three home-cooked meals a day! Fresh rice, honey –wheat bread, slow cooked meals with chicken and vegetables, and salmon based kibble. You should see the sheen on my coat! It is blue pearlescent. I also learned to be patient and now wait for my meal with full composure… as the junior; I eat last and do not mind. Yes, “junior” indeed…. For some reason people estimated me to be about five years old, Mom and Dad are now convinced that I am not even three years old yet.
They say that my prey drive is over the top. I was a working hound after all. When I arrived I upset the natural balance in the county. Squirrels flat out declared war on us Borzoi. Mom and Dad say they’ve never seen so many angry squirrels: some even charged us Kamikaze style. Luckily a peace agreement has been reached with Uncle Nutsy, the local clan leader, and things are back to normal. The deer here are huge and there are plenty of reptiles. I have gone through a squirrel phase, a deer phase, and reptile phase, trying to catch all, especially lizards, and am still attempting to eat a toad. I am a bit of a slow learner when it comes to toads. I am much calmer now when I see wildlife and made huge progress by walking off leash for the first time! All club members here walk off leash and I long to do the same.
One of my favorite things is riding in the car. I love to go to big box stores and walk the aisles with Dad. People see me and scatter: I am the ultimate social distancing enforcer! Because of the pandemic all Club Borzoi travel has been canceled this year. I hear that there are two annual beach trips and I cannot wait to experience the ocean…maybe I will be able to catch a crab or two.
All in all, I traveled 7,412 miles to get to Club Borzoi and I enjoy every minute living here. Stay tuned as you will hear more about my singing career.
P.S. Mom and Dad say that I need to that NBRF for my new life!