Would you ever give up your life for your dog? Would you give up your home, your job, your lifestyle, and everything else just to live in the country with not just your own dog, but with hundreds? Well, Daria Pushkaveva, a Russian photographer has just done that, but instead of doing it for selfish reasons like wanting to get away from it all and live a quiet life, she has left everything behind to save hundreds of dogs. Once a worker in the entertainment industry who produced films and TV shows, including a full-length feature production, she had in a span of six years been working herself to the bone, getting little time off, pushing herself as she tried to excel in her career.
Well, she wanted a career that did not demand so much of her time and caused her to suffer so much stress and to have busy days, and so she looked for something more slow-paced. She decided to become a photographer instead, and she has risen to become one of the most in-demand photographers in Moscow where her clientele included the politicians and some of the wealthier elite of the city.
Unfortunately, as with her first career, the life of a photographer caused Daria to undergo the same problems – she was overworked, became tired and stressed out. In an interview, she said she had become a photographer to reduce the stresses of her other career. Daria had invested her money into purchasing photographic equipment and she also had to attend classes to perfect the skills she already had in photography. Now she has come back to square one. She is tired, overworked, stressed…She didn’t have the opportunity to look for a chance to go on holiday to take a break, but she also wasn’t allowing herself to make the time to look for them either. The only joys she had was when she took her photographs and came up with something impressive to display. Daria has long since realized she is a workaholic, taking more joy in creating something rather than giving herself the chance to relax.
But all that has changed.
Daria has always had a love for dogs ever since she was a little girl, and when she was a child, she told her classmates at school she hoped to set up a dog shelter at some point. Unfortunately, she never had a pet when she was a child since she had very busy parents who couldn’t take care of them during her absence. It’s been the same when Daria grew up and her career with her long hours has meant she hasn’t managed to get a dog of her own. Her love for dogs hasn’t left her, though.
She has made donations and volunteered on an internet forum trying to find things such as therapy for dogs and accommodation for them while raising the money for their care and health. It was the best she could do since she couldn’t get away from work to make a true difference. Finally that all changed when she saw the news about a puppy in a shelter without an eye. The dog needed about 10k rubles, which is about $150, to book an appointment with an ophthalmologist, and she met a volunteer whom she gave the money to for the dog’s treatment. The volunteer thanked Daria for the money, but there was no-one to do it now.
With her husband, Daria decided to do it themselves. From there, Daria knew what she wanted to do. Together with Dima, her husband, Daria began their dog shelter by taking in dogs in need, however, their seventh dog pushed them to make changes, serious ones, to their lifestyles. It was a dog that no-one wanted because it was in such terrible condition. He was in another town and made the trip to collect him and give him a happy life. Drago, the dog, was only seven months old. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he had lost his legs thanks to a train. The vets suggested putting him down to spare his suffering, but Daria chose to house him instead.
Unfortunately, Drago was quite aggressive, and the problem started as soon as he was introduced to the other dogs, and he pinned them down and he also attacked his new humans regularly. Fortunately, Daria discovered this behaviour was the result of hallucinations caused by the head trauma he had suffered. Drago had tried to bite her in the past, and things became so bad for her she actually had to call a dog specialist in. His answer was not helpful – he just told her to call the police, and have the dog shot.
Dima took the dog out into a hallway, and after a bit, he managed to wrap the traumatised dog in a blanket to keep him alive and to ensure the safety of his family muzzled the dog. The specialist was called again, but he was still not helpful – he merely suggested Drago should be kept away. Dima and Daria both took out loans and bought a house in the country 100 miles out of Moscow and moved there, building enclosures for the dogs and began to live out their new lives. With their new living space and being far from Moscow, the number of dogs at their new place literally exploded, and it didn’t take long for the number of dogs to grow to around 200.
Daria’s Instagram account is full now of pictures of dogs looked after by the couple; there are pictures of dogs in wheelchairs, some old dogs. Granted, some of the dogs had issues and were aggressive, but they’re doing better now. Some of the animals aren’t even dogs. Some of them are arctic foxes and even racoon dogs who might have become clothes.
Daria might have wanted a shelter as a child, but now she has one she doesn’t see or refer to it as a home. She sees the dogs like family and calls the place a family home, and they will never give them away. Money is tight since they have to pay for food and medical care for their dogs, giving the dogs a balanced diet consisting of meat, such as poultry and fish. Daria’s photography work is now freelance based but with donations from their friends, they look set for a long future.