Zhenya and Lera lived in an orphanage until the age of 11 when they were taken under guardianship by one family. But relations with foster parents did not develop. But with animals, it’s the other way around. The sisters began to save dogs from capture, and look for a home for puppies – that’s how they met Angelina Zyryanova, who opened the Bereginya zoo in Surgut.
“To be honest, I used to be afraid of dogs,” Zhenya Zainulina admits. This 15-year-old girl from Surgut, together with her sister Valeria, saved more than a hundred animals.
Although five years ago, neither one nor the other could imagine that someday they would dare to simply approach a street dog. And even more so – that for the sake of saving dogs they will oppose adults: employees of the capture service or a cruel dog breeder.
– When we lived in an orphanage, we had three dogs there, Grom, Jessa, and their daughter Naida. In the spring, a whole “dog wedding” gathered on the territory, other dogs came. At that time, of course, I didn’t know anything about animals, so fear sat somewhere deep. Once I had a dream that one of them had bitten me … Since then, I began to be afraid of them, as it seemed then, for real, ”said Evgenia. And then Lera and Zhenya were taken under guardianship by the family, and it seemed that everything would change. But the guardian for them could not become a mother. The girls were brought to their real mother by… a dog.
A friend from a bus stop
They were walking past the bus stop and saw a dog. And the dog saw them. And wagged his tail. Thus began their friendship with Rick. Every day, going to school, they brought a treat to the dog at the stop – either sausages, then bread, then porridge – all that was left from the table. And Rick, in some incomprehensible way, always turned out to be at the bus stop at the right time, and after seeing Leroy and Zhenya, he ran away about his business. This went on for two years. All this time the girls lived with a family of guardians.
– In the summer, my sister and I were sent to a children’s camp, and when we returned, Rick was not at the bus stop. We began to look for him everywhere, we came every day, but he never appeared. And three months later I was walking from school and saw him … He ran up and seemed to call somewhere. He ran, looking back to whether I was following him or not. I was walking, but I met a friend, I stopped for less than a minute to say hello and lost sight of Rick. She ran in the direction he was going, but he seemed to have disappeared, – Zhenya said. Rick, without knowing it, did a lot for the girls – he completely erased the fear of dogs. He also gave a love for animals, which brought Zhenya and Lera into the family. The last time they met Rick was in the winter.
“We soon learned that Rick and two other dogs had been captured. They were all euthanized. For my sister and I, it was a blow, it hurt so much … He often came to me in a dream, there he led me, as then on the street, looking back to see if I was following him. And we realized that we would never allow the same fate of other dogs, – said Evgenia. Girls from ordinary schoolgirls became real volunteers. The number of their tailed wards grew. They began to look after and feed the dog, very similar to the first friend. He was given the nickname Riki because he was like Riku’s twin brother. Then other animals appeared. They got to the shelter “Bereginya” by accident, when they did not know how to save the puppy. He was very small, it was impossible to take him to the house of foster parents, to leave him on the street – too. Lera took the baby to the shelter,
Reclaimed the dogs from the trapping
Angelina’s volunteer path was also not easy. She admits that the shelter arose, as an “emotional outburst”, spontaneously. It was the only way to save the animals.
– In the summer of 2018, I decided to adopt a dog from a shelter. But it turned out not to be a shelter, but a commercial capture, where, after a 10-day quarantine, all animals without exception were killed. Volunteers didn’t even have time to pick up many, begging them to give them back under the gates, not to kill them, but alas … In most cases, when we arrived at visiting hours, we found that the animals were no longer there, – Angelina explained. She began to write petitions and complaints so that the caught animals would not be killed. put to sleep. I was looking for at least someplace where it would be possible to contain them. Volunteers flooded all instances with complaints and requests, and the only thing they managed to achieve was permission to pick up without restriction the animals caught by the trapping service.
– For the first time, we took out 72 dogs at a time. Which, of course, they were completely unprepared for. Where to take animals, there is no place, conditions too. So they began to build a volunteer shelter on a private piece of land. Enclosures have grown, a small hospital has appeared, even a well with drinking water, – continued Angelina Zyryanova. But some were dissatisfied. Barking dogs interfered with nearby organizations, questions poured in about why the shelter is run by a team that does not have any legal documents. At that time, Angelina already had 372 dogs, which she won back from the capture service. Some of the animals were distributed according to overexposure and sent to curatorship in other cities.
“The land plot for the shelter was received only at the end of the summer of 2019, and then all the documents for the Bereginya shelter were already completed,” said the head of the organization.
“To whom I went more – to the dogs or Angelina”
Angelina met the girls in 2018 when the shelter was not yet official. Lera was the first to come to help with cleaning the enclosures and walking the dogs. At home, she told Zhenya about dogs, about Angelina. And one day Zhenya made up her mind and came here with her twin sister.
– I remember how I turned to her with a request to help transplant one of the wards of the shelter, which met with some confusion on her part. I asked her what was wrong? And then I see a second the same girl, at that moment it seemed to me that I was overworked – now Angelina and the girls remember this first meeting with laughter. And this was the only time Angelina mixed up the twins. Externally, Zhenya and Lera, of course, are similar, but their character, behavior, and manner of speaking are all different.
– Later I learned that girls from early childhood organize competitions among themselves, each wants to stand out, but in the animal shelter they change. They reconcile. They become united, – Angelina added. Since then, the sisters began to come to help at the shelter together. They cleaned the enclosures and pounded the booths. Here they felt they were needed. And they wanted more – so that Rick’s sad fate would not be repeated by other dogs. That incident instilled a new fear in the girls, they saw dogs on the street and could not help but imagine that one day they would be seized and euthanized. Then Angelina invited them to act because action kills any phobias.
– When Angelina and I went together and took 70 dogs from the trapping at once, then more and more, I felt better. There was confidence that no one else would be killed. I had a great desire to help, I cooked porridge in a hefty cauldron, and even during the holidays I took it as my duty, – Zhenya continued. Angelina says that Zhenya is the person who will complete any task, “bringing a touch of creativity from himself.” For example, she invented the technique of “quick feeding” dogs. In order not to carry buckets of food from enclosure to enclosure, she made a cart out of a vegetable box and wheels from a stroller. She put a big bowl of porridge in there and served 30 hungry dogs at a time. Lera surprised the entire volunteer team with her diligence, she could find an approach, it seems, to any dog.
Somehow imperceptibly for them, Angelina began to spend more and more time with the girls and invited them to visit. For Angelina’s husband, Maxim, and children, Zhenya and Lera quickly became their own. Here for the first time, they were allowed to cook something, and Zhenya introduced the fashion in the family for dishes “in 10 versions”, when even traditional borscht is prepared according to different recipes, adding new ingredients.
“I enjoyed helping out at the orphanage. And I still don’t understand who at that time I came to, to the dogs or actually to Angelina and her family, Zhenya admits. In the foster family, everything was completely different. In addition to the sisters, the guardians raised two more girls from the orphanage, they also had an 18-year-old son. Contact with parents could not be established.
“The relationship was, frankly, bad: quarrels, misunderstanding of each other, claims,” Zhenya explained. – In the end, they decided to send us back to the orphanage. It was 2019.
Lera mentioned this to Angelina. She contacted the girls’ guardian and took the sisters to her home.-
Adopting Lera and Zhenya into the family was a joint decision. By that time we had known each other for about a year. We were together at the orphanage, went for walks together, to demonstrations, or the movies. They became part of our family long before they moved in with us. And when we began to live as one family, we did not feel that at least something had changed in everyone’s life. Unless they began to spend the night on the same territory, – Angelina explained. She managed to become for the girls the person who was worth waiting for, even if it was 15 years. When asked what their mother is, Zhenya, without hesitation, answers – “kind”.
– So, maybe they say about many people. But her kindness is somehow special and real. She loves all animals and sees something good in all people, – Zhenya said. – If you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, he will always help, support, and then tell you why you are wrong, and how it would be better to do it. And he cooks delicious food too! When we moved in with her, she cooked borscht. Now I just love borscht! Zhenya and Lera go to school, and become independent – their mother trusts them a lot, although before they didn’t even go to the store and didn’t know how shopping was done.
Thanks to Angelina, they have new hobbies. They became interested in how volunteering works, they travel to other cities for events for animal rights activists. And Zhenya had a dream about motorsport, her parents enrolled her in a motocross school.
Now the girls have not only loving parents, but also a common interest with them – to help animals. The family often discusses the work of the shelter at a large table. Photo: Angelina Zyryanova On New Year’s Eve, they were given puppies, Angelina taught the girls how to take care of babies, and recently Zhenya and Lera found an owner for the dogs. Girls bring some animals from the street themselves – so in the summer 10 puppies lived in the house at once.
Zhenya often remembers Rick and thinks about where he led her then. But no matter where the dog went that day, in the end, he still led the sisters to the most important thing – their mother.