Sunday Read: Ivan and the dogs.

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” All the money went and there was nothing to buy food with…………So mothers and fathers tried to find things they could get rid of, things that ate, things that drank or things that needed to be kept warm…….The dogs went first.”

“Ivan and the Dogs” is based on the extraordinary true story of Ivan Mishukov, the sole protagnist and the life of the unique tale.

The book revolves around Ivan,a 4 year old boy who abandons his mother and an abusive father to face the vast and cruel streets of Moscow, when he finds that he has no choice but to follow a road he makes for himself. As he continues living on the street he finds that there are not many people who come up for the difficulties of others, rather can be found harassing the helpless for a self motive, when he is refused to even sleep in the pavements speaking of how he has no money to pay as rent.

Unaware of the greed that lured in the hearts of men, he seeks for refuge from a bunch of boys, whom he finds of the same age and could supposedly help him, he soon finds out that there is no true hope as there is nothing but money that makes the world move, when the boys kick him out, as was unable to pay any form of rent. Living upon the heaps of garbage for a few days with the occasional fearful gaze of a dog, he gets lured to a Bombzi who offers him some food after a couple of days. Upon uncovering his motives he runs away after the white dog bites the man, helping them both to escape. After finding a place away from the streets, he breaks the food he got into two halves, offering the second part to the dog.

Slowly but gradually Ivan wins the trust and protection of the street dogs by being selfless and kind. Due to great affection he soon builds up for the dogs, he experiences a fierce purity of thought believing that the humans are evil and can be found lying at every step they take, when on the other hand the world of animals is a pure one, with no place for lies.

With a steady flow of rhythms and lullabies, Hattie Noylar perplexes the reader forcing him to greatly involve in the young kid’s story oneself, when suddenly with a reveal we find the plot advancing to a moment when Ivan and his dogs face great trouble when a few men from the Russian Militia kill the dogs, capturing Ivan and taking him to an orphanage, where from he gets adopted a few years later.

Despite a basic happy ending to the story the book fails to impress me at the brink of it’s very last parts, when it abandons all the basic plots astray, simply ending at a point of Ivan’s life when he finds his dogs to be everlasting when he finds them in every thing he sights upon, promising an immortal part of his life.

This spellbinding story of survival and need conjures the streets of Moscow in the 1990s through the eyes of a child. With innocence and fear, Ivan’s perceptions of the world are beautifully described, from the acute awareness of hunger and fear, to the innocent understanding of chemical abuse in the ’empty eyes’ of children and the ridiculed ‘Bombzi’.

” I see my dogs, all of my dogs.
They are singing to me:
Vano, Strelka, Ruslan, Kugya and Belka

We’re down in the dark city and it’s very
Cold. Belka goes still and we all stand and wait. Suddenly she barks and we run, run into the wild, wild forest,
Into forever. Into now. And this is now.
Running and running with my dogs in the white falling snow”

Review- Apoorv shandilya
Extract- taken from the book,”Ivan and the dogs.”


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