During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 61-year-old Igor Pedin refused to go wherever with out his nine-year-old Terrier combine named Zhu-Zhu. The man and his canine had been in Mariupol, which is at the moment a Russian-controlled space within the southeastern a part of Ukraine. He had household in Zaporizhzhia, which was a Ukraine-controlled metropolis about 225 kilometers (140 miles) away.

Despite the dangers, Pedin knew he needed to get himself and Zhu-Zhu to security. The solely means he may get there was by foot, so he deliberate a protracted and harmful journey. To achieve success, he’d should attempt to be an “invisible man” to keep away from Russian troops.


Not Safe in Mariupol

When Russian troops took over Mariupol, they started going home to deal with and capturing folks. So, irrespective of how troublesome it appeared, Pedin knew he needed to get out of there. He packed a bag of provides, rigorously deciding on essential gadgets to maintain it as gentle as doable. Then, he and Zhu-Zhu began their journey, performing as “ghosts.”

Pedin wasn’t leaving a lot behind in Mariupol since meals and water had been scarce and useless our bodies had been piling up within the streets. Yet, there was a protracted stretch of Russian-controlled territory forward of him, so he and Zhu-Zhu needed to be cautious. They needed to keep away from mines and Russian troopers, in addition to go many grieving households on their means.

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“I looked like a vagabond to them, I was nothing. I was dirty and covered from dust, as my house had been filled with a fog of smoke. I walked out of the city by this motorway and at the top I turned around. I looked back down at the city and I said to myself, it was the right decision. I said goodbye. There was an explosion. I turned and walked on,” Pedin mentioned.

Ukraine map during Russian invasion

His first cease was within the city of Nikolske, which was 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away. A person who had simply misplaced his son let Pedin and Zhu-Zhu stick with him.

A 140-Mile Journey

During every cease Pedin made, he solely stayed briefly. He at all times acquired up vivid and early to proceed his journey. He was confronted by Russian troopers in Nikolske and Rozivka. So, he wasn’t fairly as invisible as he’d hoped. But fortunately, after being completely questioned, Pedin and Zhu-Zhu had been in a position to proceed their journey, regardless of being exhausted.

However, when Pedin lastly made it to an space that wasn’t taken over by Russian troopers, he confronted his largest impediment but. The street bridge to Zaporizhzhia had been destroyed, leaving a 30-meter (98-foot) drop. The bridge’s slender steel body was nonetheless in place, so Pedin tried to discover a method to cross it. He tied up Zhu-Zhu and his bag after which tried crossing it alone to verify it was protected. Then, when he felt assured, he got here again and introduced his bag after which Zhu-Zhu throughout.

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Ukraine man walking dog

Ukrainian troopers on the opposite aspect had been amazed that Pedin had crossed the bridge. However, he wasn’t in a position to take a car to Zaporizhzhia together with his canine. So, he and Zhu-Zhu needed to stroll throughout hills to achieve their vacation spot. At that time, Zhu-Zhu was so exhausted that she may barely stroll.

“The dog just couldn’t go on. I had to walk up the road with my bag, and then come back for her and carry her up. I said, ‘If you don’t walk we will both die, you have to walk.’ She walked up the next hill,” mentioned Pedin.

Zhu-Zhu Struggles to Adjust

As Pedin and Zhu-Zhu had been strolling, a truck stopped to take them the remainder of the best way. They arrived at a tent stuffed with volunteers, and when a lady requested the place they had been from, she was shocked to listen to they walked from Mariupol.

Now, Pedin is counting on his dad and mom for shelter, however he’s apprehensive about Zhu-Zhu. The canine’s paws had been badly scratched up from the lengthy stroll, and he or she is now further delicate to loud sounds after witnessing so many bombings. Pedin hopes to discover a vet to test on the canine, however he doesn’t know the way he’ll afford Zhu-Zhu’s medical care.

Ukraine man holding his dog

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“She is very frightened by the sound of whistling. For example, when a bus passes by and the brakes squeak. She is very afraid of that because this sound reminds her of the whistling of bombs that flew and exploded then in Mariupol. And then she was afraid of the sound of military planes in Mariupol. Who flew and dropped bombs. So she is still afraid of these sounds,” mentioned Pedin.

Pedin and Zhu-Zhu have lots of recovering to do each mentally and bodily. But for now, they’re protected from the bombings close to Mariupol, and so they’re fortunate to have one another. Pedin clearly cares about his canine very a lot, and he’ll proceed to verify she stays protected.

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