She Changed Her Life From A Successful Photographer To Caregiver To Sick Dogs.

Daria was pretty much a workaholic, and it made her miserable. She had no real life. Then, she started devoting her time and her money to help animals in need.

This is her story: “I was one of the top five Moscow wedding photographers. My clients were, for the most part, elite businessmen and politicians. Very intelligent and very cultured; they’ve definitely changed my perception of wealthy Russian people for the better.

I became a photographer because I wanted to reduce the intensity of my life. I invested all of my money into photo equipment and master classes to perfect my skills. But ended up in the same place. No vacations, simply not giving myself neither the rest nor the holidays I so desperately needed. I shut myself away at work and the only joy I had came from producing impressive photos. I realized that I was a workaholic, always preferring doing or creating something to any form of relaxation.

I then remembered my childhood when I and my classmates were talking about future professions and I said that I wanted to run a dog shelter. “It was a long time before I got my first dog. When I was in moviemaking (before photography), I got deeply involved in aiding the animals; I donated my money and volunteered on an internet forum, managing such things as finding dogs therapy and accommodation and raising funds. I had no free time then, so this was the best I could do.”

“One day, I saw a piece about a shelter puppy without an eye. It needed $150 to book a visit to the ophthalmologist. I met a volunteer to give her the money for the dog’s treatment in person and she told me, “Thank you, but we can’t take her to the vet. There’s no one to do it right now.

I was there with my husband. We exchanged a few glances and I said ‘We might as well do it ourselves.’ At that point, everything became clear and simple. The owner of the shelter came and placed the flea-bitten furball onto my lap while I was sitting in the car. I looked at her asking, ‘Is this a puppy?’”

“My husband and I wanted a seventh dog. One that was in such terrible condition, nobody would take it. There wasn’t a dog like that in Moscow, but there was one in Krasnodar. When I spotted it in an e-catalog, I immediately felt its eyes looking directly at me. We took the 7-month puppy home and the same night it started pinning our six quiet and calm dogs to the ground. The midnight fights wouldn’t end, so we took it to a dog trainer – but it didn’t help.

It would howl, demolishing the apartment and even act aggressively towards us. It turned out that the dog had a craniocerebral trauma, that would give him all sorts of mirages, and it could’ve attacked in a blink of an eye.

The dog was attacking us, going directly for the neck and face. It’s huge, too. When I called the cynologist, he said, “Listen, this has to be the end. Call the police and let them shoot it. My husband knew what had to be done. He took a blanket, luring the dog to the hall. After some back-and-forth, he successfully threw the blanket on its head, pressed it to the floor and muzzled it instead.”

“Later, the dog specialist called us and asked gently, ‘Well, is everyone alive?’ I said yes and asked if I could give the dog to the handler for another attempt to educate it, train it, and get rid of its aggression. He said that even if it went through extensive training, one little detail could make it snap, any unforeseen stressful situation could force it into a breakdown and end up with innocent victims. So I asked if there was anything I could do to make the dog happy. He suggested giving the dog away, somewhere outside the city with a lot of space. TO GIVE THE DOG AWAY!”

“Then and there, we took out two loans and bought a country house 100 miles away from Moscow and moved there with our dogs. We built six enclosures for our rescue dogs and began living completely new and different lives.”

“We love them and devote our lives to them. To us, they are family members. They’ll remain with us forever and we do not want to give them away to anyone.”

“I finally feel that I’m not wasting my life but spending my time meaningfully. I’m helping these animals and am sincerely enjoying it. I know I can take responsibility in taking care of them, but if we’d give them to someone else I’d be worrying if they could give them as much space, food, and love.”

“Once, I came across a girl volunteer and we became good friends. As we were having one of our conversations, I heard her say, ‘Well, my foxes…’ I interrupted her, ‘Stop, wait a minute,’ I said. ‘Foxes?’ I learned that she had two rescue foxes and that foxes could actually be saved. I strongly believe that teaching a good attitude towards animals is very important.

Even those with disabilities can lead happy lives. And foxes can be born not only to become someone’s clothing.”

“Talking about money, of course, it’s difficult. In total, we need to feed about 200 animals, and we feed them healthy, balanced diets including meat, fish, poultry. We do not spare money for their food. We also have to provide them with medical care, pay the people who work here, and take care of ourselves.

Some raise money to pay the employees, some donate as much as they can whenever they can. I am eternally grateful to them! We don’t have any sponsors, and we don’t expect any of them. My principle of living with animals is that they’re your responsibility.” 

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