Since February 24, 2022, Ukrainians has been in a crisis, fighting off Russian troops and doing everything they can to survive.
Some areas in the country have been hit a lot worse than others, including the port city of Mariupol.
After months of fighting, Russian forces finally conquered Mariupol, though not before destroying most of the city and murdering thousands of residents.
Many Ukrainians fled Mariupol as refugees, but it wasn’t as easy as picking up and leaving. According to survivor interviews, many people were caught in the cross-fire while attempting to flee, and others were captured by Russian soldiers and tortured or murdered.
Miraculously, 61-year-old Igor Pedin escaped unscathed, but he didn’t do it alone. Alongside him was his trusty companion, 9-year-old Zhu-Zhu, as pictured in the Instagram photo below:
According to The Guardian, Pedin and his dog began the trek out of Mariupol on April 23, 2022. When he left, his home was filled with smoke and food was scarce.
Somehow, Pedin and his pooch made it out of Mariupol and found a place to sleep on the couch of a stranger who’d lost his teenage son to Russian fighting just a few weeks prior. Pedin couldn’t stay long though. The area wasn’t safe and he needed to walk around 140 miles to get to the Ukrainian-held town of Zaporizhzhia.
With his dog by his side the whole way, Pedin made it through several checkpoints and military detentions, over a treacherous bridge, and witnessed more death and sorrow than one person should ever witness in a lifetime.
Eventually, he made it to the town of Zaporizhzhia. As he recalled to The Guardian, when he arrived in Zaporizhia, Pedin made his way to an aid tent. He said, “The lady asked, ‘where have you come from?’ I said, ‘I have come from Mariupol.’ She screamed: ‘Mariupol!’ She shouted out to everyone, this man has come from Mariupol on foot. Everyone stopped. I suppose it was my moment of glory.”
The journey was miraculous enough to survive on his own but it’s even more incredible that he kept his dog alive and by his side through it all. Dogs really are man’s best friend.
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