The Lost Dog and the Ukrainians

Rarely is the frequency with which I go to one of the local banks. But need pulled me across the bridge over Washington Street into San Diego neighborhood Hillcrest, where I and others looked on gasping at the most terrifying spectacle: A little dog frantically running up Vermont from Robinson and then zigzagging into moving traffic along University Avenue.

Cars braked, pulled to the side, and honked. I was sure the lost pup would get hit, but somehow he (or she) sprinted into the Hub plaza unharmed. I followed along, hoping to corral the animal to safety. The dog ran around the side of Ralph’s Supermarket and disappeared. As I pursued, a woman pulled her car alongside and asked about the animal. Was I following? She was late for an appointment but said she cried seeing the poor thing. I explained my intentions.

But my well-meaning intentions stopped at the chain-link fence, where locked gate blocked me but gaping space beneath let the runt run through. Problem: There, the knoll above presented easy path to SR-163 below and nearly certain death amidst the highway traffic. I couldn’t find the frightened fido and can only hope he (or she) was rescued and returned to the owner(s).

About 10 minutes later, I entered the bank. A gentleman waited in line before me and a pair of tellers processed other transactions. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop one of the interactions but words came catching my attention: “funds unavailable”; “do you have another card”; “Ukraine”.

Turns out the customer couple, accompanied by a little girl and another man and woman of similar age, are Ukrainian—and my guess refugees from the war-torn region. Near as I could tell: They had some trouble accessing funds they wanted to add to a local account. Eventually, the teller helped them resolve whatever electronic boogeyman troubled them.

Having failed to take photos or videos of the wayward dog (my attention turned to assisting rather than documenting), I decided to illustrate both stories with a single stealth shot using Leica Q2 Monochrom. I quietly slid off the lens cap, switched on the camera, turned my hip towards the customers at the counter, and clicked the shutter once. The fixed-lens shooter’s leaf shutter is nearly silent; no one heard.

Vitals for the Featured Image, aperture manually set (for street shooting): f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/50 sec, 28mm; 1 p.m. PST. The photo is composed as captured.

Later, coincidentally, I came upon the four Ukrainian adults and child as they slowly walked along University towards the Hub. They appeared as lost as the little dog, but obviously not frantic. Locals walk inattentively. Tourists look all around at everything. These newcomers moved uncertainly; perhaps cautiously. I would say shellshocked, and not necessarily from, or even because of, war but of being overwhelmed by circumstances—the shock of giving up, or losing, everything and being thrust into living in another country.