This story was the inspiration for not one but two films! “On a Leash on the Runway” was released in 1988, and a more recent achievement of the Russian film industry is the film “The Palm”.
Now let’s go back in time a little, to 1974 to be precise. A story that is almost half a century old is still being told today at Vnuko Airport and beyond. The owner of a German shepherd dog failed to convince the staff to let his dog, which could not pass the veterinary examination, fly. His dog named Alma had an injured eye and therefore could not get the required flight permit.
The owner of this dog simply could not miss this flight. He was the last one to board the plane and saying goodbye to his pet took a long time and was very moving.
When leaving the plane, he took the dog’s collar off in case he will never see him again, so that he would at least have a memory of him. After the plane took off, the dog ran for a long time on the runway to catch up with him.
The dog just wouldn’t part, he didn’t want his friend to go and lose him. None of the staff managed to catch the dog and calm him down. He was very upset and angry, desperate and sad. He stood there for days not wanting to leave, desperately waiting for his owner to return. At first the airport staff wanted the dog to leave, but then they took pity on his sadness and took him in. They allowed him to stay, fed him and took care of him.
However, this dog was suspicious of unknown people, did not want to cooperate with them, often hid, but he still see off every plane that took off. This dog lived at this airport for 2 years!
One day there was an incident: the pilot Vyacheslav Valentej approached the air traffic controller to draw his attention to the fact that there was a dog running around on the runway that the plane was to fly over and that it should be removed for the safety.
After being told that it was impossible to remove the dog from the runway and that it would keep returning to finally greet its owner’s return, the pilot knew he had to take appropriate action.
Vyacheslav Alexandrovich had experienced the war, was a prisoner in Dachau and thus of the camp – he knew what sadness was and saw it in the eyes of a dog.
He turned to the editorial staff of “Komsomolska Pravda” and asked them to write down that Alma was still waiting for her owner and that each of the staff would take care of the dog only if there was an owner.
All over the then USSR people were interested in adopting this dog. Everyone was touched by his emotional side and his loyalty.
The pilot received an anonymous letter from Norilsk. The writer, the owner of a sheepdog, did not believe he had the right to be the owner and feared being condemned for his betrayal.
A woman named Vera Kotlyarevskaya, a descendant of the Ukrainian classicist, left her job in Kiev and spent a few weeks in Vnukovo. Knowing that Alma would not let go of her own, she was given a sleeping pill.
Vera took Alma into her home. She patiently and carefully devoted her time to taming this dog and drawing its attention to her.
The doors of the rooms where Alma was kept were always half open, because they did not want her to feel like a prisoner at any moment.
The lady realised that the dog had accepted the family when she saw the dog gently touching her sleeping daughter.
Alma finally found comfort for her pain. Whether she forgot the man who had left her forever or just repressed the memories, we will never know, what is important is that she gave a chance to the people who never betrayed her and who stayed with her until the end of her life.