A Chiswick resident, a stepson fighting in Ukraine and his dog, now also defending his country

Image above: Roman Romanovich with Morty

While most of us are able to watch the news with a kind of detached horror, for some the war in Ukraine is personal. The world is now so interconnected of course there are people in Chiswick with relatives caught up in it.

Stuart Kerr has written for The Chiswick Calendar about the experience of cheering from the sidelines, doing whatever their family can to support his wife’s’ son, his stepson Roman Romanovich, a 42 year old computer expert with three children of his own, who has signed up to fight for his country.

Read Stuart’s first guest blog on ‘Romchick’ joining the Ukrainian army here:
A glimpse of Romchick in Putin’s war from a little house in Chiswick

Stuart has recently heard that Roman’s family dog, pining for him in Lviv, has been allowed to join him in the Ukrainian volunteer army.

Breaking News From Ukraine – Morty Signs Up!

by Stuart Kerr

Breaking news from somewhere secret in Ukraine is that Morty, Roman’s 10 month old miniature Schnauzer, has signed-up and gone to war against Russia. Private Morty is now with Romchick in the trenches, guarding against any incursion onto Ukrainian soil from somewhere other than the east or the south.

Fact is, when Roman went to war over a month ago and disappeared from his happy little world in Lviv, Morty decided that life wasn’t worth living and was seemingly content to fade away – or whatever doggies do when they’re pining and want to give up the ghost. So eventually, after getting this news, Roman sought (and was granted) permission for the doggy to join him on the front line. To see how he gets on.

As it happens there was precedent to this. Morty isn’t Ukraine’s only canine soldier. In fact, the National Guard has quite a few highly trained canine combatants, all brilliant at sniffing-out important things and listening for hidden danger long before it becomes audible to the human ear. Most of them fully grown Caucasian Shepherd dogs.

Image above: Morty and Roman on duty

Thankfully and even though Morty is somewhat on the small scale as dog-soldiers go, he was soon to prove himself and become accepted by his new colleagues at arms. Obviously they can’t physically look up to him because of his rather short stature. But they’ve certainly learned to “look down” upon their latest proud recruit. Look down with well-deserved admiration.

Apart from his size, there’s a lot of the Muhammad Ali about our Morty. In the sense that, both at play and in combat, he’s incredibly fast on his paws – with a natural tactical instinct to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. A bit like some kind of pretty cross between a cobra and a mongoose.

Extremely clever beyond his years, it soon became a foregone conclusion amongst army experts that, given any opportunity, Morty would readily bite off anything of diminished peanut size within any Russian’s trousers and fast reduce the pillaging murderer to a quivering piece of shrivelled jelly, screaming for mercy. Widely respected and highly popular, even the human Ukrainian soldiers adore him. He’s now been granted permanent leave to remain.

It’s Morty’s brain that separates him from the average canine soldier and defines his character. This dog simply learns quick. Very quick. From the very beginning, thrown into a world with no carpets, doggy bowls or even a sofa to jump on, Morty simply fitted himself into everything new, almost as if soldiering was already in his blood, just waiting to be unleashed.

Images above: Morty with Ani; Morty with Roman

Straightaway he understood and accepted that serious dogs simply do not bark whilst at war. On the front line and often on duty with Romchick throughout the night, Morty’s chosen means of communication with his master has become a very controlled quietly low-pitched growl. Sitting on a platform high in the trench he stares silently into the distance, with ears pricked listening for any movement out there in the darkness.

From the very first, Morty also learned to be bi-lingual. It’s a basic fact of life that dogs cannot whistle. Just as humans cannot bark. Even though some think they can, in reality those noises are but a silly imitation of the real thing and mean absolutely nothing to a dog.

Anyway, clever Morty has now picked up from Roman a secondary language – the quiet whistle. By which means Roman is able to tell him exactly what he has to do next. Something like one whistle meaning follow me, two whistles meaning keep your head down and don’t say a word… and so on. All top secret. Like the Enigma Code only with a bit more enigma and a lot less code. No talking. No barking. He loves it. Basically Morty loves being out alone with the boss.

Off duty is entirely another matter. As it turns out, this innocent little chap, not yet a teenager, seems to have developed an embryonic eye for beautiful women. Not any old woman. Just the one, proving that Morty’s certainly no womaniser. Quite the opposite in fact, he’s always behaved like a thorough gentleman in the company of the fairer sex. Up until the time, a few days ago, when he first clapped eyes on the gorgeous Ani and immediately went all of a quiver in all four knees with his tongue hanging out.

At least six times Morty’s size, he and Ani are almost inseparable. Almost – because up to now Ani has been locked in a huge cage whilst she undergoes more training and a period of familiarisation. So the two of them meet through wire and kiss through wire and coo at each other through wire, leaping and yelping about going round and round in circles with their tails wagging like mad. Spring is in the air. Even on the battlefields of Ukraine.

Images above: Roman

“Unlike Putin I don’t trade in cannon-fodder”

A week back he drove his mum in Chiswick to the edge of a nervous breakdown when he announced that the head of his “Dad’s Army” platoon, an experienced professional sergeant, was bored now the Russians have retreated from Kiev – and wanted to be transferred east to the Donbas where the main battle will now continue. Roman and a few of his mates had told the sergeant they wanted to go with him.

Thankfully a big Ukrainian army boss arrived and told everyone to shut up and behave themselves. “Unlike Putin I don’t trade in cannon-fodder” he commanded. “So every one of you lot are staying put until I say otherwise.”

He added that the Donbas in the weeks to come will be no place for volunteers with just a month’s experience. Besides which, wherever they are exactly, is still considered highly dangerous and sufficiently important to keep guarded.

Meanwhile, Stryy is a pretty town south of Lviv in the western Ukraine. Roman was born there. In the central square once stood a late 1940’s statue of the Liberating Russian soldier with his arms outstretched holding a baby (spot the irony). This exact same statue was replicated in squares across eastern Europe, commemorating Russia’s great victory over Nazi Germany. Telling how gentle soldiers from this great Russian nation saved women and children from the evil dictator Hitler. No mention of rape, pillage and murder of innocent citizens.

Anyway – after winning independence from USSR in 1990 right through until about 2014, Ukrainian cities were renamed and purposely De-Russified. Whilst thousands of statues including all the ones of Lenin and famous Russian generals and including this ridiculous bronze statue in Stryy were dragged off their plinths and destroyed by cheering Ukrainian locals.

Image above: ‘Soviet Soldier’ statue toppled in Lviv

Cancelling Russian propaganda

There was a 25 feet high commemorative slab beside that statue, detailing the names of all those towns and cities which after May 9th1945 were awarded “Hero” status by Stalin the new Soviet “owner” of Ukraine. Last weekend, with Mariupol reduced to blood and dust and with news of Russian war crimes making worldwide headlines, the good citizens of Stryy returned to the square, fixed ropes around that slab, and with gleeful applause, unceremoniously dragged it to the ground.

A futile gesture no doubt. But necessary. It is now just another small pile of unwanted and uninvited Russian disinformation meeting its deserved end. By the time this war is over there’ll be massive piles of honest and innocent Ukrainian rubble to keep it company.

PS:- Romchick’s baby sister Iryna wishes to thank all friends and colleagues who contributed so generously towards the armoured equipment sent to protect the volunteer army in Ukraine.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The west London families preparing to host Ukrainian refugees

See also: Chiswick’s ‘Russian spy’ Sergey Brilev sanctioned by British Government

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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