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The Romanov Family’s Dog Survived Their Grim Fate And Wound Up Thousands Of Miles Away

Nicholas II of the Romanovs — a dynasty that had lasted for just over 300 years and provided 18 tsars — was the last ruler of imperial Russia. Nicolas abdicated in 1917 as revolution convulsed Russia, upending the status quo forever. But there were some close Romanov family associates who understood nothing of the momentous events happening over their heads: the faithful family pets.

Confirmed animal-lovers

Members of the imperial family were confirmed animal-lovers and by all accounts owned a veritable menagerie including cats, dogs, horses, and more exotically a pair of elephants. But after the Tsar and his family were sent into exile — effectively imprisoned in their own country — the host of animals was severely reduced. Just three dogs joined the family in the Western Siberian city of Tobolsk. 

Jimmy and Joy

The three dogs all belonged to one or other of the Tsar’s and Tsarina’s five children. Jimmy was a Cavalier King Charles spaniel belonging to Anastasia, the youngest of Nicolas’ four daughters. Tsarevich Alexei, Nicolas’ youngest child, only son and heir to the throne, kept his cocker spaniel Joy. Alexei was 12 when his father was forced to abdicate in 1917. 

Ortipo

The final pooch was a French bulldog called Ortipo which belonged to Tatiana, the middle child of the siblings. In her diary, Tatiana showed her evident affection for the miniature bulldog. “The dog is overly cute,” she wrote. Dmitri Malama, a Russian Army officer who met Tatiana while recovering from wounds, gave her the little bulldog in 1914. So the Tsar’s children had managed to hang on to three of their pets during the chaos and bloodshed of the 1917 revolution. 

Alexei and Joy

Alexei’s pet Joy had his origins abroad — he was descended from a dog that had come to Russia from Britain. The Tsarevich suffered from hemophilia, a condition that means even a slight cut can result in death through unstoppable bleeding. As a result the youngster was not allowed to mix with his peers for fear of an accident that could prove fatal. So the company of Joy was all the more important to Alexei.