Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Croatian (not really a) Pet of the Month: Draco from HGSS

Of course, we're aware of the fact that Draco is not a pet, he'd probably be very insulted if he understood the implications of that word. What he is, is a working dog, a highly esteemed colleague to the men and women working in the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS), a six-year-old search and rescue dog with the record of nine (!) people found in his SAR career!

Kruno Stipetić trained Draco to work with him for the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, although when Draco first came to him back when he was still a puppy, it didn't seem like it was going to be such a success, Bogdan Blotnej writes for 24sata. Nobody worked with Draco on basic commands and training, so they had to start his training from scratch, and it took them two years of hard work and training for Draco to become a licensed SAR dog.

He passed the HGSS test, which is considered to be one of the most difficult in the world. He's licensed to perform search and rescue in collapsed buildngs and in avalanches, but luckily, neither of the two happen often in Croatia, so he helps with other SAR missions as well. Recently on Pašman more than a hundred people searched for a missing woman for over two days. It took Draco around half an hour to find her, alive and well.

Although he's only six years old, he appears somewhat older to those who meet him first - probably because of the grey hair on his snout, but also because of the serious demeanor and obedience. Mr. Stipetić says that the grey hair might be because Draco feels the strees of his job, and that his hair started turning grey when he was only 3.5 years old.

He takes his job seriously, never gets scared (even when on a mode of transportation that he's not used to), enjoys snow and stays focused until his work is completely done. Sometimes he finds people that have been lost and they are so happy to see him that they start petting him immediately and thanking him for his help. That confuses and disturbs him, because he knows that his job is not over until he manages to get HGSS people to find both him and the person they were looking for.

HGSS has named Draco officially the most succesful SAR dog in Croatia, because of his nine finds in his career, where on average such a dog manages to find two or three people in their career. After each succesfull mission Draco gets a reward for his hard work - he gets to play with his ball, which is for him more important than the food is sometimes!


Find the other winners of the title "Croatian Pet of the Month" here.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Croatian Pet of the Month: Malina

Croatian pet of the month this month: Malina on Wheels from Osijek! 


Her story begins in a ditch, somewhere near Bizovac, a village near Osijek in 2013. Well, it doesn't necessarily begin there, but someone wanted for her life to end there. But, that wasn't meant to be. She was just a bit older than a puppy when something really, really bad happened to her, no-one is exactly sure what it was, was she hit by a car or did some monster hit her with a boot, but she ended up in that ditch, not able to move, without any food, water or shelter. She spent 5 full days there, without any help, either no-one saw her or they just waited for nature to take its course. Well, after 5 days, someone paid attention to the little fighter, and took her to the Pobjede dog shelter, where they knew she would get the help she needs. They helped the poor hurt, hungry, thirsty little dog covered in blood, took her to the vet - still not believing that she might survive the ordeal. The vet did the best they could but determined that her spinal cord is permanently damaged and that Malena (that's what they named her at first) would never be able to use her hind legs properly again. She recovered as best she could from the other injuries, and was living in the shelter: she had her little blue washbowl in which she stayed almost all the time, she had the water and food, some of the volunteers petted her in passing and that was to be her destiny.



Then Sunčica walked into the shelter, where she volunteered regularly, helping walk the dogs and play with them for a while. Malena's wonderful, smart, large eyes looked at her, taking other dogs for a walk, playing with them, and she remembered the little invalid. Then the shelter published a calendar for the next year, with a wonderful photo of Malena exclaiming that she wanted to go to the seaside for her vacation (which is a joke related to the title of a Croatian movie "blockbuster"), and the final blow came when the shelter wrote on Facebook that it would be very, very hard for Malena to spend the winter there, because of her inability to walk. That's when Sunčica decided that it was time for her to give Malena a chance for a new life, with her, and said that she would foster Malena temporary, to see how they would get along, because she doubted that anyone else would do that in time.


It won't surprise you to learn that they got along great, and soon enough their living together became a permanent thing, not just temporary. It took some getting used to, for both sides, but eventually Sunčica realized that Malena is, first of all, completely ready accept the change of her name to Malina (new name was given by one of the people from the shelter, and it translates to Raspberry in English), then they both figured out how doggie needs will be met in Sunčica's home - Sunčica puts down a baby pad for Malina, she does what she needs to do and then barks so that the owner knows she needs to bring out the dry one.

Next order of business and the thing that made Malina a Croatian pet celebrity was a wheelchair. Once it was obvious that it's a healthy young dog, that wants to move, socialize and run, Sunčica attempted to build a wheelchair for Malina, allowing her to run with her front feet, holding her hind legs up. The first attempt was, admittedly, not successful, so they asked a gentleman who has already built wheelchairs for dogs in the shelter to built one just for Malina. And, not only did it make fully functional, but he also made it gorgeous, with pink rims and a "Heartbreaker" license plate.



These days, you can sometimes see Malina running around in her wheelchair in Osijek. Just don't be surprised by how fast she is! Her owner has started a Facebook page, first intended to be a fan-page of sorts for Malina, but with time it has become a hub for the adoption of the difficult-to-find-homes dogs, other dogs with disabilities, the page also helps those people who are crowdfunding the vet care for their dogs etc. And, of course, they don't live alone: with them lives one blind Đuka, Kari who walks on three paws, Bugi with arthritis, and additionally, one of Malina's vet's from the early days - Sunčica recently married a vet, Tomislav, who still takes care of Malina whatever she needs.


Hopefully, they will continue to take good care of their pets, and Malina will get to run in her wheelchair (a new and improved model of the wheels is coming Malina's way soon!) for years to come!



Other winners of the prestigious title of Croatian pet of the month: Charlie, Mona, Tesa.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Croatian Pet of the Month: Tesa

After Mona and Charlie, this time our “Pet of the Month” is Tesa, the forest-running dog.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Croatian Pet of the Month: Charlie

After the success of the first “Pet of the Month” article on Total Croatia News, this month we feature Charlie.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Croatian Pet of the Month: Mona

First in a series of “Pet of the Month” articles on Total Croatia News will feature Mona, an extremely pretty dog with an important set of duties.