Thursday, 10 December 2020

VIDEO: Man Takes His Pet Chicken Shopping in the City Streets of Split

December 10, 2020 – Why did the chicken cross the road? Well, to go to the dućan (store) with his owner, of course! Residents bewildered to see one man taking his pet chicken shopping in the city streets of Split.

Understanding Croatia is often like looking through a kaleidoscope – the closer you look, the more it shifts in and out of the focus of comprehension. Nowhere is that more true than in the seaside city of Split.

Visitors are not the only ones to see this. Split's inhabitants know it too. Despite its reputation for the unorthodox, happenings in Split are still capable of raising the eyebrows of those who live there. And, that was certainly the case a couple of days ago, when residents of the Gripe neighbourhood were bewildered to see one man going shopping accompanied by his pet chicken. Their casual walk to the shops, which sees the pet chicken being led on the kind of leash you'd more usually find on a dog, was captured on video. It is one of the more curious chick flicks TCN has seen this year.

Gripe in Split is a family neighbourhood, known for its sporting facilities and the old fortifications which lie on the hill after which it is named. Even in times of social distancing, it's not uncommon to find neighbours milling around, chatting to each other on a weekend morning. Their idle gossip was given egg-stra fuel on Saturday when the man and his pet chicken made their remarkable hen-trance.

As the weather across Croatia turns colder, this is the traditional time for pigs to be turned into the sausages and bacon that will last through the winter. The chickens and turkeys are safe for now, although only for another week or so. Perhaps this timing egg-splains the walking of the pet chicken? Maybe the owner didn't want to let the prize bird out of his sight so close to Christmas? Or perhaps, given that a camera seems to have been at the ready to film their exploits, the walking of the pet chicken was just a welcome moment of tomfoolery? Whichever it may be, the footage does have an endearing quality. Poultry in motion, if you will.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Zagreb Welcomes First Pet Food Vending Machine in Croatia

November 11, 2020 – Entrepreneur Ženja Moskaljov and his associate Iva Antolić turned a great idea into a good business move and set up the first pet food vending machine on Mainz Street in Zagreb.

As Večernji list / Mateja Ježovita reports, the owner of the vending machine with five food products, Ženja Moskaljov, and his associate Iva Antolić placed the machine in front of the Dog & Style store on Grada Mainza Street in Zagreb. After extensive research, they say, they are almost certain that it is the only such apparatus in Europe, as there is no record of any other.

Insert coins, treats come out – but for dogs!

Put in coins or banknotes, grab a juice, snacks, coffee, chocolate… And go. This is roughly how self-service vending machines work, which we can see at almost every turn in waiting rooms, various institutions, health care institutions, bakeries... They are simple and practical. Two colleagues came to the idea to put food and other things for animals inside them, and so the first self-service pet food vending machine in Croatia was created. Well, not only in Croatia.

"There is no such machine in Croatia or the region. The only thing I managed to find on the Internet is that similar models are found in China," Moskaljov points out.

He got the idea for the pet food vending machine at a business lunch in June, when he talked with a friend and business partner about vending machines, so the thought came that he could offer products for animals as well.

"Then he helped me to and connected me with the company Automatik servis from Buzet, which sold me the device," the entrepreneur says.

The vending machine has been in front of the store since August, it works from 0 to 24, and you can buy basic products such as daily meals, sweets, toys, garbage bags… That is, what every pet owner needs almost daily.

More pet food vending machines to come

"We have carefully studied which products are best sold when customers go for a walk with the dog or hang out in cafes where pets can have fun with their treats and while the store is not open. We left the prices the same as in the store, and they range from 10 to 25 kuna," says Moskaljov.

They plan to have two more locations this year where they would install the same vending machine, but they have not revealed the addresses yet. And in addition to the success of the vending machine, he is also satisfied with the work of the store he opened seven years ago.

"In the beginning, it was just one type of food and a very scarce supply of dog equipment in a much smaller store. As the need for new products and services grew, so did the range change and supplement, so that the crown of the five-year business would be the opening of a new store. And with the new ‘three in one’ concept, which includes a pet shop, a veterinary pharmacy, and a dog grooming salon. So that pet owners can get everything in one place. The company's revenues continue to grow from month to month, not at the rates from the beginning, but compared to 2019, they are certainly 60 percent higher," said the entrepreneur proudly.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Dumovec Pet Shelter Presents their 2020 Calendar #BlackDogsMatter

The Dumovec pet shelter, located in Zagreb and partially financed by the city, is one of the biggest pet shelters in Croatia. To help with fundraising, they've created a 2020 calendar, containing only photos of black dogs from the shelter.

On Black Friday, the new calendar will be presented at the shelter. The idea is to promote the adoption of black dogs and to make such animals more appealing to potential adopters (and also to calendar-buyers!) they've been given various accessories to wear by the Croata brand, such as ties, bow-ties, scarves etc.

There is a strange phenomenon that exists known as "black dog syndrome", which implies that black dogs are less adoptable than their white, brown or multicolour counterparts.

Damir Skok, the director of Zagreb Zoo (the shelter belongs in this organisation) says that it's an interesting fact, caused by numerous psychological and cultural factors. All those factors lead to black dogs being overlooked in the shelters when people are adopting.

To break the stigma, they've had some Croatian celebrities pose with black dogs for photos, and former successful female hammer thrower Ivana Brkljačić adopted a black dog herself. The shelter's goal is for people to just stop by a black dog, look at the animal carefully, and try to see the animal's personality. They do that with dogs of other colours, but most still, unfortunately, tend to just walk past the black dogs. Black dogs, just like all the other dogs in the shelter, deserve to be given a chance to have a new life, as their personalities are the same as any that of any other dog.

Some just want to cuddle, some want to run around in the forest all day, some love to swim - and none of that has anything to do with their coat colour!

You can purchase the #BlackDogsMatter calendar on the Dumovec shelter's website, and on December the 7th, you can come and visit the shelter. A big holiday get-together will be organised on that Saturday so that the dogs in the shelter can feel some of the holiday cheer as well.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Dog Celebrity Gobi and Owner Dion Leonard in Zagreb Promoting their Book

Dion Leonard is an ultra-marathoner, who went through a life-changing event while on a race in the Gobi desert, where he met and decided to adopt a stray dog he later named Gobi.

The love-at-first-sight story of Dion and Gobi caught the attention of numerous media portals when it was happening in 2016, and the interest led to Dion writing a book about his journey, titled Finding Gobi: The True Story of a Little Dog and an Incredible Journey. The book became an instant hit and a New York Times bestseller with numerous editions sold around the world, so Dion, his wife Lucja, and Gobi came to Zagreb to promote the Croatian translation of the book. Total Croatia News sat down for an interview with them before the main promotional event at the Hoću Knjigu megastore in the centre of Zagreb.

I first asked Dion to re-tell the story of how he and Gobi met:

It was 2016, and I was in China, in the Xinjian province, for a multi-stage (7 days, six stages, basically a marathon each day) race of around 155 miles (approximately 250 kilometres). On the second day of the race, I looked down and saw a small dog at my feet. At first, I thought that it was a distraction, I was very competitive, and hoping to win the race as it has been my return to racing after a year of recovery from an injury. But then the dog started running next to me and keeping up with my pace (author's note: you absolutely need to see Gobi in person to be able to fully appreciate how small she is, and how short her legs are, so, how difficult that must've been for her).

She began to grow on me, and for her, it was obvious that she fell in love with me at that first moment. I took care of her, fed her and made sure she was okay – mind you, it's a race where you need to bring everything with you, food, shelter, the only thing you get at checkpoints is the water. And after a couple of days, a massive moment came when the runners had to cross a big river, 100 meters wide and with a strong current. I was third at that point, and I could just see the two other guys in front of me, I jumped into the river and made it halfway across when I heard her barking and yelping from the bank. There's no way she could've made it across safely. It was a split-second decision for me to turn around and get her, and give up any chance of winning the race, and that's precisely what I did. That night I named her Gobi, after the desert, and made her a promise to bring her back home with me to Edinburgh.

But, it turns out that was easier said than done, right?

Well, yes. Gobi didn't run all of the stages with me, because it was too hot for her to do so, and I asked the organisers to help me and bring her to the stage finish. But, when we got to the finish , it became clear that Gobi would have to stay in China for a while. It just took some time for me to be able to make arrangements for her to go to Beijing, go through the paperwork and vaccinations and the quarantine requirements before being able to board a plane to the UK.

I left her with some people who promised to take care of her while I made all of that happen, and right after I found someone willing to make sure the process was as smooth as possible, I got a phone call to tell me that she was lost. It was a nightmare, I was in Edinburgh, I wasn't sure that anyone was telling me the truth, I felt like I needed to do something so I just decided to go back.

Urumqi, the town where she was supposed to be, is a very desolate place, very distant from the rest of China in terms of geography, language, religion, customs... It's also as far as you can get away from an ocean in the world! I got there with the idea that I would try and find her, but I didn't speak the language nor did I have any help, except for one lady that volunteered right away to look for Gobi. But, then word got out, international media got interested, we were featured on CNN, BBC, ABC, FOX, I was able to crowdfund some money to help the search, more people got involved, including the Chinese Government.

It was a crazy period (and you can read all about it in the book!), but after a while, and when I was starting to feel that I'd never be able to find her, we got a call from a family who wasn't sure that it was her, but that they'd found a dog. And yes, it was her, and when she saw or heard me, she jumped right back to how we met, on my feet, among all those people who were there with me. Now that we were back together, it was just a matter of time and patience to bring her back home with me.


And how has she adapted to her life in Europe and her life as a celebrity?

She's done perfectly. She's a very happy dog, always happy to be around us, loves the people, loves the crowds. She's met the Queen and other members of the Royal family, she's met movie stars and rock stars, and enjoys that. Her official racing days are over, but she loves to run around Chamonix, where the family has since moved to, she enjoys the snow more than the heat – but that is not too strange, because although she comes from a desert, she came to me on the Tian Shan mountain range, so she probably knew of snow. She's not a big fan of the sea/ocean, perhaps because she's never seen it in her previous life, and her first jump in was at a beach in Scotland, and it was very cold, so she came right out and decided she wasn't much of a fan.

You've been in Croatia for a few days, has she maybe changed her mind here?

We were in Lovran for a few days before coming to Zagreb and, no, not really, while the sea and the beach looked beautiful to us, she only got in a little bit and then came out, sorry to say.

You said that Gobi's racing days are over, but there will be a race in Zagreb organised, and it's for a cause that's very important to you?

Yes, one of the things that I wanted to accomplish when I decided to write the book was to raise awareness of the importance of adopting dogs or pets in general. Gobi was a stray, in a very dire situation, living where she was, but adopting her has truly changed my life so much for the better!

She now lives with me, my wife Lucja and our cat Lara (who now also has a book, although a fiction story, not a true story like Gobi's), and helping other dogs in her situation, without owners or a loving home, is a vital goal for us. That's why we're happy to be participating in the race on Saturday, with the aim of fundraising for the Zagreb shelter. We hope that many people will come to the race and run the 5 km with us. Still, if you can't make it, you can help the pets at the shelter in many different ways: financial donations, you can donate other items they might need (such as blankets or similar stuff, now that the winter is coming), you can go and take a walk with the dogs there, to make their days brighter while they're waiting for "forever home"... Or, the best thing yet, you can adopt a dog and bring them home with you!


The race will be held at Maksimir Park, on Saturday, October the 19th, with the event starting at 10:00. You'll be able to meet Gobi, many other dogs, donate to the shelter (all of the proceeds from the race will also be donated to them), enjoy a lovely autumn day in Zagreb's greatest park - whether you decide to run the 5 km race or not! 

Read more about Croatian pets on TCN

Monday, 26 August 2019

Monty's Underdog Marathon Swimming Race for Dogs and their Owners Held

As we've already written, Crikvenica near Rijeka, in the northern part of the Croatian coast, has one of the most amazing pet-friendly places in Croatia - Monty's Dog Beach Bar. This weekend an amazing Underdog Marathon swimming race was held there, for dogs and their owners!

The race is called "Underdog Marathon Crikvenica", and while we're not entirely sure how long the marathon exactly was, we know that this was the third annual race, and that the number of participants is growing each year, which makes the event bigger and more entertaining. This year it included the meet and greet with staff and dogs from the Dog Shelter maintained by the Crikvenica Veterinary Clinic, and after that the human and canine athletes started their swimming adventure.

Honestly, it was probably not much of a marathon per se, as the race took only half an hour, and it included a brief run along the coast and then a swim to the bar. Around twenty dog+owner couples participated, and you can see some amazing photos (including some which might be considered cheating) at Novi List. After the race itself additional contests were held: dog wine drinking and dog icecream eating competitions (no participation from the owners was required for those disciplines, (un)fortunately).



You might be wondering, were there prizes? Yes, there were. The winners of the marathon, Nimbus and his owner Marin, who also won the inaugural marathon in 2017, were awarded a free stay for two nights for two people and their dog (of course!) in Padova Premium Camping Resort on Rab. Runners-up, Zita and Igor, got a dinner for two and their dog (Zita, please, not some other dog!) at the same resort. Third-place winners won a full grooming service for the dog at Klempo grooming service in Kastav near Rijeka, plus cocktails for the humans at Padova resort. There was also a prize for the last-place finisher, an Adriatic version of a red lantern: the slowest dog+owner pair to finish the race got a brunch for two and their dog at Gastro Restaurant Karoca in Crikvenica.

Fastest doggy ice cream eater, who has not been publicly acknowledged yet, was awarded two ice cream cups at the Toš Kavana in Crikvenica, and a bag of doggy food, given by the Vet Centre Crikvenica. Fastest doggy wine drinker, also not yet made public, won free cocktails for their owner at the Three Monkeys Cocktail Bar in Rijeka.

After the races the fun continued, as there was barbeque, cocktails, and lots of dogs and dog-friendly people around them on the amazing Crikvenica beach! 


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.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Uhljebistan: Communal Officer Tries to Charge Woman for Lost Pet Signs

Have you ever wondered what Uhljebistan means? We use the word a lot here at TCN and often are quick to forget that not everyone will be aquainted with it (lucky them). In brief, the word encompasses uhljebs - those individuals typically working in Croatia's numerous state bodies who want nothing more than to make your life needlessly complicated, for no gain, and then hopefully charge you a few kuna along the way.

If you'd like to take a more in depth journey into the world of Uhljebistan, click here and get to know some of the apparently unstoppable yet totally useless, self-important and self-serving cogs of the Croatian state.

You'd think that in this day and age, where people often love animals more than they do other people, placing a few signs on the street letting the world know you've lost your beloved pet and would like to find them, would be no problem at all. In fact, you'd think it would be encouraged. Apparently not, at least not in Osijek.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of November, 2018, after her seven-year-old Siamese cat disappeared, one Osijek resident decided to place some signs in her neighbourhood letting others know about the cat's disappearance, and offering a reward for anyone who finds the cat. Soon after, the woman's mother, whose phone number was placed as a contact number on the sign, received an unexpected call. Instead of it being someone with news of the cat's whereabouts on the other end of the line, it was a communal officer, writes Glas Slavonije.

"He told her [her mother] that we had two hours come and remove all the signs, because we'd otherwise have to pay 1,000 kuna for each sign. I have to admit that we'd put many signs up, and we mostly put them on bus stops, that is, at higher levels, on poles, etc. I saw a lot of ads put up in such places, so I didn't think that I wouldn't be permitted to put a poster up about my missing cat. As soon as we were cautioned, we went and removed all of them,'' said the woman, whose publication on Facebook has been shared a lot, namely by other rightly irritated animal lovers.

So, if you've lost your cat, make sure you're willing to pay a ridiculous amount of money to put up an innocent sign asking your fellow local residents for help, because God forbid someone goes without making money from your problems.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more.

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.

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