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!