Croatian Pet of the Month: Tesa

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

Tesa is a dog who loves to run. Tesa loves the woods. Tesa just loves to be out there, doing something, anything really all day every day, but when her owner is at work, that’s OK, she’ll just be sleeping all day, dreaming of running through the woods. 

She was adopted by her owner, Tomislav, in April 2016, after having been in a small shelter near Ivanić grad. Tomislav runs, a lot, we’ll get back to that, so he wanted to find a dog that would enjoy participating in all of his activities. He researched, and discovered that a border collie might be the best dog to join in on his adventures, so he waited to find a border collie-type dog in one of the Croatian shelters. He didn’t have to wait long, and Tesa came to live with him. First she was scared of everything. Very, very scared. She was very young, everything was new and scary, but, as it happens, that phase was over with soon enough. In June, just over a month in her new life, she already started basic socialisation and nice manners training in KOSSP (the biggest and the best known doggie school in Zagreb), and in the fall she was already in the woods with Tomislav.


Why is Tomislav so often in the woods, and running so much, you must be wondering? Well, that’s his thing. He does orienteering, he does various trek races, trail racing, adventure races, if it’s a race and it’s in the nature, you can count on him being there. And Tesa was supposed to be his racing partner.

Their first major race together was the so-called Blatersa race in late 2016 (the name of the race is a pun in Croatian, merging a word for mud with a word for running along a mountain), where the racers run along the entire length of the Medvednica mountain (50 km) sometime in late December, so, during the worst winter weather, during the night and with basically zero support (yes, it’s just as crazy as it sounds)! Tomislav and Tesa finished the race in just under 7 hours (and incredible achievement, if you ask me!) – and check out the official results of the race, Tesa is right in there!


When she runs with Tomislav, she runs a bit more than he does, usually, since she is, you know, a dog, so less focused and concentrated than him, easily distracted and doesn’t really read the map as well as he does. That is best illustrated with a Facebook post Tomislav put up last year, where they ran in a race in Istria together, and he attached a GPS tracker to himself and to Tesa, to be able to compare the routes they took. And yes, she wins, he ran for 28 kilometres, and she ran for over 40! But, she just likes it, and can’t wait to go out and run whenever that’s possible.


She did get some unfair advantage at the start of the race, to be fair, I mean, look at that, that’s gotta be at least 10 meters in front of everyone! 


So, they started doing agility training as well, although she’s still a novice in that discipline, sometimes they go to competitions in the junior category. I asked Tomislav what she prefered, running with him in the woods or the agility, and his response is “She loves everything, as long as something is going on, as long as we’re not at home”. 


So, she also enjoyed an obstacle race for dogs they went to recently in Hungary, Hard Dog Race, which look so, so cool and fun that you just need to see this video (Tesa right at the beginning, being hosed down): 



Tomislav sometimes goes to the craziest of races, like the recent 54 k Scenic Trail race with almost 4000 meters of altitude difference  or the 270 km, 32 hours hARz Adventure Race  without her, and she then just waits for him to come back, so they can go to the woods together.

If you’d like to meet Tesa and Tomislav, the word is that they will be participating in the Medvednica Outdoor Festival in September. Consider participating in that event if you’d also like to get involved in the community of people running around in forests in Croatia, and you’ll certainly be seeing Tesa all the time!



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