Croatian Pet of the Month: Mona

Total Croatia News

Mona working in a retirement home
Photo by Zvonimir Kranjčec

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.

Those duties include, but are not limited to: being petted on the head and on her gorgeous, lean body, giving the paw, giving kisses when appropriate, looking at people with those lovely eyes and slanted head and getting a lot of treats. By now you’re probably wondering, hey, why is that an important set of duties, just about every single pet dog in the world does that all day every day, what’s wrong with you! Well, Mona does that in a retirement home, working with patients that are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Mona working in a retirement home
Mona working in a retirement home, photo from website

Her owner, Snježana Belančić has come up with the program to include dogs into therapy for those patients, her association Plava šapa has found partners in the Sveti Josip retirement home in Zagreb, and for several years now, almost every week, Mona goes to the retirement home and works her charm to get the patients to interact with her. And charm is something that she really brings quite a lot of to any room, this almost 10-year-old mix between a beagle and a Posavac hound (more about that indigenous breed of dog). The people working in the home, providing day-care to the patients, say that the progress seen in the patients is remarkable, as they seem to want to communicate with Mona more than they do with humans (understandable, if you ask me; dogs don’t judge, don’t ask for anything you’re not ready to give). So Mona listens to them talk to her, she is ready for any type of physical contact (which helps those patients with motoric impairments), she is a calm presence that relaxes those need relaxing. She is a very cool and patient dog on her own, but she has been trained to not be afraid of wheelchairs, walkers, sudden movements or anything else that might happen in a home of that kind, and then she is just – herself. And sometimes, when you’re such a charming and friendly pup as Mona is, that is just enough.

Mona with a bed-ridden patient
Mona with a bed-ridden patient, photo from website

Plava šapa association has other volunteers also working in the program, including Mona’s best friend and roommate Hali (still an apprentice, though, not an experienced veteran like Mona), and they have had a chance to show their expertise in other places, such as other retirement homes in Croatia where they’ve already been guest stars. Mona and Hali like to hang out with kids sometimes as well, but that’s a whole different story. And, also, those kids, they just get so overwhelming and one gets soooo tired…

Mona with the kids
Mona working hard with the kids, photo from website


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