Estonians erect statue and give home to beloved stray dog

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TALLINN, Estonia (AP) – Zorik was never the type to wag his tail or lick his hand. But that didn’t stop the free-spirited wandering dog from winning a lot of hearts.

When the black and white pooch, long present in a district of Tallinn, was taken from the Estonian capital to the countryside earlier this year to live out his days in the safe and relaxing environment of a family’s backyard , he was missed so many that residents immortalized him with a statue.

“People donated for the monument. They wanted him and they still follow his fate even though it is already old and fragile, ”said Heiki Valner, an animal rescue volunteer who came up with the idea for the Zorik statue and organized the fundraiser.

Donations were collected and a local artist was commissioned to create the likeness of Zorik, with his straight ears and shaggy hair around his muzzle, with a cat snuggled against him.

The statue, now standing in front of a shopping mall, is intended as a tribute both to Zorik and his animal companions, and to all the wanderers. Zorik once had a dog companion who was killed in a car crash. He then approached stray cats and was seen with them often, even while sleeping.

Locals say Zorik first appeared as a puppy around 12 years ago in a coal storage area in a nearby port, and has been a staple in Kalamaja, a working-class neighborhood ever since. into a magnet for hipsters.

In a society where the divide between ethnic Estonians and ethnic Russians is deeply felt, Zorik has managed to bridge the divide, conquering the old Russian-speaking women who nurtured him, as well as Estonian hipsters, including a group that is now opening. a cafe called “Zorik.” ”

“Zorik was a dog that could go extinct, he was a dog that everyone in Kalamaja knew, he touched everyone – young and old, Estonians and Russians,” Valner said. “He was a point of social integration.”

He was so popular that the locals sometimes gave him the best cuts of beef. But no one could ever catch it and domesticate it.

“When people tried to regulate or restrict him, he just escaped,” Valner said. “He was just a free spirit.”

Viktoria Ger, who gave Zorik a new home, in a pen with a kennel behind his own family home, describes him as a “peculiar dog”.

“He doesn’t want to be around people, so he doesn’t like to be petted,” she says. Nearby, Zorik sat down and shivered as a light blanket of snow covered the ground and pine trees dotted the yard.

“He’s probably been hurt by people in his life, so he doesn’t trust people,” she says.

Valner said Zorik should ultimately be kicked out of town for his own safety.

“In the end, he was so senile that he would just fall asleep on the train tracks or the tram or right here on the road, so cars had to bypass him,” Valner said, pointing to the Kalamaja neighborhood. who had been at home for a long time. to the dog. “We got several calls a day when he was on the road, so we ended up having to pull him off the street for his own sake.

At first he tried to escape and return to his former wandering territory, but now his frailty has finally triumphed over his free spirit.

As to be expected, there were also those over the years who didn’t want the dog.

“It was a contest of good and bad,” said Valner. “There were those who demanded that he be captured and eliminated and others who protected and fed him. This time, kindness won.

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One Good Thing ”is a series that highlights people whose actions provide glimmers of joy in difficult times – stories of people who find a way to make a difference, however small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing

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