Estonians erect a statue and give home to beloved stray dog

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) – Zorik was never the wagging or hand-licking type. But that didn’t stop the free-spirited tramp dog from winning many hearts.

When the black and white mutt, long-established in a Tallinn neighborhood, was brought from the Estonian capital to the countryside earlier this year to spend his days in the safe and restful environment of a family’s backyard, he missed so much. much that the residents have immortalized him with a statue.

“People have donated for the monument. They wanted it and they are still following his fate, even though he’s old and fragile, ”said Heiki Valner, an animal rescue volunteer who came up with the idea of ​​Zorik’s statue and organized the fundraiser.

Donations were collected and a local artist was commissioned to create Zorik’s likeness, with his erect ears and shaggy hair around his muzzle, along with a cat snuggled up against him.

The statue, which now stands in front of a shopping center, is intended as a tribute to Zorik and his animal companions as well as to all stray animals. Zorik once had a canine companion who died in a car accident. He then got involved with stray cats and was often seen with them, even while sleeping.

Residents say that Zorik first appeared as a pup in a coal storehouse in a nearby harbor about 12 years ago, and has since been a fixture in Kalamaja, a working-class neighborhood that is turning into a magnet for hipsters.

In a society where the divide between ethnic Estonians and ethnic Russians is acutely felt, Zorik managed to bridge the gap by winning over Russian-speaking old women who fed him, as well as Estonian hipsters, including a group that now opens a cafe with the name ‘Zorik. ”

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

He was so loved that the locals sometimes fed him the best cuts of beef. But no one could ever catch and tame him.

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

Viktoria Ger, who has given Zorik a new home, in a fence with a doghouse behind her own parental home, describes him as a “peculiar dog”.

“He doesn’t want to be close to people, so he doesn’t like to be petted,” she said. Zorik sat nearby and shivered as a light layer of snow covered the ground and pine trees in the yard.

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

Valner said Zorik should eventually be expelled from the city for his own safety.

“In the end he was so senile that he just fell asleep on the tracks or tram rails or just here on the road so cars had to drive around him,” said Valner, pointing to the area in Kalamaja that was home for a long time. to the dog. “We got several calls a day while he was on the road, so we ended up having to get him off the street in his own interest.”

At first he tried to escape and return to his old roaming territory, but now his weakness has finally overtaken his free spirit.

Unsurprisingly, over the years there were also people who did not want the dog.

“This was a match of right and wrong,” said Valner. “There were those who demanded that he be captured and eliminated and others who protected and fed him. This time, kindness has won. “


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