celebrating the street dogs of the Balkans

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Macedonia

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I’ve recently returned from spending nearly two weeks in Macedonia where I inevitably met a lot of wonderful dogs – some stray, some looked after, some a bit of both! Spending time observing the dogs, watching how people are around them and talking to the locals, I feel like I’ve learnt a great deal about Balkan dogs.

Our first stop was in Skopje where I was amazed at how street savvy the dogs were. I saw dogs sitting at pedestrian crossings, looking both ways at the traffic and crossing when clear. Then we headed down to Ohrid where there was a much smaller community of dogs – it was the same faces you would see in the different parts of towns and the locals seem to have a good relationship them. Shopkeepers would throw scraps and there was the odd affectionate rub from passers-by. Heading over to Prespa, as the landscape got a bit more rural, the dogs seemed a bit wilder. Driving through one village, a dog stood in the middle of road and would not let us past, after a short while of trying to manoeuvre around it we managed to make a break and accelerate off, the dog however gave chase for a good 500 metres.

Over the couple of weeks spent in Macedonia we met an incredibly diverse range of dogs – from the majestic  Šarplaninac wandering up in the hills to the short legged mongrels waiting by the kebab shop in the centre of town, Macedonia truly is a land of amazing dogs!

My first experience of Balkan Dogs…

Croatia was one of the countries of the Balkans that I first fell in love with the dogs there, unfortunately I didn’t have a camera on me to capture the experiences I had then. My first visit to Croatia, was in 2005 when me and a friend hitchhiked from Budapest, down through Croatia, then onwards to Istanbul (as you do when you’re 19 and have no money…). We were sleeping in a park in Dubrovnik (on the advice of some locals that is was a fine thing to do), and was awoken in the middle of the night by a pack of stray dogs barking and growling. At first we scared as we imagined the dogs were angered by our presence on their territory, but we soon noticed that the dogs weren’t barking at us but at a man who had entered into the park. The stranger quickly ran off after being set on by the dogs, and the dogs then retreated back towards our camp and settled down a few metres away from us. I’m not sure if we were in any danger that night, but I felt we had these dogs looking out for us. We stayed a second night in the park and again the dogs returned at night, although this night there were no disturbances. This was my first encounter with Balkan dogs, and since then have been enchanted with them.

Ok, this may not be the Balkans but it’s still dogs!

On a recent trip to Normandy found this fellow under a car… it’s not the Balkans but I thought it definitely worthy of sharing!

Chienne D’Historie – Barking Dogs – a short animated film looking at stray dogs in Istanbul

Winner of the Palme d’Or as the best short film at Cannes – this film follows stray dogs in what was Constantinople and how they are dealt with by the authorities. Some political undertones of the film is apparent.

Greece’s Front Line Riot Dog

One committed protester was at the front line when Greek police fired teargas at protesters outside parliament on Wednesday.

The dog, thought to be a stray called Loukanikos, or Sausage, has been in the centre of the action for years.

Here are some of his most memorable moments, gathered by Newsnight.

 

 

Balkan Dogs

Welcome to Balkan Dogs, the official blog representing the stray dogs of Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia. I’ve tried to get a good representation of dogs across the Western Balkans, and it’s safe to say they are all the loveliest mongrelist mongrels there are.

Enjoy.