Stray dog who roamed neighborhood for 12 years honored with statue

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Whether or not all dogs go to heaven, one very good boy is being immortalized for posterity here on Earth with a statue in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn.

The black-and-white stray dog, who locals called Zorik, was a resident of the Kalamaja neighborhood for 12 years, since he was a pup, before being taken in by good Samaritans to spend his last days in shelter and comfort.

But the community has missed his presence so dearly that they launched a fund-raiser to have a statue of Zorik, created by a local artists, erected in a nearby public area for all to honor and remember him. The sculpture depicts the good-natured pooch sitting upright with a cat nestled below his chest. It was said that the faithful Zorik had often traipsed through Tallinn with other strays, including cats.

“People donated for the monument,” said Heiki Valner, an animal rescuer and leader of Zorik’s statue campaign. “They still follow his fate even though he is already old and frail,” she told AP.

The neighborhood is home to both Estonian and Russian-speakers, who found common ground in their appreciation for the dog, according to Valner, calling Zorik a “point of integration” for the burgeoning community. A newly opened cafe even took on the dog’s name as tribute.

Many residents in the past had tried homing the “free spirit,” as Valner called him, but he refused to stay put. As old age set in, concerns for his health and safety prompted animal rescuers to again find shelter for Zorik.

“In the end, he was so senile that he would just fall asleep on the railway or tram tracks or just here on the road, so that cars had to drive around him,” Valner said.

Viktoria Ger, Zorik’s final caretaker, called him a “peculiar dog” who “doesn’t trust people,” which she said was a result of a lifetime of hard living and abuse by some heartless humans. Not everyone treated him with dignity, according to Valner, who called his story “a contest of good and evil.”

In Zorik’s case, “kindness won,” she said.

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