She spent her first eleven months confined to a balcony in Virovitica, a northern Croatian town near the Hungarian border. As the months wore on, her condition deteriorated. She was in such a bad state that a local animal welfare group, backed by the police, intervened to remove her from her owner, who had not given her even the most basic care.
That was Nola's first stroke of luck. The second followed a short time later, when Željko from Vrisnik on Hvar visited his son in Virovitica, who had taken an active part in Nola's rescue. Željko quickly took the decision to give Nola a permanent home. She was still very thin, but was receiving all the necessary veterinary care. As soon as she was strong enough, she was microhipped, vaccinated and then sterilized.
She took to her new home on Hvar immediately, enjoying the freedom to play with other dogs, and also cats when possible. She particularly loved being able to finish off the food when Željko's cats left her any. And as for her daily long runs and swims along the deserted coastline, she definitely knew she had come to the right place, something beautifully close to an earthly paradise. Well, a lot of people feel that way about Hvar.
Meeting her in Jelsa just a month after her arrival on Hvar, some two months after her rescue, it was obvious that Nola bears no grudges, despite the sufferings of her earlier months. She has a gentle, loving temperament, and makes friends with everyone she meets. 'Professor' Frank John Duboković was so bowled over by this wondrously lovely creature that he forgot he was late for lunch and settled in to enjoying her company.
Nola is far from passive and cowed, yet at the same time very obedient and docile. She would love to climb on to any willing lap, but does not take umbrage when it's not allowed. Although still a little thin, she is rather big for that kind of display of affection. She takes a keen interest in her environment, watching out for any possible sources of fun, such as passing canine friends and potential friends of all kinds. Yet she pays due attention to her new owner when called to order.
It is not difficult to understand why she is so obedient. Željko is taking great trouble to train her to understand and enact commands, so that she does not make trouble for other people or animals, and indeed does not bring trouble on herself. Whereas before she was undoubtedly controlled with a degree of violence - a rolled up newspaper causes instant submission - now she is being trained through the humane and effective method of rewards. If ever a dog repaid her rescuers in spades, it is Nola. All credit to the kind people in Virovitica who rescued her, and to Željko for providing her with an excellent home where she wants for nothing. It's good to know that Hvar's earthly paradise can also be shared by canine friends.
© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) 2017