Opinion

Destination, Sarajevo III: Scooping Poop and Securing Paperwork and a Dog Passport

Jennifer Heebner and her new Sarajevo street dog

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. June 26, 2019. The next day, I got a late start and Milena was visibly displeased. (I work best with deadlines, and since one had not been established, I didn’t think there was a definitive start time.) Anyway, we got past that hiccup, though it did mean that I wouldn’t be able to meet the other dog I was considering for adoption. For space reasons, Ivo was located in a friend’s kennel that was some distance away. But after meeting Elsie and knowing how important it was to Milena that we take her, I had pretty much decided that Elsie was our new dog.

Saving Suffering Sarajevo Strays

So, we had to go to the pet store to buy her airline kennel. The biggest one lacked wheels so we went down a size and she fit fine. Success! Then we had to return to the kennels. I never scooped so much poop in my life! Hopefully that made up for oversleeping that morning. I shoveled three mighty bags of poop while Milena fed the dogs. Then it started to rain. No problem—I keep working. Then thunder with a touch of lightning arrives. I keep working, it’s a brief storm, I tell myself. Then Hershey’s Kisses-size hail starts falling. This volunteer vacation is turning into a dark comedy. “Oh, Lord,” I mutter, “please just let the hail stop.” Within a second it does. Not kidding. It was kind of amazing.

Elsa's airline kennel for flight

Elsa’s airline kennel for flight

Then Milena and I both finished our chores and headed back to the car—which had a flat tire. Really? Yes, a flat. Thank God the employee of an adjacent kennel was present; normally, no one else is out there in the middle of the forest. And it was a Sunday in Sarajevo—ain’t no AAA or Just Tires open for service. A young man named Roky fixed the flat, which was caused, ironically, by a rock. Amazingly, we made it back to Sarajevo without incident.

We got a flat at the kennels! Thank heavens Roky was there to help.

We got a flat at the kennels! Thank heavens Roky was there to help.

The next day we secured Elsie’s flight documents and dog passport and got a document of permission from the local government to let me adopt her. It was finalized! On paper, I was her new owner. In real life, it will take some time for her to recognize me as her new mum. She knows Milena took her in—Elsie doesn’t let Milena out of her sight! And Elsie likes to plant her tush on the ground in defiance when I want to continue walking away from Milena. Yeah, as loving as she is, this will be a process with her. And for Milena.

Saving Suffering Sarajevo Strays helps street dogs

Every time we talk about me adopting her, Milena tears up. She really loves this dog. Milena also knows that the dog has no life here in her flat, and that Jeff and I will put her at the center of our human-child-free world. Now I just have to get Elsie on the plane—three planes, actually. We must take two flights to reach Frankfurt, from where our plane to the U.S. departs. We also can’t make all of our connections in one day, so Elsie and I are staying overnight in an airport hotel in Germany. Fingers crossed she’s a willing participant in this big international adventure.

The author and her giant new baby

The author and her giant new baby

Stop back tomorrow for Part IV.


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Destination, Sarajevo IV: Goodbye to Sarajevo, a Sleepover in Germany, and Touching Down in the States

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