My Life in Osturňa

Through the eyes and ears of innocence


By Poochini

Copyright © 2023 Thom Kolton

About Me

About Me

My name is Poochini and I live with my best friend forever in the village of Osturňa, Slovakia. But there is a story of how I ended up here.

First, let’s be clear: I was born in Osturňa. I lived with my mom and siblings in a hovel up the road and further west. Not glamorous, but it was home.

One day, I suppose I must have been very bad (although I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong), because that morning the master of the house grabbed me and ripped me away from the only life I had known. He tore me from my mom and brothers and sisters and carried me far away. Finally, he quietly placed me in a space underneath a house and then walked away. He left me alone.

I was alone. I was afraid. I was hungry. I missed my mom and my siblings. I missed my home. I didn’t know where I was. Surely, I would never be able to find my way back home, I thought.

Although I tried to be quiet while I hoped the master would return for me, sometimes the fear would build up and cause me to explode with a loud cry, confirming my fear and desperation. I remained under the house hoping for my master’s return.

But then I heard the sound of another man walking nearby. Not knowing whether his intentions were to hurt or help, I retreated further under the house whenever he approached. But then he left and returned with some lovely bacon. As I was quite hungry, I cautiously took a piece, quickly retreating under the house to eat. And after perhaps 500 grams of bacon, I decided this man was not a threat.

I allowed him to pick me up. He didn’t seem aghast at the fleas that teemed in my fur. He simply carried me inside and gave me a bath. Miraculously, the fleas no longer bothered me. I actually felt good for the first time in my life.

The man called me “Puppy,” because I suppose I was one. I heard the man talking on the telephone about sending me to a shelter. But we never went.

One day as we played outside, the man was listening to arias on the stereo. He suddenly announced that my name was no longer “Puppy,” but “Poochini.” I liked it.

Over time, this man proved himself deserving of my trust and we grew close. This man, who I call “Boo”, is now truly my best friend, and I will do whatever is necessary to care for and protect him. I now recognize that he needed me all along.


I Saw a Bear On the Way to Łapszanka! - Sunday, June 4, 2023

I Saw a Bear On the Way to Łapszanka! - Sunday, June 4, 2023

As soon as he saw us round the bend, the bear looked at us with great surprise

Tatra bear While Boo was once again away having fun at the špital for nearly two weeks, I had an amazing time. Every morning, Štefania would visit and give me breakfast. Then we walked together to her house where my best friend, Brok, also lives. Then, it was play-time! Brok and I played together for hours, resting only when neither of us could continue. Exhausted at the end of the day, Štefania would bring me home, prepare dinner, and then say goodnight. Unfortunately, I had to sleep alone, which I didn’t like (I missed Boo).

Boo came home and I was very happy. But the next day, my back began to hurt. I didn’t know whether it was from all the horseplay we did (can dogs horseplay?), but my back really hurt. In the morning, Boo decided to take me to the doctor's office. The usual vet didn’t open until 10:00 a.m., and Boo found another that opened at 8:00 a.m. So, he decided to drive us there. Because the veterinarian was north in Poland, Boo took a shortcut over the hill and through the forest to Łapszanka.

The road to Łapszanka isn’t really a road. It is more of a path that was covered with asphalt less than ten years ago. There is a small section that is frightening. The path becomes very narrow, with steep drops and both sides and with only a flimsy wooden fence to give the appearance of safety. It was just before this section that we encountered the bear.

As we came around a curve and approached, the bear was standing next to the path. He was not on all fours, but on two back legs and somewhat upright, like a human. And he was beautiful. His body was covered in a luxurious brown fur, his head with grey-silver and brown coloring, and a large, long snout that protruded from his otherwise round head.

As soon as he saw us round the bend, the bear looked at us with great surprise. You could almost see the balloon thought over his head: YIKES!!! But he turned and quickly descended back into the forest and, within two seconds, was gone.

Seeing a bear was a truly unique experience for me. As it turns out, it was also a unique experience for Boo. Neither of us had ever seen a live bear in the forest before. And perhaps we never will again.


Busy Having Fun - May 6, 2023

Busy Having Fun - May 6, 2023

Sometimes I leave my house in the morning and don’t return until late afternoon

Me, Brok, and Jendruš I haven’t posted in a long time, but that doesn’t mean nothing is going on. Boo is helping to start a civic association with two others. He chose to act as secretary, which means he ends up doing most of the work. But he doesn’t seem to mind.

As for me, spring has arrived. The sun begins to reveal itself before 5 a.m. and lasts until the late evening. On some days, it feels like summer. Yesterday was 20 degrees in the shade. Where the sun shone, it was downright hot.

I’ve been spending some of my days in the forest with Brok and his dad, Jendruš. Brok and I play for hours. Sometimes I leave my house in the morning and don’t return until late afternoon. On those days, I don’t even both with dinner when I arrive home; I just jump onto the bed and sleep for a very long time. Boo used to get nervous during one of my long absences. But he is now used to the idea.

Boo and I haven’t visited the waterfall yet this year. But I’m sure that will happen shortly now that the days are warm. Boo doesn’t like the cold, the wuss.


Lambie Is Gone - Sunday, February 5, 2023

Lambie Is Gone - Sunday, February 5, 2023

She never cried out or reacted, so I guessed that she didn’t mind.

Poochi claims it was not his fault I don’t know. Maybe I played a little too roughly with her. But I never tried to hurt her on purpose.

Lambie has been my toy for the last few months. She was so soft and cuddly that I just had to sometimes bite down on her – repeatedly – while using my back paws to kick her.

It was all in good fun. She never cried out or reacted, so I guessed that she didn’t mind.

Lambie’s fur had opened up previously. Štefania would take her home and return her the next day as good as new. This last time, however, Štefania declined to repair her one last time. Afterall, she had just returned Lambie to me that morning.

With no new toy to play with, it looks like I will have to go back to chewing on the blanket and comforter. Boo hates that. But, hey!, a dog needs a friend to chew on once in a while.


Woo-hoo! We’re Home! - Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Woo-hoo! We’re Home! - Wednesday, November 9, 2022

My boo had come to take me home.

Me on the Bed When the nice lady attached my leash, I was certain we were going for a late afternoon walk. But when we got outside and I heard Boo’s voice “Poochini!” at the gate, I knew this would be better than just a walk. My boo had come to take me home.

Although I hate to ride in the car, this trip was different because I was back with my boo. I was happy. When we arrived home, Štefania and her son, Šteko, were waiting to greet us. As Boo exited the car, Šteko took Boo’s arm and accompanied him up the stairs and into the house. So it was obviously an important occasion.

Since we’ve been home, I have been catching up on my sleep. Boo, too. It’s so nice to be home again.


Boo in the Pital - October 23, 2022

Boo in the Pital - October 23, 2022

He said, “I’m going to the pital for a week or so.”

Boo in the Pital I haven’t posted anything lately, as the household schedule has been somewhat disrupted. Boo leaves me almost every morning to go to the doctor’s office. When he stays at home, we get visits from people I had not previously known, but now recognize as friends.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with Boo, but it seems his legs have been bothering him. He also doesn’t sleep well and sometimes yells out for no apparent reason. So maybe this is a good thing for him. I don’t really know.

On Friday, we drove in the car (I hate riding in the car!) for two hours straight before stopping at a house. We got out together and Boo had a bag of my stuff in it. He gave it to a nice lady, who took my leash and forced me to leave Boo. I looked into his eyes with many questions, mostly “why”? He said, “I’m going to the pital for a week or so.”

I don’t know where or what this place is, but Boo sent me a photo today. He doesn’t look like himself, does he?

I’m a little worried about being separated, but I hope it doesn’t last too long.


The Picnic - June 27, 2022

The Picnic - June 27, 2022

How can you have a picnic, let alone a feast, with only some white grapes?

Poochini with grapes

As we do most days, we visited the vodopád this afternoon. Boo usually brings along a bottle of water and a book. But today, he also brought along a plastic carton.

“What is the plastic carton for?” I asked.

“Why,” Boo answered, “it is full of white grapes! Look!”

He held out the carton for me to examine. The carton was full of greenish-white balls. I wasn’t certain I would like these grapes. I hadn’t tried them before, and they looked… odd. Still, I showed my interest and patiently waited for him to offer me one. Boo popped a grape into his mouth, then another. He then bit into one before offering it to me. I carefully took it in my mouth. It was kind of sweet.

“This is a lovely picnic, Poochi, and the grapes a perfect feast,” he said.

“But Boo,” I asked in earnest, “how can you have a picnic, let alone a feast, with only some white grapes?”

Boo smiled warmly at me.

“Poo, I feast on this wonderful moment we share.”

I think I understood.


The Death - June 3, 2022

The Death - June 3, 2022

The heart holds such great powers.

Poochini playing in the waters.

“Oh, no!” Boo sobbed.

I realized, as I played in the cold and clear shallow stream below the waterfall, Boo was not himself. He had closed the book he was reading and was now looking up at me. Tears filled his eyes and he made strange sounds as though he were hurt. Horrible sounds, really.

“Oh, Platero!” Boo sobbed aloud.

I could not comprehend what had caused Boo this sudden pain. It made no sense to me. Still, I tried my best to be compassionate. I slowly approached and stood close for a few moments to soothe his heart, if that was what was ailing him. I sniffed his hand, salty smelling but now devoid of any trace of nicotine. Then leaning against his knee, Boo stroked my head and gently squeezed my tummy.

Boo’s sobbing quickly subsided, and I was certain he was now all right. Apparently, my simple act of compassion had magically relieved his distress. The heart holds such great powers. Both my interest and legs then returned me to the riverbed to locate the stone which earlier had been the object of my play.

Boo again opened the book, read a short passage, and began to softly whimper, like I sometimes do when I am sad or frustrated. He closed the book once more and quietly sat there on the concrete ledge staring into the water and at the rocks and trees beyond, while I continued to explore and play.

We spent more time than usual near the waterfall that lovely early June day. It was just after noon and the sun was bright and warm, despite a large menacing cloud with a purplish-gray center that momentarily blocked the sun before quickly passing high above without incident.

Boo sometimes calls this place Schodná Voda, but more often he just tells me we are going to the vodopád. To me, I think of it as our little piece of heaven.