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Dubrovnik's Explosive New Year: A Pledge to Peaceful Celebrations After Canine Distress Canva

Dubrovnik's Explosive New Year: A Pledge to Peaceful Celebrations After Canine Distress

Written by  Jan 14, 2024

“Thank f*** that’s over,” was the look in the eye of our dogs as the last of the festive explosions echoed in the winter sky. It was amore of a look of fear than relief. I once read that a dog’s hearing is 100 times stronger than humans, if that is anywhere near true then they have been living through hell for the last seven days.

“This is absolutely the last New Year we are spending in Dubrovnik!” I said to my wife as another eruption thundered.

I wasn’t joking.

I made a promise to myself and more importantly my dogs that we will find a more tranquil setting, maybe high in the Dolomites, for next year.

Elton John, Taylor Swift and The Rolling Stones could all be singing on the Stradun, but I will not be here. And if you saw my dogs over the festive season, the sheer and utter look of distress and pain in their eyes as they shook like a washing machine on spin cycle with every bang, if you had seen that then you would understand my decision.

This year is already planned and until the ban on firecrackers and other explosive devices is enforced I won’t be counting down to the New Year here.

It is a law like so many others, a law in principle that sits forgotten on a piece of paper and clearly not a law in practice. “As of today until January 1st, the official use of pyrotechnics is allowed – except for firecrackers, which are completely prohibited throughout the entire year,” wrote the headline on the 27th of December. Apparently the fine is up to 1,990 euro, although it might as well be 100 million euro as it simply isn’t enforced.

And let’s be honest it isn’t really the most challenging law to enforce. Even the most incompetent police officer can follow his ears! But no, sadly no.

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Photo - DZF

I can’t empathise enough just how loud and how constant the bombardment was. And then I started getting messages from friends and family “War in Zagreb,” and “My windows are shaking,” and “When will this end!!” I am not trying to be Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge, everything else about the festive season here is enchanting. But it is like having the tastiest and most delicious cake in the world and then spreading mustard on top of it. Would you eat it? I wouldn’t.

And until the mustard from New Year’s in Dubrovnik is removed I will be eating my cake somewhere else.

And I have nothing against the organised fireworks display on Stradun, far from it, it looked spectacular. Although I only saw it in photos as we spent the New Year with doors and windows and curtains all closed and the radio on full blast in an attempt to drown out the firecrackers. By all accounts the “electronic display” in Split was a disaster, although hats off to them for at least trying something new.

“They must have more money than sense,” I said to my wife in another crescendo. Let’s just say her language wasn’t really for a public forum. But it went along the lines of certain things not going well together like alcohol and drivers, electricity and water, coffee and white clothes and finally morons and firecrackers.

Dogs thrive in environments that are predictable (fireworks are anything but), and when something is new or strange they don't always have the skills needed to cope. I even heard of people giving their pets mild sedatives to try and ease their anxiety. Although I am not a great fan of having to drug your pet unless absolutely necessary.

So given the “fight or flight” option we’ve gone for the second option and decided to wave goodbye to the firecrackers and seek peace in a festive happy place far from the maddening crowds.

It was nice while it lasted but enough is enough!   

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to


About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik




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