Kristina Masalova & Eugene Petrus are Global Heroes for Pet Lovers #AtoZChallenge - Godyears

Kristina Masalova & Eugene Petrus are Global Heroes for Pet Lovers #AtoZChallenge

April 12, 2018

This story begins on a dark night at Fort Kochi. A favourite tourist spot for foreigners and locals alike in Kerala (South India), a young Ukranian couple - Kristina Masalova and Eugene Petrus - are on holiday when they hear a pitiful yelp as they are walking back after dinner. On seeking out the cause of the cry, they come across a tiny puppy, dehydrated and starved, struggling on the beach.

They could have left the pup alone and walked away. Perhaps even fed it a few scraps and done their good deed for the day before moving on. They could have chosen a dozen paths that millions of us choose when we come across stray animals. The path they chose was one of a rare form of kindness; one filled with dogged determination (pun intended!) to take on all odds. It ended up making this beautiful unobtrusive family global icons and loved worldwide. Oh, and by family, I mean ALL THREE of them now, including the pup, Chapati (named because he was as thin as a chapati when they first found him!)

I will let Kristina Masalova take over from here.

When a Ukrainian couple on holiday in India came across a starving puppy in a beach in Kochi one night, their actions set off a series of events that made the young couple global icons. Realizing the pup would not survive if left alone, the two adopted the pup and nursed it back to health. Unwilling to leave Chapati to its fate, Kristina Masalova and Eugene Petrus extended their stay in India to get all the paperwork done for exporting the pup.  In the year since, the trio have visited 14 countries together and are one of the most beloved global advocates for pet adoption in addition to helping thousands with advice for traveling with pets.


Kristina, I love hearing the story of Chapati. I know the journey begins with two young hearts wanting a break from work in Ukraine and then buying the cheapest tickets to India. Could you tell everyone what happened next?


Our journey started from Fort Kochi. We planned to stay there for 2 days, but on our last night, the plan started to change. We had a dinner in one of the restaurants and had been walking towards the hotel. Suddenly, in a darkness, we heard a lonely puppy crying out for help. As we examined it we noticed a few major issues like dehydration and overheating, her condition was really bad. She was less than a month, alone, with no chances to survive on her own. So, actually, it wasn’t a “love at the first sight” – it was about saving her life, giving her a second chance.

That’s why we took her with us for emergency procedures. On the next day, when overheating and dehydration was already gone, we started to fight all other problems she had: tons of fleas and ticks, parasites, healing her arched leg and giving vitamins for her weak bones.


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Only in five days, after all of her numerous problems were solved, we understood that all of us are attached to each other and that we are not ready to search for her new home. So we started to google the subject and believe that it will be possible to take her with us on all the future travels. Then we spent nearly two months in India in order to prepare all required documents for the export.

Let’s be honest, all of that wasn’t our initial plan. And it wasn’t in our budget. Moreover, it was nearly impossible to find the information on traveling with pets in Asia. So we had hard times, but love, fidelity, and confidence helped us to overcome all problems.

I can't imagine it was easy traveling with a dog. For fellow dog-lovers here, could you give us a few tips on traveling with a pet in India?

Our main tip on traveling in India: hide your dog :)
Of course, it’s a joke, but many times when Chapati was a tiny pup this strategy saved our time and money. Yet, this is definitely not a good advice for dogs more than a palm-size. I’m not sure that now we could travel through India as easy as it was one year ago: Chapati now weighs 20 kg, she is tall and while barking she may sound really threatening. Still, I’m sure that it would be possible.



On our travels, the Internet was always our best helper: before going to any place we made a search. When we had more time, we preferred to communicate offline: many hotels, which were not officially tagged as “pet-friendly”, were opened for us after a brief chat with an owner and manager. Cause when people see that you come with respect and liability, they can always make some changes in their regular rules.

Are there any places which you would recommend based on Chapati's experiences?

Unfortunately, there is a huge difference between Asia and Europe, especially western Europe. Countries like Italy are so dog-friendly that it’s even impossible to put them in one comparison with cities and places in Asia. So, in Europe, it’s easier to recommend the whole country and it means that it is friendly to dogs in all aspects. In our case, Italy was the number one. But I am sure that Germany would be the same.
Our homeland, Ukraine, makes us quite sad now. Only its capital, Kyiv, has a bearable range of places, which allow dogs. Still, I can’t call my homeland dog-friendly, as well as can’t say that many of my countrymen are mindful and kind to animals.
In India, we found many people, who were ready to help and were open to a couple of tourists with a small puppy. But I pray each day for Indians to be so open to all local dogs and that all desi strays would have their loving families (or at least – better life conditions). I do believe that someday this could happen.
Speaking about our touristic experience, places, which were the friendliest to Chapati, are Varkala and Agonda Beach in Goa. We also had a great time in McLeod Ganj and Manali, yet it was more difficult to find a place to sleep there.
On the other hand, in Delhi and Mumbai, it was really difficult to find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and options for activities, but we found really qualified veterinarians and could do some good shopping for Chapati. So, probably every place has its own pros and cons. And the biggest advantage of Asia is that all beaches are open for dogs, which made Chapati so happy.

I am personally jealous because I know Chapati has seen more countries than me. 

For now, Chapati has already visited 14 countries in Asia and Europe. She has been to India, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Vatican, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, and Belarus. During this time, we visited nearly 60 different cities and overall travelled more than 40,000 km by land, air, and water.

When a Ukrainian couple on holiday in India came across a starving puppy in a beach in Kochi one night, their actions set off a series of events that made the young couple global icons. Realizing the pup would not survive if left alone, the two adopted the pup and nursed it back to health. Unwilling to leave Chapati to its fate, Kristina Masalova and Eugene Petrus extended their stay in India to get all the paperwork done for exporting the pup.  In the year since, the trio have visited 14 countries together and are one of the most beloved global advocates for pet adoption in addition to helping thousands with advice for traveling with pets.

Chapati has been on every mode of transportation available - buses, trains, planes, cars, rickshaws, ferries, catamarans, even a motorbike.


Chapati is always happy with us, wherever we go. But we think that most of all she enjoys the time, we spend now in Kyiv, Ukraine. We are living in the apartment of my parents and Chapati has a company of their beagle, Misha. These girls love each other and play all the time. Unfortunately, now we are in a lack of money for a wide scale journey, but we will definitely travel through Ukraine and probably even visit few nearby European countries.

I have been having dogs at my house for over 30 years now and it has taken me most of those 3 decades to teach any of them to fetch or sit, with them always deciding they are the boss of me. How obedient/disobedient is Chapati in comparison?

My experience of living with dogs also counts nearly 30 years, in other words – my whole life. What I can say about Chapati in comparison to other dogs is that I’ve never seen such an intelligent one. In a wink, she learned all commands we tried to teach her. And I’m always asking myself how trained could she be if we exercised more. Yes, sometimes she is a bit willful. She is ravenous for her food and can roar if she doesn’t like something. Yet, it never made us love her less. She is an individual, a very smart one. We are sure that all her small flaws are caused by her difficult childhood and traumas she possibly had. So we never feel aggrieved and always find options to calm her down. She is bright-minded and she loves us, so there are no inextricable situations.

We are big fans of positive training: we never shout, or beat, or punish. We try to train her and solve small problems only with love, treats and eye-to-eye contact. It works perfectly with Chapati. And we are sure that she is thankful for that. Overall I would say that 95% of the time she is absolutely obedient. Probably, if that was 100% it would be boring ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

The kind gesture that you two showed to a tiny puppy that day in Kochi today inspires people from all across the world. Were the two of you surprised when your story started becoming famous on social media?

Somewhere deep in my heart, I dreamed that Chapati’s story could make some small difference in this world. And that was actually the reason why we started her Instagram account - Traveling Chapati. But, yes, we were absolutely surprised that it made such a huge resonance in a short period of time. Moreover, we were shocked that it brought some fame to us, Chapati’s parents. I know that HER story is unique, but when people call me and my husband heroes I feel shy.

When a Ukrainian couple on holiday in India came across a starving puppy in a beach in Kochi one night, their actions set off a series of events that made the young couple global icons. Realizing the pup would not survive if left alone, the two adopted the pup and nursed it back to health. Unwilling to leave Chapati to its fate, Kristina Masalova and Eugene Petrus extended their stay in India to get all the paperwork done for exporting the pup.  In the year since, the trio have visited 14 countries together and are one of the most beloved global advocates for pet adoption in addition to helping thousands with advice for traveling with pets.


I always think that we could do more. And I hope that we will. Saving Chapati’s life wasn’t hard for us. All we had to do is to have a faith, control our budget and spend few months surviving all paperwork. It’s not that much. Though, I believe that the prominence of this story raised only due to the charisma of Chapati. And as well it could arise with many other Indian pariahs, cause now I’m sure that this breed is one of the best in the world!


When a Ukrainian couple on holiday in India came across a starving puppy in a beach in Kochi one night, their actions set off a series of events that made the young couple global icons. Realizing the pup would not survive if left alone, the two adopted the pup and nursed it back to health. Unwilling to leave Chapati to its fate, Kristina Masalova and Eugene Petrus extended their stay in India to get all the paperwork done for exporting the pup.  In the year since, the trio have visited 14 countries together and are one of the most beloved global advocates for pet adoption in addition to helping thousands with advice for traveling with pets.


Final Thoughts:


You can follow Traveling Chapati on Facebook as well as Instagram

Author's note:

This is part of my #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion.
The list for this year's (2018) Heroes of Kindness can be found here.
Of course, I have been tracking these lovely human beings for years now and have found children as young as six years old and old women in their eighties from across the world who will restore your faith in humanity. You can find the entire list of Real-life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion here.

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21 comments

  1. Wow!! These two are such inspirations Doc! Who would spend time and money on adopting a local dog found in a foreign land and then go through all that hassle? ! Lot of respect to these peeps and an amazing story to read once more today morning!!
    K is for Artemis Fowl #atozchallenge

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  2. What a fabulous post. I love Chapati and am honestly thrilled with the turn of events that led to him being adopted.

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  3. If there’s space in your heart, anything is possible.

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  4. I am speechless! HATS OFF to Kristina and Eugene for not only saving the little Chapati but for giving her so much love. Such large hearted folks.
    God, she has traveled more than me!! :D

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  5. Yes! Finally, one story which I've heard. I adore Chapati and Muffy follows him on Instagram. It's such a wonderful thing that the couple did for a "stray" pup. Look at him! He is seeing the world now! From rags to riches, I would say. Absolutely adorable <3
    Kohl Eyed Me
    Something's Cooking

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  6. Yay.tats my favourite NRI doggy๐Ÿ˜.As they say a mallu is there in every part of the world๐Ÿ˜€..
    I was following this pariah since 1year after my friend said.And i have to admit she is blessed to have such amazing parents who took her to a vet,revived her to her present form and got her passport ready.Im so jealous cause she visited more places than me๐Ÿ˜’.She is the most luckiest dog in the world..A true rags to riches story.๐Ÿ˜Ž

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  7. Wow!!! Where most of us here would ignore a starving dog, here are tourists who not only helped and too care, but have adopted it into their lives..!!!

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  8. These people are real heroes. I am also jealous of Chapati, she has see more than me. For me even taking my doc to the vet is often an ordeal as most taxi drivers and auto drivers refuse. And these people have travelled with her to so many places.

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  9. What a lovely, lovely story! If we but open our hearts to caring for every being on the planet, utopia can surely be achieved. Loved the unique name Chapati for a dog. On a selfish note- I'm damn envious of Chapati, he's been to more countries in one year than I've been in my lifetime ๐Ÿ™ˆ

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  10. I had read about Chapati in the newspaper once, now I know the story behind her name and the happy life that she so deserves!

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  11. Wow!First of all, I'm jealous of chapati too since she has already travelled over 14 countries while I'm having a tough time leaving my city! This is such a touching story and an example to everyone that 'kindness' has no limits!

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  12. Hats off to the couple. Caring for & treating an injured dog is one thing.. but adopting is such a noble deed. God bless them.

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  13. How sweet! Not many will think this way especially when they are in a foreign land. Good job.

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  14. Wow! I have high respect for animal lovers. It really takes a large heart to go beyond ones comfort zone to be able to help these speechless creatures

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  15. Feels great to begin the day reading such a positive note... kudos to d couple and hello to chapati.... ☺

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  16. Dog lovers are already the best kind of humans. I recently read a out chapati on BuzzFeedIndia. Fabtastic interview.
    Such kindness needs to be saluted.

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  17. Having a beautiful heart can make you do things you never thought you can! Love the name Chapati :)

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  18. This is an inspiring story. Animal lovers are less in the world but with such a heart with kindness nothing can be small.

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  19. The name chapati is so cool. Love to see such animal love and kindness

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