That Friday, when Monika called me to say Bella has left among the angels, the sky suddenly darkened, even though the sun had been shining before. I could not believe it. I keep believing our dogs are somehow eternal.


I still remember the day I met this hairy pooch. Together with her Monika she came to testing in Ajdovščina. A happy-go-lucky Labrador, who was eager to greet everyone and cuddled with anyone who’d pet her. Even today I can hear the thumping of her tail which she’d cheerfully wag about without realizing she’s banging against the furniture.


So, her journey in this wonderful mission began. She and Monika quickly became a therapy pair and performed volunteer work in Idrija for many years. What stayed in my memory the most was how they encouraged the children with special needs each week for their workout, and for their walks and for various activities that were otherwise so hard for them without Bella. In the Idrija Psychiatric Hospital, they carried out serious work of assistants to working therapists, while at the Home of the Elderly Idrija, the Marof unit, they delighted the elderly with special needs. Sometimes I think Monika would not even have to be with Bella in the institution, because Bella knew everything all by herself. I think she’d only have to instruct her to head to the Home of the Elderly and Bella would grab hold of the handle of the suitcase with all the accessories and she’s make her way round Idrija. She’d undoubtedly get a treat or a kiss somewhere along the way, for she was a real local celebrity!


Yet Bella was not merely a local star, but also a national one. She often appeared on TV and more than decently represented therapy dogs, or even the entire dog community, on the broadcasts of national TV. And when that happened, the rating of the program was undoubtedly the highest.


Bella was a real zen, the meaning of life. Laid back, a gentle giant, good-natured, and really, always smiling. She had also a real wanderlust and she enjoyed long daily walks along the surrounding forest paths with her Monika and ‘sister’ Ruby. And even more than walks she preferred to swim and pull some branches, sticks, and logs from the water. A true Labrador. They are said to be gourmands, vagabonds and swimmers. And indeed, a gourmand she was; Monika would only prepare the best of treats for her. And after all, she was a true hedonist, who loved to lie around on her ergonomic bed, sunbathe in front of the house and play with her furry friends in the dog park.


Monika offered Bella a life only a few pooches get to enjoy. She always put her first. Bella was almost all her world and vice versa. Bella offered countless precious moments to Monika and to everyone who met her. She was one of the rare therapy dogs for whom I would bet my word that after testing, she could begin to work independently in any institution, for she was able to detect precisely what a person needed at a given moment.


Bella is gone and she leaves behind a void that will never be filled, but there is star in the sky that looks after all of us; and Bella somewhere over the rainbow keeps her eye on all our deceased pooches, strolling with them through the flowering meadows and paddles in streams. She is in a good place now, without pain and suffering.


It’s incredibly hard to say goodbye to such a friend. You miss their wet nose, hot breath and heavy paws that wake you up in the morning, swinging of the tail, munching delicious sweeties, you miss walks with them and hanging out with friends.


These furry friends have only one mistake. Their life is always too short. But we all know that Bella’s life, albeit way too short, was joyous, happy and magnificent. Bella felt Monika’s unconditional love and will never forget her.


We all will never forget Bella and in our hearts, she’ll always remain the golden pooch.


Valentina Horvat Kokalj


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