To write about Gaja was one of the hardest things I was asked to do in my life. I didn’t think it would be, and yet every time I sat down and tried, the words would come out. I had to wait, although with little idea as to how long I would need not to shed a tear while writing. But not only for Gaja, but simply because a loss of any furry soul reminds us just how short a dog’s life is and how little time we have with our pooches.


Then I tried to remember all the nice things Gaja had lived through, how loved and adored she was. And my heart became a bit lighter.


I’ve known Gaja and Dunja for a long time. Actually Gaja was still a youngster when I met her. I still remember her wagging tail when she proudly performed obedience exercises and easily passed her exam. Hmm, she was a lot calmer than her carer Dunja and she charmed even a very strict judge.


One day, at the time under another society, I was asked to interview Dunja. I wanted this not to be an ordinary interview but to see how they live and how they experience their volunteering mission. I’ll never forget how then and always when she came for a visit I was impressed by Dunja’s care for Gaja. How she used to take her for her favourite walks (oh yes, even to the bar Kokoloko where Gaja always got a cookie or two), how she cleaned her paws after each walk, cooked her meals often several times a day and not just any food (I dare say better than that for herself or her family), how she provided her with best veterinary care, and the variety of collars and leashes she had, how gently she groomed her and how nicely they played and talked to each other. Yes, they talked. I was convinced Gaja understood her and vice versa. And not only Dunja, the entire family revolved around Gaja’s schedule. She was the apple of their eye, the centre of their lives. She went everywhere with them, and she preferred their cabin in Gozd Martuljek.


But don’t think that Gaja was only a peaceful, cuddly dog. She was also a real cheeky girl, notorious for her hole-digging passion. And cats- she loved chasing them. When she smelled a cat, she became a whole different personality- not in a bad way, you just couldn’t believe it if you didn’t see it. But most of all she resented flies. They really got on her nerves.


Everybody who met Gaja fell in love with her and liked her, especially kids. In countless visits in various institutions she shared priceless moments with so many people. She was a legend, a pioneer of our work. With her warmth, kindness, gentleness, incredible sense for distress in other people, with playfulness and curiosity she managed to chase away bad mood, sadness and fears, she brought joy to the young and old and together with her carer Dunja they were priceless teachers for life. Not only to children they visited, but also the parents, the employees and last but not least, their friends. Gaja was the one who enabled beautiful and eternal friendships.


Beloved Gaja left to the stars. I believe that somewhere over the rainbow she is playing with all our dearest pooches that have sadly left us, that she’s loving it and that she is in no pain, and yet it is hard to face the loss and void left behind her and it will be difficult to fill it. But I’m sure Gaja would have wanted a successor that would keep her Dunja and her family happy and perhaps one day continue with her legacy.


Dear Gaja, we all miss you. You shall live forever in our memory!


Valentina Horvat Kokalj


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