The Traveller

Dogged, that’s what she is

AND for once you’re talking about somebody else, somebody who has spent 14 years (pushing 15) in the service of sentient beings with four legs!

Yes, today The Traveller is not about four sleeps … (yikes, it’s that close!)

No. The focus is on Gerbien Fricke.

She’s top dog at .Gaga Animal Care, Skala Eressos, a seaside village on the Greek island of Lesbos.

You see, there’s more to island life than olives galore … and the Aegean contemplating a docile shore.


There she is, looking after 20 to 30 dogs and pups, at any time you may care to enquire.

She’s got a compassion you can’t ignore.

Imagine that. Dogs chucked in bags at Villa Gaga’s door; strays, you name it.

Seventy two of them find homes in Europe, and the United Kingdom, in a year.

The Atlas Animal Project pitches in too, transporting pooches here and there.

Volunteer vets and assistants round up cats and dogs and give them the snip.

It’s a mission; trapping and sterilising, nursing, releasing.

The chub-a-lub cats stalk scraps on the cafes boardwalk … then, one after the other, oh no, the tips of their ears are missing.

You imagine cat ear triangles curling, dry on the ends!

They’ve been lopped off to identify the doctored ones.

It’s a big job, this animal care of Gerbien’s.

Dog walking, dog feeding, dog grooming, horse grooming, horse feeding, cat feeding.

Vet visits, nursing sick animals, holding one as it sighs its last; a scratch behind the ears.

Sterilisation. Transport. All that food!

Ellen has spent some months helping her.

Now she is leaving.

Gerbien would like a volunteer assistant, two if possible.

They can live her house at Villa Gaga, mahalla, next to the Kouitou Art Hotel.

Gerbien’s not there for the summer. She’s moved into the veld, to Camp Gaga, and that cost a bomb too, all that fencing and stuff.

It costs to set up secure accommodation.

One of Gaga Animal Care’s supporters is the Skala Women’s Rock Group, a posse that swims each day at 10am to The Rock, from Zorba the Buddha (you make your hands into a little temple, the prayer position, and you don’t know where it comes from, but you say namaste and feel very pious. Your soul skis along the sea. It bounces off the palm-leaf roof. Plop. A tear trickles down the straw and dents your smoothie).
Good vibrations include the Big Dog Splash that the Rock Group organises each September, during the Sappho Women International Eressos Women’s Festival. 

Gerbien takes the pups to Zorba the Buddha every day, to put them on display for possible adoption.

They’re in a shaded circle of netting wire near the top of the steps leading  to the beach in front of the café.

A woman stands ready to strike a big gong.

 Boooooing. The pups start and stare: WTF?

 It’s the Dog Splash, of course.

Why? Because money makes a dog’s life, in the hands of Gerbien.



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