This book is dedicated to my parents Nikolai and Olga, who instilled in me the importance of love and compassion for all living creatures.
Over the high mountains, blue seas and booming streams in a miraculous forest at a mighty oak there was a forester’s hut. And a lady Labrador dog Gemmulka lived there. She preferred her full name — Gemma, but it was impossible to comply with such a strict name when chasing after a motley butterfly around the meadow or squealing with joy or splashing in the stream. And moreover…
When in the evening the forester was patting her head with his big warm hand and was fiddling her soft ears she felt as if she was Gemma — incredibly small and highly beloved.
She regularly guarded the hut listening to every rustle in the night and in the morning she loved walking together with the forester, listening to the birds singing in the summer or studying the footprints in the snow in winter. “Gemma is a dog with an easy disposition!” — the magpie Tasha chattered observing the hedgehog Bim drag pieces of meat from a lady Labrador dog’s plate. And the red squirrels Nat and Pat signified consent with a nod.
And Gemma is not greedy: the thoughtful forester liked to treat her to all sorts of delicious food, always fresh and abundant — why shouldn’t she share with others.
On a cold October morning most of all Gemma loved running along the multicolored carpet of fallen leaves, scrambling acorns for squirrels with her paw, knocking down cobwebs from the guelder rose bush with her tail, frightening a flock of sparrows, and then completely getting lost in the immense beauty of the autumn forest.
But this year the autumn appeared to be very long — very few berries and mushrooms could be found in the forest and trees reluctantly lost their last leaves, the smell of summer was still in the air, the forest was warm and lively.
One day at dawn, when the first rays of the sun pierced the colorful foliage and water in a bowl reflected the blazing sunbeams Gemma decided to go for a walk. It was warm and humid in the forest.