We have met at La Vanguardia to record this interview. In the distance, walking along Diagonal Avenue from Villarroel Street, I recognize Paula Gonu’s straight, dark medium hair and the no less popular dog Coco (Coco, as she calls her, with that article in front of the names we usually give in Catalonia), who right at that moment is busy with one of her most canine tasks: relieving herself. Paula picks them up and we go up to the set.

The influencer born in Badalona has earned the loyalty of almost two million followers on Instagram, 1.4 on YouTube and 650,000 on TikTok based on naturalness and closeness: she says yes to posing in a bikini on the beach, but she also teaches us the discarded photos, the typical ones where you are left with a double chin or your eyes closed; She dresses like a diva to go out partying but then takes a selfie in the mirror after removing her makeup. And she does not mince words when talking about the topic at hand, also while she prepares her recipes on her YouTube channel.

Romina: From what we see on Instagram, Coco accompanies you everywhere…

Paula: Whenever I can, yes.

Paula and I have sat on the sofa and the dog, who has placed herself in the middle, is closing her eyes with sleep.

Romina: I see that we are already falling asleep, before the interview.

Paula: He loves to sleep (laughs).

Romina: Who would you say Coco is to you? Is he like your daughter, your partner, your friend?

Paula: Ugh… It’s hard to describe it. Coco is… Yes, the best company of my life. There is something super intense between us, it gives me unconditional love. She has been with me for 11 years and I love her dearly. I don’t have children, but Coco is as if she were my daughter.

I see things that people do for their children and I think I would do the same for her, bridging the gap. When she’s not there, I miss her so much, I hear her little paws down the hallway even though she’s not there. I give so much love to this dog that sometimes I think that I am not right in her head, that she is just a dog and that I should differentiate her from a person, but I don’t care about her.

Romina: What trait of your character defines you the most?

Paula: Well, sometimes she is very calm, she is like a cushion, and other times, when you take her outside, for example, she is tremendously active, she is like two dogs in one. Or a bipolar bitch (laughs). And she is also somewhat capricious, she knows how to make eyes at me and even scratches my legs and cries to get food when I start cooking. But with my father, for example, he doesn’t even go near the table because he knows that nothing is going to fall. He also has his way of behaving with one of my ex-partners, with whom we have “shared custody.” She knows how to adapt to everyone.

Romina: What is a normal day with Coco like? I say “normal” considering that you don’t stop between trips, events…

Paula: This last month, the poor thing has been resting due to a herniated disc, but I normally take her if I go to a terrace, if I go by car somewhere, to work or events, even to photocalls (always asking if she can go )… It’s almost like a stuffed animal; Sometimes you don’t realize she’s there because she’s very polite. Still, lately I think that I don’t do everything with her that I could, that I would love to do more things with her. Above all, when I spend hours working from home, I feel bad that I haven’t gotten more out of it. In the end she adapts to me a lot and when we are more at home she never complains. I would love to live in the country, because she is very happy there.

Romina: Have you ever encountered a “no” at an event when it came to letting Coco in?

Paula: Yes, of course, but I can understand it: it’s a dog. Although she is small and, as she told you, she behaves very well; she learned where to pee and poop naturally. If he ever does it at home, because he couldn’t stand it, he does it in the shower. She only messed up once… I went with some friends to Louis Vuitton on Paseo de Gracia because one of them wanted to look at a bag and as soon as she walked through the door, Coco shit on the velvet carpet at the entrance (laughs).

Romina: Well, everyone has a grip, especially when we get older. By the way, I just saw Coco walking down the street looking very agile, she doesn’t show how 11 years old she is.

Paula: I haven’t had dogs before, so I have no reference to what age they start to lose weight. I have always seen her with so much energy – even running and jumping from the cliffs into the sea at Cap de Creus not long ago – that people then ask me her age and when I tell them they answer that she is old. And I wonder, what do you say, as an old lady? It’s true that we had the hernia scare and on top of that, the vet told us that it could be something degenerative, and that’s when I thought: “oh, the ailments are beginning.” It seems strange to me, because for me he will always be a baby.

Romina: In fact, you recently did the last stage of the Camino de Santiago together.

Paula: I wanted to do everything with her, share those 40 days together, because she is my best friend. But I realized that it was not possible, it was too much for her. A person can rest or take a bus when they want, but a dog is not going to tell you “my legs hurt from walking so much or I have soreness.” I thought that she was not going to be selfish, because deep down I was the one who wanted to do it with her and I decided that I would only take her in the last stage. It wasn’t easy to bring her because she was half a kilo over the weight allowed on the plane, but thanks to a follower who worked for an airline company I was able to have her with me and achieve my goal of reaching Santiago with Coco.

Romina: What would you advise to someone who is considering sharing their life with a dog?

Paula: I would recommend to everyone to have a dog at some point in their life, as long as they have the availability to give them a quality of life that they deserve, and a lot of love. Although it is also true that not everyone can have dogs; I know people who couldn’t because they wouldn’t treat it well at all. But in general, a dog makes you a better person.

Romina: How has Coco made you a better person?

Paula: Thanks to her I have learned to be responsible because you have to take care of her, because she is like a little person who is in your charge and who will never reproach you for anything, she is by your side unconditionally. Coco only brings me good things. In fact, for my brother, who has a disability, one of the first things the neurologist recommended was that he get a dog, because that would help him be responsible or socialize.

Something bad about having a dog is that, when you realize that it is already old, you inevitably think about the day when it will be gone. I’ve had a tremendous amount of crying about it and I don’t think I would have another dog, just to avoid that moment again. But it’s so rewarding to share life with a dog, what they give you, no one else will give you. It’s selfish, you have a dog to fill something you lack.

Romina: Let’s talk about you for a moment. Any important professional projects in the offing?

Paula: Look, just before getting in the car to come to the interview, I was looking at apartments because I wanted to go live in Madrid. It’s a project between the professional and the personal, because I spend my life taking trains back and forth, sleeping in hotels or in friends’ houses and packing my suitcase. I’m also going to release a recipe book and another project is to go to Bali for a while to work from there because I’ve had things pending for a long time. Coco, who at times seems to fall asleep, sticks out her tongue and licks Paula and I’s hands while we caress her.

Romina: I have seen that you also give each other some important kisses on the mouth with Coco.

Paula: Well, when it catches me off guard. My mother gets nervous when she lets her kiss me (laughs), and I don’t let other dogs that aren’t mine, but Coco… (look of love at the dog).