Dogs experience a wide range of emotions, just as humans do: joy, sadness, fear, security, happiness, anger, envy, self-sacrificing love and protectiveness. They run the gamut of feelings to greater or lesser degrees of intensity, depending on their individual temperaments. Extremely loyal to those they love — and they bond very quickly — there is no question that they experience grief when someone they are devoted to disappears. Duman is a perfect example of a dog who has suffered loss.
To understand Duman, one must first know about Çorniy, a beautiful black dog, his brother. The two of them grew up together and were inseparable until the day that Çorniy became ill, was taken to the doctor and lost along the way. When Defne learned about his disappearance, she immediately put Duman in her car and the two of them drove and walked up and down every street in the neighbourhood where he was last seen, expanding their search widely to surrounding areas. With Duman sniffing for his scent and Defne calling his name, they hunted for him for weeks. They have not given up, whenever Defne sees a black dog on the streets, she checks to see if it is Çorniy.
Without his brother, Duman fell into mourning. His depression was evident when he lost his appetite, kept to himself, slept more than normal.
Today, he’s aloof from the other dogs. He never really bonded with another canine friend. He’s waiting for Çorniy.
When I went to meet Duman, we took a walk and sat in the woods. Ahmet brushed his thick coat as Defne told his story. At first Duman wasn’t paying much attention to the conversation, but as soon as Defne said the name “Çorniy’”, he focused.
When she got tears in her eyes describing their search, Duman moved closer, looked at our
faces, nudged Defne with his snout so she would put her arm around him. He was as tuned in to her emotions as she was to his and would periodically look down the trail as if he was expecting Çorniy to appear.
Duman is not the only dog at BU Paws that has experienced the grief of separation. Many of Istanbul’s street dogs have been abandoned by people to whom they were devoted and the pain of it never leaves them. In an article in Al Monitor, “Why are Turkey’s Dogs Committing Suicide?”, Tulay Cetingulec writes, “Turkey’s problem of dog abandonment first emerged in coastal summer home communities, with people casting off dogs before heading back to cities at the end of the season. The phenomenon has now spilled over to urban areas as a result mostly of impulse purchases from pet shops — often to reward children for good grades or as presents for Valentine’s Day and wedding anniversaries — with little thought about the animals’ long-term care. The dogs — most of them purebred and trained — are either left in animal shelters or simply thrown out in Turkey's streets, which are already home to a large population of stray dogs and cats…Distraught and depressed, abandoned dogs often starve to death as they wait in vain for their owners to come take them back.” Buying a dog with no intention of making a full commitment to its well-being is nothing less than an act of cruelty.
BU Paws offers an excellent alternative to people who like dogs, but are not able to keep them at home. Instead of buying a dog as a gift, consider giving a donation in a loved one’s name as a Foster Family. For 200 TL a month, you can donate for a dog, whom you can visit as often as you like, go for walks and play with. Then when you are at home, you know your dog is safe, loved and cared for at the sanctuary. It is the perfect solution.
Duman has been selected as the Foster Dog for Prof. Dr. Neş’e Bilgin, chairperson of Boğaziçi
University’s Wildlife Conservation Commission. When asked why she chose him out of the sixty-six dogs at the sanctuary, she said that she feels responsible not only for Duman, but for all of the stray animals on campus. As one walks around the school, it is obvious that many Boğaziçi students and staff embrace the strays as part of their community, so it comes as no
surprise that the sanctuary is located at this university and that a BU graduate, Defne Arsoy, initiated the Foster Family Program, in which individual faculty and academic departments as a group are participating. At this point, it is unlikely that we will ever see Çorniy again, though Defne and Duman will never give up hope. We can heal the pain of loss by volunteering at the sanctuary. In the words of naturalist Jennifer Rigby, “No matter what they have suffered in the past, dogs are always forgiving, always ready to love.”
Duman looking down the trail expecting his brother, Çorniy, to appear.