After a long decline and a quick illness, our friend Mo left us Monday afternoon. Now we have only one carpetdog and she's as sad as we are.
You know how some people are about kids? That's how we were about this dog. He was also exhibit number one for why we should never have kids -- we openly favored one dog over the other, played them against each other, left them both for a year with a complete stranger while we traveled around the world and frequently let basic principles of obedience slide.
Mo was 14 and lived in four countries, as well as in San Francisco and Portland. We got him in August, 1996 from the San Francisco SPCA at 11 months old. He flunked out of obedience class twice and never achieved Canine Good Citizen status that would have opened all kinds of doors to him. A herding dog with no herding instinct, he was still always able to identify the "stupid sheep," the person in the room whom he determined needed a little extra supervision (Red State Sibling was the original stupid sheep). Despite being unnaturally attuned to the emotional state of humans, he was unable to distinguish between public displays of affection and aggression, and would loudly insert himself between people engaged in either, except, inexplicably, when the Producer had Deli Komsu in a headlock.
People who knew him in America would be surprised how much he'd slowed down over the last few years. People in Istanbul, Kyiv or Baku never saw him keep up with the greyhounds at the park, hike 12 miles a day or chase a tennis ball until he collapsed in a heap in the grass. Years of hard living left him crippled with arthritis but I have the sense he had few regrets. By the end, we held him together with baling wire and duct tape.
After bad vet experiences in Baku, we had deep reservations about the quality of vet care in Istanbul. Fortunately, Dr. Elif Turan at the Anipoli Clinic in Cihangir provided compassionate, highly competent care until the very end, even though I second-guessed her every step of the way. She methodically ruled out possible diagnoses and bird-dogged new treatments that she thought might extend his life. When he couldn't walk the three blocks to her office, she came to the house to keep him comfortable. She was compassionate enough to know when to quit and how, despite a cultural gap the size of the Bosporus, to communicate her thoughts to us.
Having gone through both birth and death here in Istanbul, we feel a profound sense of community and support. As the unthinkable became unbearably thinkable, dear friends stepped up to help coordinate details that neither of us could face. For this, we are grateful and indebted.
The whole experience was as awful as it always is, but probably not sufficiently so that, next time we see a cute puppy, we will remember how, in the end, animals always break your heart.