Boncuk gives Melih a kiss before heading to the surgeon's office

This is Boncuk’s last picture. She was put to sleep today because of a large tumor in her brain. She came to me and left me in the exact same manner – Sleeping. In my lap. Without a worry in the world.

In early April, 1999, my dad and I went to the flea market looking for a puppy. The flea market in Raleigh used to house a section for dogs, rabbits ferrets, and whatever else one could own as a pet. We saw a family of Boxer puppies who were gorgeous. My dad wanted to be knowledgeable, and so we went to the local library to do some research. I found a book on dogs and started reading. He walked around a bit so fara s I know, and then asked me what I’d found out.


If you give me a book, then I’ll slam through it. If you take me, or at least the 15-year old me, to a library, then you’ve just dropped a coke addict in the Columbian Jungle. No research done – just knowledge consumption.

Given that failed task, we headed back to the flea market. On arrival, the Boxer pupies were gone. It was a good thing too because in the next stand over were two jack russell terrier puppies, 6-weeks old sleeping in a pen.

I picked up the girl, and fell in love. She fit in the palm of my hand. I couldn’t put her down, and five minutes later we were in the car, heading home, blasting Celine Dion with a sleeping Boncuk in my lap.

My mom named her Boncuk.

A boncuk is a pendent of protection found throughout Turkey with the main element of the design being a set of concentric circles forming an eye. Boncuk’s are also known as “evil eyes”, and protect against “nazar”, or evil intentions. Things like jealousy over a new car, resentment at a new house or animosity towards a new child.

Our Boncuk was so named because her whole body was white except for a single black dot on her lower back.

In life her bark protected us from whoever was at the front door, and in death only God knows what she saved us from.

11 years passes by in the blink of an eyelid, but there are always memories that stand out. When Boncuk was 12 weeks old, we went to Oriental, NC to check out where the Turkish contingency of the Special Olympics would be staying. My girlfriend at the time, Sarah, came with us. We were walking Boncuk on the beach when she stopped in the middle of nowhere and used the bathroom. We didn’t know what to do, and so we buried it in the sand and ran away as fast as possible. On that first beach trip, we couldn’t get Boncuk to come swimming with us, and she never changed her mind about water.

She did however love toys, or at least she loved tearing them apart. I think we all tried to teach her to play and not destroy. She never caught on. She did however love this one bear because it had a squeaker in it. He lasted longer than the others, but eventually found the same fate.

She went to many a soccer tournament, shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York City and spoke at least three different languages.

My french exchange student, Anthony Fachaux, who the ladies loved by the way, tried to teach her tricks. She never caught on.

When Boncuk was Boncuk she had two very distinctive traits

1) She was loud
2) She licked you to death

Garage door opens, and she’s already in the laundry room barking up a storm ready to remind you that she was the first one to realize that you were home.

Sit down on the couch and she jumps up and starts licking you until you pay attention to her. I always tried to remind her that I was supposed to be the boss, but… you guessed it, she never caught on.

I feel as if there isn’t a single major milestone, or memory, in my life where she wasn’t there. She’d announce any occasion that she could in a way that only Boncuk knew how. I even jokingly wished she would be the ring bearer at my wedding so that she wouldn’t miss that milestone.

It’s the strangest feeling to not have to look at the dinner table to make sure she’s not trying to steal any food.

It’s the strangest feeling to put away her leash and bowl because they won’t be used again.

It’s the strangest feeling to to know that I’ll never again be woken up by a lick to the face from Boncuk.

When I went to say goodbye, they brought her out on a towel and put her in my lap. In that instant, that single instant, I relived 11 years of my life and realized just how empty they would have been without her in them. I held her to the very end because I wanted her to know that she wasn’t alone.

And so she left me just as she found me – Sleeping. In my lap. Without a worry in the world.

Boncuk, if you’re out there, just know that I love you so much, and I miss you even more. Canim, fistikcim, good-bye.