I have only known my roommate’s dog, Hepa, for more than a year but I miss her.
(Hepa died after the Sacrificial Holiday in the first week of September. Her body was on the living room couch and my roommate and best friend were present, touching the stiff body and wishing it well. I got to lift Hepa’s head, arms and body up and touched her too; also hoping that she moved on peacefully somewhere else. It was my first time to see a pet die. The atmosphere in my apartment now in the first week of October is still a broken and uneasy one.)
I miss that Hepa used to take a pogaca (the ‘g’ is silent in this word; it’s purpose is to lengthen the ‘o’ sound. A pogaca is a type of pastry filled with either soft or hard cheese or olive paste or it just comes plain and it’s supposedly a popular breakfast food in Eastern Europe as well as Turkey) from me every morning from the table in the living room where I used to bring breakfast home last fall.
She would notice me setting my breakfast items on the table and creep up with that sad look on her face, sniffing and getting my attention. She would jump on the chair next to me and whimper because that was her usual way to get me to feel so bad for her. I always gave in to her big brown, pitiful-looking eyes. She used to make sounds with her mouth that I miss too. I would always put a pogaca on the floor for her to take in her mouth and take bites out of or for her to take in her mouth and to walk around the living room with it and, a brief time later, placed the pogaca on the living room rug (there used to be a rug in the living room that was there just for her) and smack it around with her paws a little or just stare at it or lie next to it, guarding it very closely. Sometimes, she would carry the pogaca in her mouth and go to my roommate’s bedroom and lie on my roommate’s bed, keeping the pogaca close to her. There used to be crumbs on my roommate’s bed and it was only once when my roommate assumed that Hepa stole a pogaca from me because she said so and apologized. I don’t know why my roommate never mentioned the other times that Hepa spread pogaca crumbs all over her bed. Her dog was old and she’s had Hepa for more than 10 years so I figured my roommate accepted that it was Hepa’s nature to bring food on her bed and make a mess.
I used to call Hepa, ‘Heps’.
I miss how ‘Heps’ used to greet me when I opened the front door and entered home. I would hear her footsteps; they were so audible because her claws used to be so long and I loved hearing them. She would simply look up at me in greeting and she would usually follow me to my room. She would stop when I stopped. She would walk when I walked. She wouldn’t make a sound.
I miss how Hepa used to enter my bedroom while I sat in bed typing or reading something and sniff and lick my rug. She would also come to sniff and lick my indoor shoes. I would even offer her one of the shoes to lick when she sniffed around my room instead of licking the shoes right away.
I usually kept my bedroom door closed since my roommate told me that she didn’t want Hepa to go in there much but there were still occasions when I left my door ajar because I loved Hepa’s company. She would always be silent. Sometimes, she would stop right outside the door when it was open ajar and peek in, sniffing, and hesitate going in. I would look at her at times and smile at her teasingly. She would stare at me and I would stare at her. She would either walk away or enter.
I even miss when Hepa protected the food I gave to her for dear life and growl at me when I was near the food. A few times, I thought that the food wasn’t fresh anymore and only wanted to remove it because of that but Hepa would growl and I knew to keep away. I could never understand how she could see me as her enemy whenever I was near her food; it was as if her mind was automatically switched to ‘territorial mode’ any time she had food that was given to her. Hepa would almost always come close to me and be like a best friend but food made her vicious. I knew that she was a dog and it was how dogs probably were so I put up with her growling kindly.
There was a time when she was on my bed (she would go on my bed a couple of times) and she had a toe spacer in her mouth. I didn’t think that plastic was good for anyone so I tried to take the toe spacer away from her before she completely it and ingested it but she got so angry and barked twice and bit my hand. It hurt so much that I reacted loudly and said, “Hepa, you bit me. It hurts. I only wanted to help you. You aren’t eating food.”
Hepa didn’t understand my pain of course. The toe spacer and her stomach were more important than me at that moment. I dealt with my bleeding hand immediately. Hepa was a small dog so the bite wasn’t bad but it was bad enough. At least I learned that dog bites really did hurt badly. Much, much, much worse than cat bites.
Hepa swallowed the toe spacer as I just sat on the bed confused about how her stomach could take just about anything and how, for a small and lean dog, she could practically snack all day and still feel hungry. She then jumped off my bed and looked up at me with gentle eyes as if she hadn’t bitten me.
Another time I put a plate of bulgur by her in the kitchen. I used to prepare bulgur and Hepa would come into the kitchen expecting a bite to eat and, always, she would move excitedly around a circle with a wagging tail when she saw me put the food on plate, setting it down slowly (Hepa always understood when she was about to be fed). Often, she would eat what I gave her, sniffing the food before she did so. There was a time, though, when she simply sniffed the plate of bulgur with tomatoes (I always had bulgur with tomatoes cooked in with it) and look up at me as if she was asking, “What? This is it? It’s terrible. Do you have anything better?” She walked away, to my roommate’s room and I thought that it wasn’t going to do any good to just leave the food there so, assuming that Hepa didn’t want it at all, I went to pick up the plate when Hepa suddenly came running into the kitchen, growling and barking and biting me on the right heel. I was surprised and hurt and blurted out, “I’m sorry, Heps! I thought that the food just wasn’t good enough for you!” And she would stare me down baring her teeth as I kept as far a distance from her as possible. She would then lie next to her food, guarding it when she would end up not eating it at all and the food would just stay there for days before my roommate would finally pick it up somehow.
My roommate would keep Hepa’s food in her room and when I went in there every day to get the vacuum cleaner, the food would always just sit there untouched and I thought that perhaps Hepa also guarded her food as if her life depended on it from my roommate as she did with me.
I miss how I used to boil eggs in the kitchen, crack the eggs and feed the eggs to Hepa. Boiled eggs were some of Hepa’s favorite foods as I always saw my roommate boil eggs with her breakfast and feed them to Hepa. I was happy to share my food with her. I would even feel bad when I didn’t have eggs some days to give to her. I miss how she scarfed down my bulgur (usually).
Watching animals eat is actually pleasurable for me.
I miss how Hepa would sit next to me. Her warm body felt comforting.
I miss petting her, especially scratching her head.
I miss when Hepa would climb on my lap on the few occasions when I sat on the living room couch and rest. Those times, I was sad and felt that only Hepa liked me. (Dogs are more genuine than humans after all.)
I miss how my roommate would say (and it used to be my favorite words coming out of her mouth when Hepa was still alive), “Hepa likes you. When anyone else comes here, she would bark and growl to scare the person away. When I take her out on walks, she would bark at everyone. She doesn’t like people very much. But when you came to look at my apartment to see if you wanted to live here, I was surprised that Hepa walked up to you and didn’t make a sound. She would always not allow people to come here but she let you come here.”
After saying all that to that effect (as my roommate’s English isn’t that great), my roommate would always remind me that Hepa liked me because would always come to greet me quietly which was one big reason why she chose me to live with her; if Hepa liked me then I was probably a person of principle (as, I admit, my roommate revealed to me a few times; though, she takes her frustration with life out on me sometimes. I just had to remember what she said how Hepa felt about me to realize that she wasn’t mad at me but at life.
I think Hepa chose me before my roommate did to live in the apartment which is another reason why I miss Hepa. I figured that if that dog thought that I was a good person then I probably wasn’t that bad.
I miss how Hepa used to play around with big bottle caps in the living room.
I miss how Hepa used to play with her red pillow on the couch.
Near the time when she finally passed,Hepa was in excruciating pain because she moved much more slowly, struggling. Even in that condition, she would be in the living room (all the way down the hall from the front door) and when I opened the front door, I would hear Hepa’s slow and laborious footsteps in the hall, walking toward me to greet me by looking up at me. She moved with so much difficulty and still make the effort to come to me.
I miss how Hepa kept me company when the whole apartment would be dark except in my room when I’m home because I’m afraid of being alone in the dark.
I miss how Hepa used to watch cartoons in the living room with my roommate (now, my roommate no longer watches cartoons).
I miss how Hepa used to just be there to cheer my roommate up.
I miss noticing Hepa wait for my roommate to come home on my roommate’s bed, her sad eyes missing her very much. It used to get me down when I saw Hepa like that.
I miss seeing Hepa wait by the front door for my roommate to come home with her head on the floor.
I miss how cute that dog was.
I miss the unconditional loyalty of that dog.
I miss how sincere Hepa was.
Hepa could get away with biting me. No human being, though, ever can.
I would forgive Hepa more than most people I meet.
All because Hepa was genuine.
Some people may disagree with me on being able to forgive Hepa more than most humans but this is legitimately how I feel.