The Turkish Diva
Tom and I had been living in Turkey for one year when Roger, our beloved Westie, died. He was 16 years old and, although his body had failed him on many fronts, his personality sparkled right up to the end. He charmed every soul he met at the Koç School where we taught English. We were devastated at his loss. I promised Tom that I would not even think about getting another dog until we returned to Maine a year later. My resolve lasted three months. Finally Tom told me to “go get another dog! I can’t live with you like this,” he said.
Leslie & Roger in Turkey
I called Dr. Süleyman at the Teleskop Pet Shop in Istanbul and asked him if he had any small terriers for sale. “I get a shipment from Hungary on Tuesday,” he told me. “You come,” he ordered. “Right away!”
Tom had to supervise an after-school study hall that Tuesday, so I embarked on my adventure alone. We lived on the Asian side of the Boshphorus. I drove our Volkswagen Polo to Kadiköy and took the ferry across that great waterway with the whole panoply of Istanbul spread out before me—the domes of Hagia Sophia, the six minarets of the Blue Mosque, the massive walls of Topkapı Palace, the Galata Bridge floating across the mouth of the Golden Horn. At Eminönü, I pushed through the crowded ferry terminal, crossed a sea of speeding cars on an overhead pedestrian walk, circled the Yeni Mosque, and found the entrance to the Bird Bazaar, a warren of narrow streets lined with packed cages, redolent of animal smells, and ringing with squawks, squeals, chirps, meows, and woofs. The Teleskop Pet Shop was half-way up on the left.
The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Bosphorus
Dr. Süleyman met me at the door and escorted me up a crooked set of secret stairs that led to the kennel, a room full of cages and every dog imaginable, from giant Turkish Kangals, to to German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Boxers, to a matched pair of Fox Terriers, to Pekinese, Pomeranians, and Poodles, to a clutch of tiny puppies in a box. He handed me one of the pups, no bigger than a Guinea pig, with white fur, curly black ears, and a tan saddle across its back. “This is best one,” Dr. Süleyman announced. “You take,” he urged. “A Bolognese Terrier,” he said with a flourish. Kinsey bit my thumb with her sharp, puppy teeth, then kissed my chin with her sweet, pink tongue. I knew she was the one for me.
Kinsey came back to the Koç School with me, where she promptly came down with the worst case of parasites that Dr. Banu, our vet, had ever seen. Kinsey spent a week in the Anatolia Animal Hospital off Bağdat Street getting IV’s packed with drugs, and I spent the week getting fierce lectures from Dr. Banu on the pitfalls of buying pet store puppies. Both Kinsey and I survived the ordeal.
Kinsey (with her first Turkish haircut!) & Dr. Banu
Today Kinsey rules over our roost—all 12 tiny pounds of her—on the coast of Maine. She is our Alpha Princess—connoisseur of soft laps, the best chair in the house, the vast majority of our bed. She is also our self-appointed Homeland Security Czarina. Beware all chickadees, chipmunks, and unsuspecting UPS men! Sometimes I ponder her lineage. I feel sure that she was born in an ancient castle in Hungary, not a puppy mill at all, to a royal Bolognese mother with a long pedigree and a common rat terrier father of fierce mixed breeds. Woops! When strangers ask, I say she is part frou-frou, part terrorist.
Kinsey & Leslie (with my Turkish haircut!)
Kinsey with her Teddy