When one dog snuck out of his home every day, his owner didn’t think much of it. But then he began to wonder just what the animal got up to. And when he discovered where the dog went, it floored him.
Mehmet Illhan lived in the city of Bursa in the northeast of Turkey. By the time he was 79, the elderly man had suffered years of illness. His health had declined so severely, in fact, that he had become paralyzed in his later life.
These years were no doubt a difficult time for Mehmet. But thankfully for him, he had a faithful companion by his side no matter what. That friend was Cesur – Mehmet’s beloved dog, who he’d adopted a couple of years earlier.
“My father was paralyzed for many years and adopted Cesur as a puppy two years ago to keep him company,” Mehmet’s son, Ali, said in an interview printed by The Mirror in January 2017. “He loved the dog and took very good care of him.”
So when Mehmet’s health began to deteriorate, Cesur stuck by his master’s side. And as it became clear that his owner was facing his final battle, the dog took it hard. “When my father was in the hospital during his last days, Cesur stopped eating,” Ali told The Dodo in January 2017.
Eventually, Mehmet passed away at a hospital near the house that he’d shared with Cesur. As you’d expect, the news devastated his family, who wanted to give their loved one a fitting send-off. So they brought Mehmet’s body home to rest while they planned his funeral.
It was during this time that Mehmet’s relatives noticed how much Cesur was grieving. The dog stood guarding his owner’s body for hours, in fact, without so much as moving a paw. Then, when the time came to transport the coffin to the local mosque, Cesur led the funeral procession.
Throughout the ceremony, Cesur remained close to the coffin, hanging his head in a forlorn manner. And, as if he understood the gravitas of the situation, he refused to be distracted. “Nobody could touch him until my father was taken to the grave and was buried,” Ali told The Dodo.
On Mehmet’s final journey to his grave, Cesur took the opportunity to walk with his master one last time. “He wouldn’t move away from the coffin, not even an inch, at the funeral,” Ali recalled to The Mirror. “Then he followed us to the cemetery and waited until he had been buried.”
The dog looked on in sadness as his loving master was lowered into the ground. Following the funeral, Cesur went home with Ali, who adopted the dog in his father’s honor. The animal struggled to leave his life with Mehmet behind, however.
Each day, when Ali would leave for work, Cesur would emerge from inside and bolt out of the door. At first, his new owner didn’t think much of it. Perhaps the animal was simply struggling to settle into his new surroundings.
After this happened for five days in a row, though, Ali’s curiosity got the better of him. As a result, he decided to follow Cesur on his mysterious adventures. But where the dog led him left Ali completely dumbfounded.
It turned out that every day since Mehmet’s funeral Cesur had made his way through the city to visit his late owner’s grave. While there, he would simply sit by Mehmet’s side, just like he did in the good old days.
Just like Mehmet’s family, it appeared that the dog was in mourning. “I think Cesur is just sad because he is missing him,” Ali said. “Nowadays he visits the grave every day because he can’t seem to get used to the absence of my father.”
From then on, Cesur continued his daily pilgrimage to Mehmet’s grave. Some days, Ali would accompany him but he’d often make his own way there. “The people who work in the cemetery say the first thing he does in the morning is visit the grave of my father,” Ali revealed to The Dodo.
On the whole, dogs’ emotions remain a mystery to scientists. However, a study by the ASPCA found two-thirds of dogs will experience lethargy and loss of appetite following the death of another dog in their household. These findings appear to suggest that our pets are at least capable of mourning other dogs.
Whether they grieve for their human companions can only be judged by anecdotal evidence. Nonetheless, there are plenty of accounts that suggest that the bond between dogs and their owners is strong.
There are tales of dogs wailing at their master’s funeral, for instance. Some refuse to leave their owner’s grave. Others, meanwhile – just like Cesur – will somehow find their way to the cemetery weeks after their owner’s passing.
One famous story of a dog in mourning comes from the 19th century. When police nightwatchman John Gray passed away in Edinburgh, his dog, Greyfriars Bobby, supposedly spent 14 years guarding his grave. In fact, he remained by his master’s side until his own death.
So, while there’s still no way of knowing for sure how dogs feel about their owners’ deaths, it appears that they feel more than many people give them credit for. And, for Cesur at least, his loyalty will be rewarded. “Cesur has always been a noble animal,” Ali said. “He will live with me from now on.”