A story about an extraordinarily loyal dog has touched the hearts of animal lovers all over the world, and probably has many of us thinking: If I had a medical emergency, would my pet chase an ambulance to the hospital and wait there for days until I emerged?
That’s what Boncuk the loyal dog did after her owner, Cemal Senturk, suffered a brain embolism and was taken to a hospital in the northern Turkish city of Trabzon on Jan. 14.
Boncuk waited patiently for her best friend until Aynur Egeli, Senturk’s daughter, took the loving pup home the first night.
The next morning Boncuk was gone, and Egeli knew exactly where she was going.
“She comes every day around 9 a.m. and waits until nightfall,” Muhammet Akdeniz, a security guard at the hospital, told local media. “When the door opens she pokes her head inside,” Akseniz said, but the polite pooch “doesn’t go in.”
Boncuk was reunited with Senturk on Wednesday when an orderly wheeled the man out to the hospital entrance. Senturk was later discharged.
In photos and a short video of the reunion, Boncuk is the image of happiness and relief: Her tail wags uncontrollably and she can’t contain her enthusiasm as she literally jumps for joy.
“She’s very used to me,” Senturk said. “And I miss her, too, constantly.”
Boncuk’s story reminds us of Hachiko, the Japanese Akita dog who was so devoted to his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, that he’d run to Shibuya station every day to greet Ueno as he stepped off the subway. Ueno was in mid-lecture in front of a class of students when he suffered a brain hemorrhage and died on the spot.
Hachiko returned to Shibuya every day at the same time for the next 10 years, waiting for his beloved human.
It’s a story of animal devotion that resonates so strongly with people that Hachiko was memorialized with a statue just feet from the spot where he stood every day, waiting for Ueno.
Yes, this wonderful story begs the question: Would my pet do the same for me?
Putting aside the problem of actually getting to the hospital — which would be almost impossible given the distance, traffic and the fact that he’s an indoor cat — if Bud were allowed to stay in a hospital room with me, I believe wholeheartedly that he would remain by my side.
Like other pets who have strong bonds with their people, he knows when I’m not feeling well, and when I was sidelined with Bell’s palsy and a debilitating headache a few years ago, he never left my side.
That is not to say he wouldn’t be his usual incorrigible self. You know that little button that calls the nurse? He would abuse the hell out of it if he knew its function, and he’d probably think the nurses were there to serve him, bring him snacks and fluff his pillow.
The truth is that pets are not allowed in the vast majority of hospitals. Writing in PetLife, Alicia Beyer notes pets “not only brighten patients’ spirits, but hospitals are reporting that the pet visits can have dramatic effects on patient’s health, recovery and emotional well-being.”
In Canada, there’s an organization called Zachary’s Paws, which was started by Donna Jenkins in honor of her 25-year-old nephew.
“While Zachary was in the hospital for many weeks and very sick after having a stem cell transplant, he begged to see his dog, Chase,” Jenkins told Bored Panda. “We sneaked Chase into ICU to see him and the effect it had on Zachary was remarkable. When Zachary realized he was not going to survive his cancer, he made me promise to start the organization.
But as PetMD notes, there are good reasons why most hospitals don’t allow pets, including problems pets can pose to patients with compromised immune systems and allergies. Hospitals that do allow pet visits have strict standards, and the animals must be thoroughly cleaned by staff before they’re allowed in.
Alas, even as more hospitals allow pet visitation or therapy animals, many exclude cats, and a 2015 report by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America says cats “should be excluded.” The report claims cats can’t be trained as well as dogs, the risk of bites and scratches is higher, and more patients may be allergic to cats.