Sad news from Laos this week as director Mattie Do and her family reported the passing of Mango the Whippet and Laos' first canine film star, noted for his performance in Mattie Do's acclaimed 2013 ghost story, Chanthaly. He even made the movie poster.
In the end, they buried Mango at her father's house in Laos, and her father had prepared a mango tree sapling to be placed alongside the burial site, which seemed a fitting tribute. Mango was a familiar and distinctive sight to many traveling through Vientiane as one of the only known Whippets in the city.
On a personal level, although I never met Mango, as a Lao American poet with dachshunds, I felt a deep affection towards him. He inspired the name for the Sleepy Whippet Production Company that brought Chanthaly to life and in a way he appears in my poem, "From the Fabled Midwest" in my collection DEMONSTRA.
Mattie Do loves ballet, but she never did get to get a picture of him in a tutu with her in a studio, alas, although they came close. 2016 has been a hard year for losing people and companions we care about, and Mango will be among those missed.
As a Whippet, Mango was a sighthound whose breed has roots in England, descended from greyhounds. The name is derived from an archaic 1600s word that meant to "move briskly," although Mango seemed to much prefer naps. Whippets became popular in the sport of dog racing over time, and they're sometimes described as "the poor man's racehorse." Which Mango would probably have laughed at.
But thanks for all of the wonderful memories, Mango, and the joy you brought into so many lives of so many fans around the world. There will never be another one like you.