Memory is deceptive. We make memories, they dissolve with time; we tailor the residue to our narrative, the one we all must tell ourselves in order to justify our existence. An ex-lover across a restaurant turns out to be a stranger. The recipe you grew up cooking is missing ingredients. You walk into Wayne’s basement, but this isn’t Wayne’s basement.
And that’s what makes it all the more surprising when the past actually does merge with the present, as happened with Kate Griffin and her long-lost cockapoo Cami. Ten years ago, Griffin’s parents divorced and the family dog, Cami, was given to a new home to avoid the push-and-pull of joint custody. Griffin, who was 14 years old at the time, never thought she’d see her dog again. That changed during a casual stroll in her neighborhood of Park Ridge, Illinois.
After Griffin’s story was posted on the Facebook group Dogspotting yesterday, she spoke with New York about her heartwarming experience.
“I was walking back from picking up my Starbucks and I saw these two dogs across the street. One was a bigger black shaggy dog looked like a German shepherd mix and then there was the smaller caramel-colored one,” Griffin said. “I instantly started looking at her.” Griffin immediately started wondering if the little dog was Cami, though she thought it wasn’t likely since Cami would be nearly 15 years old now. “I debated back in forth in my head if I should cross the street,” she said. “I just decided, hell, I’m doing it.”
Griffin said she tried to “act casual,” telling the woman walking the dogs how cute they were and asking about their names. The woman told her the bigger dog was named Riley, and the other, the other was Cami. “I froze. I just said, ‘Oh my god, I think that’s my dog. I think this is my dog,’” Griffin said. “The walker looked at me kind of confused and said, ‘She’s 15, she’s a sweetheart, a family got them from another family who had to give her away.’ And I just said ‘My family had to give away my puppy. This is her.’”
In any other instance, Cami would growl as the owner backed away, their voice quivering while calling for the dog. But Cami seemed to remember Griffin, coming straight to her and licking her face. “She looked right at me,” Griffin said, “and I almost lost it. I had to keep myself together and just tried to stay in the moment to be happy about seeing her and not sad about how long it had been.”
They even took a photo together:
While one’s natural instinct would be to bundle up this bundle of bygone innocence and cling to it for the rest of their days, Griffin knew it was time to say goodbye to her old friend, especially since she says she’s moving away soon.
Upon arriving at her destination, the trio stopped. “I swear Cami turned a little to walk up the sidewalk. Because it’s the same house she grew up in. That’s when I had to say good-bye and I went up and snuggled her and said thank you again to the woman and told her how much it meant to me.”
“I’m just happy I got to see her one last time,” she said, filling our hearts, if only briefly, with the hope that one day we too may enjoy one last interaction with the Cami of our past.
[via New York]