Two Hearts United

January 31, 2010
When I first got my dog Camper, I was one year old. Camper was six months old. He was a mix breed with big floppy ears. I remember he had a distinct little pink spot on the end of his nose and my mom would constantly say, “Can I have that little pink spot on the end of your nose?” and we would always laugh. I’ve had him my whole life. I loved Camper. He was my dog and mine alone. He had been through a lot that made him an even bigger inspiration to me.

Camper was always so funny at Christmas time or birthdays. He always loved watching others open presents and waiting for himself to receive his own present. If he didn’t get his own present he would suddenly start helping other people open their own presents and tear and rip and slash the wrapping paper open and run and be so happy and filled with joy.

One sunny afternoon, I was enjoying freshly baked chicken nuggets and a side of ketchup while watching my usual episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog. I suddenly heard my mom screech and saw her dash out of the house. Quickly, I ran outside to find Camper, the love of my life, the ketchup to my chicken nuggets, had been lying on the rough concrete pavement helplessly. A truck hit him! What?!
When my mom had gotten Camper out of the road, he was covered in blood. His leg was hanging on by a thread and I was beyond scared out of my wits. She yelled to me, “GET IN THE CAR!” As I listened to my mom and did what I was told, the thoughts came flooding back to me of when he would take turns with me on the slide, sit and watch Barney with me patiently, and never, not once, chew up my toys. It was then we rushed to the Animal Hospital. I can’t remember which hospital it was because the event was so heartrending that I blocked it out of my mind.
As I entered the bitter doors located on the side of the hospital entrance, I shivered. This was too complicated! What in the world is going on! As I kept asking, no one would tell me. I know I saw the dripping blood and the leg but I was still too little to comprehend.
They didn’t want to scare me. They didn’t want to scare me? It was panicking me that no one would tell me what was happening. Seeing Camper being rushed into emergency care was too much. The agony of it all was killing me as I sat waiting in the hospital while watching mom pace back and forth throughout the harsh freezing halls. As I quivered to the hospital chair, suddenly I had a chill. A chill of a feel of all the remembrances of every animal patient who didn’t make it out all right was far beyond the thoughts of a five year old. Imagine for a moment the thought of a little girl waiting inside a cold stone hospital filled with tears of people while not knowing if the dog that she had loved all her life will make it out alive or not. Not understanding what is happening, not knowing the truth of the matter and stammering on the results on my emotionally and physically strong soldier, Campy. Imagining Camper in the hospital surrounded by doctors and nurses was too poignant.
Camper had lost his back leg. Although it took him a couple years, he was walking and enjoying life again while having to deal with getting arthritis in his leg and ending up in a wheel chair. He also took medication to help him with his struggle through life.

This past Christmas, he had just turned thirteen years old. He had been having some pain in his back hip so my mom decided to take him to vet. Of course I was upset about watching him suffer because I just didn’t want anything to happen to him and anything to be wrong with him in the first place. I felt confused and dismantled. The feeling of doubt of his life overwhelmed me. I kept thinking, how am I supposed to overcome this? How am I supposed to deal with this? All questions Camper would never question. He would, as my grandpa would say, “Pull up your bootstraps and get it done.”

During that time, I remember my mom coming back from the vet and she still had Camper. I just prayed and thanked the Lord that he was all right. She told me that he has to double his medication and that he would be fine. I was jumping for joy and when I first saw Camper walk through the door, I burst out into tears of happiness. I was so ecstatic to have my Camper back! If only I knew the horror that lied before me, and the challenges he would face in the future.

With Camper, so happy, so blissful, so free in his nature, I couldn’t understand how he did it. He couldn’t complain, he could whine but rarely so often did he. I wanted to know how he dealt with his life. How did he deal with all his pain and suffering of his leg? I wanted to ask him why he never cried or gave up. This was unforgettable; the start of my own personal mountain in which I was forced to climb.
One morning my mom immediately woke me up and said, “I have to take Camper to the vet and I want you to stay here.” I yelled “No!! Why can’t I go with you!! You can’t take Camper away from me!!” She told me to come and talk to Camper in case he was put down. I told him, “Camper, you will be alright and I want you to remember that I will always love you and you will always be in my heart.” As I’m writing, I’m crying because the remembrance of Camper is just too painful to reminisce on. The feeling of losing a loved one is too unbearable.
While waiting for Camper to return with my mom from the vet that morning, I trying to comprehend the sense of the whole matter, I cried. I cried and then cried all the more. All I did was cry. I was trying to hope for the best. I was trying to know what was real and what I was just imagining. I didn’t know what was reality. Was I dreaming? Was this really the end? I remember sitting near my bench just praying to God that he would be okay. My mom knocked on my bedroom door and as I trembled to answer it she said, “I’m sorry.”
Panicked, I didn’t know what to do. I was emotionally heart broken; I started freaking out; I couldn’t control the uncontrollable tears that stained my eyes. I felt devastated! I didn’t know how to react with this amount of pain I was feeling in my heart. It was as if the world had stopped and I was caught in a bottomless song of sadness. I then fell into a depression of grief. Because my heart was so damaged, I lost around twenty pounds. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t feel. I didn’t want to believe he was dead so that’s what I did. I literally didn’t let myself believe he was gone because the hurt was so unbearable.
My mom found out he had bone cancer in his hip from that one truck accident. It was that one truck accident that flipped his whole world upside down. It was that one truck accident that turned his whole perspective of life around. It was that one instantaneous moment he stepped onto the concrete death chamber of life in which he could never escape the fate of the loss of his leg. But what about his gain? It was also his gain that something so tragic and painful could make him stronger. It made him reckless as he trotted through life. And after a while it made him robust as he ran through life. He never stopped feeling the joy of life the same way he had enjoyed as a puppy while facing the trials of having three legs. He never stopped running through life, enjoying every adventure he came across while he faced excruciating pain. Until that piercing day when my mom took him to the vet that ended his adventures throughout life and gained him a one-way ticket into heaven. I always knew he was special. He never gave up. Never.

I loved Camper with all my heart and I find myself drifting in memories with him. Memories too painstakingly hard to say but I know he is in heaven with God running without a care in the world with all four of his legs. Unscathed, unbroken, and unharmed. After he passed away, my mom saw my life becoming unhappier and couldn’t let it peruse any further. She called me into her room and quivered, “Do you want another dog?” I had to ponder on what she had stated and what I was thinking and a week later she again asked, “Would you like to get another dog?” it was then I responded, “Yes.”

We got Coco Chanel about a month ago and she has been a bundle of joy since we’ve had her. I’m still heart broken when I think about Camper, but I’ll always remember what an inspiration he was to me. How he kept going even though it was painful and rough. The strength he had was so moving that I figured I could apply this to my life. Whenever things get hard for me and I feel like giving up I can always remember Camper’s voyage through life. I can always remember Camper’s trials of pain, his ways of never giving up although I will never again get a chance to ask him how he never gave up until God has decided it is my time to return home. Home with my king. I keep this quote within my heart under a patch that has been torn and sowed up again. I also keep this in hand on my writing and declamation notebook and whenever I see this I will always remember my first love that will always remain in my heart, Camper.
“Believe in yourself, even when things get hard!” –Miley Cyrus.

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