On an internet that’s often oppressively awful, the Facebook group “Dogspotting” remains a beacon of compassion, kindness, and, of course, photos and videos of dogs. Even better, sometimes those photos are accompanied by stories — like the tale of Kate Griffin, her cockapoo Cami, and their decadelong separation. Griffin’s tale went viral yesterday, for reasons you and your tear ducts will quickly understand.
The story starts ten years ago, when Griffin’s parents got divorced and decided that, given the back and forth of joint custody, Cami needed to be given away to a more stable home. A family babysitter found the dog a permanent family, and that was the last time Griffin and her sister ever saw Cami. “We were totally blindsided, but my mom said it was for the best,” Griffin said. That was just over ten years ago and Griffin, now 24, had, understandably, long since abandoned hope of ever seeing Cami again. Until Tuesday, when she was walking through her neighborhood in Illinois and spotted a dog she thought just might be her old puppy.
“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.’”
Cami and Griffin took a picture together — which later went viral after Griffin posted in Dogspotting — and the walker let Griffin walk Cami for a bit. “I sat down next to her and just kept saying ‘Cami!’ and eventually she walked over and started licking my face,” Griffin said. “She looked right at me 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.”
The two continued walking and finally reached Cami’s house. “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.” Griffin said she didn’t get any contact information for Cami’s owners and doesn’t think she’ll see her again. “I think it’s for the best. I really felt like this was a sign because I’m planning on moving into the city soon and so I won’t even be in Park Ridge [Griffin’s childhood neighborhood] much anymore. I’m just happy I got to see her one last time.”