A friend passed this along to me because she loved it so much and thought I would too and of course I did so I wanted to pass it along to you.

Thank you Caroline for finding my site and becoming one of my faithful readers and now a friend!! Your insights and contributions are always wonderful and welcomed!

And now for your ‘Boy and His Dog’ story from Rocky Mountain News

Cameron: My first dog is still by my side

W. Bruce Cameron
W. Bruce Cameron
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When I was 7 years old, Mr. Shaw’s dog had puppies, and I offered to trade him my sister for one. He threw his head back and laughed when I said this, which I interpreted to mean he’d already heard what a terrible sister I had.He told his wife, who also laughed (did everybody know about my sister?) and then called my mother, so I figured I was in big trouble. I didn’t have the authority to negotiate such a deal, even though in my opinion it would have benefited the whole family.

Half the message must have gotten through to my parents, because a couple of months later my dad opened the backyard gate and in bounded an 8- week-old Labrador. The puppy and I ran at each other like twins separated at birth, wrestling around in sheer joy. (Only later did I find out that my father had cut a worse deal: paying cash instead of unloading my defective sibling.)

Today, people leash their dogs and instantly bag up any messes they leave on the grass, which must embarrass the animals to no end. When I was a kid, though, it was generally understood that dogs and children ran through yards as free spirits, and that’s what I remember: running, my dog at my heels.

Her name was Cammie. She loved table scraps and car rides and rolling in stinky things, and she was terrified of our neighbor’s 12-ounce kitten. My father took owning a Labrador seriously and spent many weekends in the fields with a duck decoy and a whistle, vainly attempting to teach Cammie hand signals.

Cammie just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. The few times she stumbled on the dummy in the weeds, she’d pick it up and look at my father as if to say: “You want this? It’s not even real!”

Cammie’s interpretations of my father’s signals:

Signal: Short blast of whistle, sweep hand to the left.

Reaction: Run back to see whether this meant my father had doggy treats.

Signal: Two blasts of whistle, clap hands together.

Reaction: Run back to see whether this meant my father had doggy treats.

Signal: Throw whistle on ground in disgust.

Reaction: Run back to see whether this meant my father had doggy treats.

Cammie was the only one brave enough to ride on the toboggan with me down Dead Man’s Hill, so named because we all swore we knew somebody who knew somebody who had died sledding the steep slope, which terminated in a rocky creek bled dry by winter. I would never have attempted such a suicidal stunt except that Betsy Nelson told me she thought it was “brave.”

I clutched Cammie and hid my face in her neck, so when she wisely bailed out of the plummeting toboggan she took me with her. We wound up in a soft snowbank together, Cammie licking me with her coarse pink tongue.

During my POW phase, Cammie stood guard while I tried to tunnel out of my backyard. When I was lost at sea, Cammie stayed on the square of basement carpet that was my life raft, loyally remaining by my side as long as I had Milk-Bones.

Cammie brought my boomerang back when it refused to return on its own, and she panted in the back seat when my father taught me to drive – I took to it the way Cammie took to hand signals.

When I was in high school, Cammie had relatively minor surgery, but the anesthetic overwhelmed her system, and she died with the whole family gripping her fur in grief.

Despite the fact that we know we’ll outlive them, we adopt pets like Cammie because of the love they give us and their unwavering willingness to stand by us even when we stick them on a toboggan, blow whistles at them or unsuccessfully insist they try to overcome their terror and attack the neighbor’s tiny cat.

When I was a boy, Cammie was with me wherever I went, and sometimes even now she shows up in my dreams, ready to chase down boyhood pleasures.

She was my first dog, and I’ll never forget her.

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