My heel and my heart broke as I watched the IV slip into my best friend’s arm. She looked at me from the surgery table with sad big brown eyes, silently begging me to save her from the pain. She was my traveling partner, my confidant, the keeper of my adoration and affection. She was my puppy; her name was Nemo.
I met Nemo at the famous/infamous Chatuchak market in Bangkok. This market was known for selling everything from fake Chanel bags to exotic fruits, clothing to pet chipmunks…and possibly people (although this was never proven). As my sister and I passed a table of puppies, there, no bigger than my hand, was a tiny brindle pit bull puppy. Around her neck was a black spiked bracelet that she struggled to support. I wrestled briefly between common sense and emotion, the latter soon triumphing. Before I knew it, I was picking up this beautiful, vulnerable creature and venturing into the unknown that was South East Asia.
For the next year, Nemo and I were inseparable. We made residence on dive boats, sneaked across borders and became standings in island beach communities. We shared beds, huts, meals, at times relying only on one another. Although she occasionally caused arguments with authorities, demanded my constant consideration and became the reason I was kicked off a train (she was potty training!), my adventures abroad were enriched by her unconditional, unwavering devotion.
One day, a dog that resembled a German Shepherd body on Sausage dog legs attacked Nemo on the beach. I carried her, shaking and bloody, all the way to the animal hospital. I felt helpless, nauseous and unsteady as I made the long journey. When she woke lazily the next morning, I held her close to my body and she licked my hands with tenderness. It was then, through this small, stitched up puppy, that I was able to truly understand the extensity, the enormity, of the word love.