ATLANTA, Ga. (WXIA) -- There once was a tiny boy with an old soul whose name was Creed. His name meant "to believe."
Creed had a fierce spirit, but a body that battled illness from the day he was born.
His parents speak a language they never wanted to learn -- a language of pre-leukemia and chromosomal issues and bone marrow transplants.
It was a language that forced Creed to spend half his life in the hospital.
"There's nothing medically normal about that kid," says Creed's mom, Stephanie Campbell.
It would seem a bleak existence -- the opposite of what childhood should be. But Casper, a service dog from Canine Assistants, changed all of that.
Casper was the new therapy dog at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. Creed was one of Casper's first kids.The bond was instant. Different.
Casper's owner and handler Lisa Kinsel says the relationship between these two went way beyond the demands of the job. There were movies and sleepovers and countless hours spent in Creed's bed. After a lifetime of illness, a little boy had a best friend.
Creed's father Jon says, "I don't think he ever saw Casper as a dog."
One day Creed was near death. Casper came and got in bed with the little boy. Creed's mom put her son's hand on Casper's paw. His hand began to move. Later a nurse told the family, "That dog just saved your son."
Creed's health was restored but then the sickness returned. His parents could see their little boy was done fighting. Not long after Creed died a new litter of puppies was born at canine assistants. They named one for Creed.
It's an idealized image of childhood -- a boy and his dog. But the love between this boy and this dog was beyond everyone's understanding. Creed's parents believe the comfort and love Casper gave to Creed came from God, until the very end.
Creed's name will live on in another creature who will one day comfort and care for someone else. And that would make the tiny boy with the old soul very happy.