I had only been tattooing a few years when Cain came into my life. I was young and insane and so was he. The minute we met our lives both were changed forever. I had never "owned" a dog. I had a snake, because they are easy to care for, and had passed away about a year before this stubborn black and white Pit burst into my life.
I was a terrible tattooer, a mean kid full of anger, I used to fight a lot too, and I was horny. I went through women more than he went through foster homes. I was on drugs as often as possible, I was a dishonest person, fueled by selfishness and hatred. I was unhappy and so was he. We were both on the move, looking for something, and what we found was each other.....
(At the time I did not know anything about pit bulls, except they were "badass" and I was a "badass" so naturally why not get a badass fighting dog and strut him around in some spiky f*cking collars. I also knew that dog fighting was terrible, and I liked the idea of helping a dog recover from abuse.)
A lot of women came in and out of that front door, and our lives. He never paid them much attention. He seemed to understand they were for my sexual purposes, and that they would be gone soon. He would even perk up after they would leave, and we would get drunk together and watch TV. He would sit on my foot till the sun came up while I was drawing. I worked a lot, leaving him alone in my house for as many as 14 hours at a time. He liked it that way, he was independent after all, and had a timer on his food and water, and a way to go outside. He also began to get protective of our home, barking at car alarms or cops or Jehovah's witnesses. He had never done that before that I had seen. When I came home, it was like an explosion of love every day.
Also something new for both of us. I started WANTING to go home instead of staying out all night being a weirdo in casinos and strip clubs. I began to look forward all day to being done with my crappy tattoos and taking him around the neighborhood. He slept in my bed every night after whatever woman would leave. I didn't like women to "sleep over" and either did he. We were a team. Team big balls. It was cheesy, fun, and different than anything I had ever experienced.This was a new feeling for me. I was feeling love. I was beginning to be protective of him, just as he was of me and our home.
It was in Vegas that I learned what love is, and for the first time in my life other than my parents, I cared about something other than myself. He taught me that. It was obvious that it was mutual. He followed me everywhere, while still doing his own thing, he was always nearby. Still wouldn't "sit", but if I didn't tell him to, he would always come sit right next to me. Stubborn f*cker.
Women continued to come and go, but we were the only constant in each other's lives. Different cities, different hotels, different beds, different tattoo shops, but he and I stood together enjoying every minute of it. This was the happiest I had ever been in my adult life. I was becoming successful, I was changing, my income was changing, f*ck everything was changing. Our time together was changing my life.
Every night I would prepare a meal on a portable bar-bq grill made of coat hangers stolen from hotels, I would cook something for me, and warm up a can of dog food for him on the grill. We ate dinner together every night like a religion almost. On good days I would even throw him an entire hot dog, and he would react like a child on Christmas morning.I started doing tattoo conventions, and used to sneak him in and out of those hotels too. Everyone who has ever known me personally, knows Cain. Conversations often started with "how's Cain doing?" as though asking about my child. I welcomed it, preferring to talk about him more than anything....
My biggest fear in life was to lose Cain. My one weakness. My Achilles heel. I convinced myself we would probably die together, since we had learned to live together.
Years rushed by, and I got more involved with pit bull rescue as I saw Cain getting older. It was my fear of his death that pushed me to help other dogs. I wanted him to see that I was trying to do something to pay him back for what he had done for me. Cain had saved my life, and forced me to learn to love and grow. I was the underdog that had achieved victory, I was the sh*t head that was rehabilitated, and it was because of him.
This year we noticed a decline in his physical movement and behavior. Both of his ACL's (knees) gave out and he was too old for surgery, so he continued to hobble around never seeming to notice that the vet said he couldn't walk.
And then I got the worst news of my entire life. Inoperable, terminal, aggressive Cancer.
F*ck. He was going to die, soon. In fact my wife was ready to euthanize him immediately, that day, as to avoid him being in any discomfort. But he was not her dog, he was mine, and I still am a stubborn motherf*cker, as was he, so I figured let's do this sh*t bring on some chemo you pu$$ies.And we fought it, all day every day, pills, injections, stinky milkshakes, Vet trips, vomiting blood, he and I both lost an astronomical amount of weight. I spent every single moment with him, making his stupid meals, making him drink water, mushing up his pills, it was a constant every waking moment kind of experience, and I wish I was still making him a f*cking milkshake right now.
He lived to Christmas! That was amazing, they said he wouldn't. He lived to new years and brought in 2011 with me.
Then one morning, the day before he was supposed to go in for more chemo, and an ultrasound to see if the cancer was affected by all our work, I woke up to him puking all over our bed. There was blood in it. His eyes were different, he was different. Very subtle differences, but I knew, and for the first time so did he. I frantically called a zillion doctors and asked everyone what I should do, but I knew, I just didn't want to accept it. Should I wait for the ultrasound? Even my wife who had been voting for euthanization all of a sudden jumped the fence and said "why not wait till the ultrasound"? My head was swimming, my body was hurting, and he was just laying there looking sad.I called his vet again, and cried my eyes out to the old man on the other end. He was awesome. I was not. I was angry and crying and laid on the floor with Cain for a couple hours. I stopped giving him his medicine and just started giving him whatever he wanted, hot pockets, peanut butter, whatever. He had been on such an insanely strict diet, that I knew he hated, so I decided to blow his diet entirely. I couldn't eat, but he could! He lit up like a f*cking Christmas tree, adding to my confusion, all of a sudden he was all happy and ready to party, but I knew it was temporary. We laid in our puked all over bed together, and cried. He knew something was up, I think he actually was saying goodbye to me. He licked my face a lot, while I cried, and waited up till the very last minute.
I grabbed his travel bed and put it in the car. I was planning on carrying him, but he walked every step of the way to the driveway himself, until the last step. He stopped, and would NOT get in the car. Further f*cking with my head I was unsure of what to do, he did not want to go, and I could see it. That was a first. He has never once hesitated to get in any vehicle ever.
I picked him up and put him in the car. The drive was a difficult one, hard to see from all the rain on the windshield and all the tears in my eyes. I was crying loudly, like an infant, snot was shooting all over the steering wheel. That drive was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Every fiber of my being wanted to go back home or to just drive off a f*cking cliff. I did not want to continue on this path he and I began together without him. And I still don't. I am struggling to accept that this is real.
We continued on, just like we had for so many years, just me and him, in the car. Only this time everything was different, the world felt different, cars looked different, trees blew by, and it was like I was a different person watching a really sad dude have a break down.
I stopped at Hardees, and got a double burger, "just bread and meat" I blurted out, obviously making the drive through people extremely uncomfortable. The people inside the window looked at me in utter disbelief, but said nothing. I paid with a large bill and drove away, completely forgetting about the change. I almost wrecked my car at this point, into an oncoming vehicle, completely by accident, as I started sneaking him hunks of the meat and wiping snot all over my shirt.
The staff was amazing, in fact most of them were crying as well. They know our dogs, hell, we are their best clients. They were extremely somber, but warm. I had to scribble my signature on some paperwork, and got snot all over the paperwork. Then we went back to the private room. I asked them to drug him first "get him high as hell"! I figured he might as well go out with a bang and be all feeling awesome. They injected him with some happy drugs while I gave him more burger, and I cried all over him.
I then spent about 2 minutes alone with him in a room in his travel bed, balling, screaming, whatever. He was high as hell, and happy. Then I went and got the Dr. Leaving him to go out of the room, it dawned on me that this would be the last time that we would ever be alone together. F*cking brutal.
The Dr came in and before I even really knew what happened his eyes went blank, still open, still beautiful, warm deep brown eyes, but almost like a light went out. He died in my arms while I thanked him for sharing his life with me.
I asked the Dr "is he dead"? And the answer was yes. They then left me alone with him for about 15 minutes. I wanted to make sure he was all the way dead, because I don't trust anyone when it comes to Cain. I was petting him and kissing him and thanking him. But he was gone. I stayed to help them make a paw print from his foot, and I helped move him and got his bed and harness and all back.
I don't remember the drive home, or I blocked it out. I walked into an empty, quiet, dark, cold home, with his bed in my arms and collapsed. I started vomiting, and almost drowned on my own vomit, tear, combo. For the first time since I lived in Texas, my home did not feel like home. It took me back to what it was like before Cain, who I was, how I have changed, and how much I owe it all to him.