Cain, my family’s beloved canine companion of thirteen years, passed away yesterday, his big head resting safely in my dad’s strong hands, his ears filled with the sounds of my mom’s sweet voice, her Georgia cadences comforting him until the very end.

In a family of dogs and dog lovers, Cain stood out to all us, from the very start, as someone special.  I wrote a good bit about him previously, and if you didn’t know him, you might enjoy reading a little bit about his life with us.

Looking back over thirteen years, I thought that Cain had taught me about the importance of never missing a campfire attended by those you love, or perhaps about how to help those you love to grieve: just sit by their sides, and wait.

In recent months, I thought that Cain had taught me about aging, and how to help someone you love keep their dignity even as it tries daily to slip away from them.

But yesterday, after my parents made the heart wrenching decision to end Cain’s pain and put him down, peacefully with the help of our gentle, calm vet, I realized that Cain’s lasting lesson for me will be about loyalty: that dawg just wouldn’t leave us, no matter what.

And that’s what I’ll always remember about our Best Dawg, the one who just wouldn’t leave.

And as hard as the decision was to put him down, despite the fact that on recent mornings I would enter the garage and wish he had passed away quietly in his sleep, saving him pain and us that decision, I’m glad Cain wouldn’t leave.  We got to say goodbye to him, to speak words we were never able to speak to others we’ve loved and lost.

In his last days, we took him truck riding, gave him bites of his favorite chicken off the grill, and sat with him in the grass, watching the sunlight play on Gretchen’s Mirror.

Then we gave him a little face time with Maggie Rose, the only grandchild who will meet Mr. Cain, though he only had eyes for his Mama, as usual.

On his last night, Brother Dear built Cain one last campfire.

And as Mama said, Mr. Cain was born a dog, but died a gentleman.

We’ll miss your kind presence, Mr. Cain.  Thank you for being Best Dawg.

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