Lessons From Cain

April 17, 2009

Today a typical spring snow storm hits Colorado, cold and blustery with thoughts of summer floating through my head.

Gene Hill wrote, “Nobody can fully understand love unless he’s been owned by a dog.”

My American Bulldog, Cain, came into my life in the summer of 1999 and has owned me ever since!  He was born the runt of the litter, with one blue eye and one eye brown, wrinkles and saggy skin, with a face only a mother could love. Not breed standard by any means!   His health from the very beginning was questionable and he’s spent a good part of his life baffling veterinarians and specialists alike with unusual ailments which they were unable to diagnose, until the spring of 2008.  With a file that has reached the size of a best selling novel, we’ve helped keep them in business while they in turn have helped to keep my best friend by my side.  I’m always being told Cain is lucky to have me, but I know it’s the other way around.

Cain has never done anything amazing in terms of tricks, but in sharing his life with me he has taught me many things and proven just how extraordinary he is.  In short, but certainly not its entirety, it goes something like this…

Love unconditionally, and be forgiving, don’t hold grudges.  Accept praise and don’t make excuses for the way you look!  Be happy and willing to learn.  Never complain about the day but embrace it moment by moment and celebrate it as another opportunity to enjoy life in all of its simplicity. Live life to the fullest and don’t save room for regrets.  Soak up the sun.  Play often and rest.  Enjoy each meal and don’t complain, it’s a good feeling to be full.  Stay faithful to friends and have many, always be happy to see them. Let everyone know that they matter.  Don’t pass judgment; hold no prejudices.  Love pit bulls and all bully breeds!

Another opportunity to play

Another opportunity to play

Greet each new day with a walk and take time to stop along the way. Don’t hurry. Breathe deep and  use every sense you were born with. Don’t take anything for granted. Express your thoughts without a word and listen, even when you don’t understand. Lie next to the one that you love and tell them with a kiss.    Be the bright spot on the other side of the door at the end of the day.  Be happy to be.

Cain was diagnosed with a primary lung tumor in April 2008.  Surgery removed the tumor, but unfortunately a new tumor took it’s place in a neighboring lung lobe and was found in October 2008.  Chemotherapy and alternative therapies have so far proven futile in a fight against an unseen enemy that all too soon will take my friend away. I fight a sadness that has crept quietly into my life and make a vow to spend our time wisely, accepting each new day for the gift that it is.

We bought some time, but what is time?  Time is a wake up call that all things as we know them, eventually comes to an end.  Don’t waste it.  It’s hard to imagine my life without him by my side; he’s been my truest friend.  So in tribute to Cain, I will do my best to live my life moment by moment, with compassion and love, devotion and kindness, knowing I’ve truly been owned by a dog.  To my buddy Cain, my second shadow, thank you for being a part of my life. You will forever own a piece of my heart.