Kane. The name conjures different thoughts to different people. To some Kane is a legendary professional wrestler who dominated the WWF in the late 90s. To others, Kane is the creator of Batman who, in the spirit of all great Batman villains, stole all the credit from his partner and Batman co-creator Bill Finger. To my family, Kane was a hero. He saved my life. My mother risked her life to save his. He was our best friend.
Kane was born in my home at the time, an apartment in Portland. I monitored the situation as Kane’s mother, Chloe, brought him and his littermates into the world.
The puppies grew and terrorized the place. We expected if not completely welcomed such behavior. After all, they were puppies. Kane gradually began to separate himself from his siblings. I'd lie on the floor to let the puppies use me as a kind of jungle gym. When something else drew the others’ attention, he would often stay behind to play on me. I guess he felt his role was with me. Soon it became obvious to all that he preferred the company of humans, especially me, over his brothers and sisters.
Chloe was my roommate’s dog. By default, the puppies were hers. It was fun having the little creatures around. They existed in two most prominent states. They were either tearing around playing or sleeping. We were fortunate in that the things they destroyed we could easily live without. They were so much fun we didn’t mind paying the price.
I had no intention of taking one of the pups; however, as the time for them to be adopted got closer, I started to entertain the idea. Looking back maybe Kane captured me the first time he laid across my neck licking my nose and filling my face with puppy smell. There are very few dog people who can resist puppy smell.
I had to do one more thing before my little friend left his mom in favor of me. There was a man in my life at the time. I felt that I couldn’t bring a puppy into our relationship without at least consulting him. So, I convinced him that not only was a puppy a good idea but that it was his idea. In this way, the adorable little 12-week-old pup who had captured my heart became my dog. That’s also how he became “Kane.” I yielded the naming privilege to this guy. It was the final piece of creating the illusion that getting the dog was his idea. The guy thought it was a strong name that most people did not use. Neither of us wanted to yell the dog’s name and have a dozen dogs answer. The guy may have felt that Kane was his, but Kane had claimed me from birth. I am the person who took care of him. He and I knew we bonded for life.
We tell stories.
We tell stories to make sense of our lives.
We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.
We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.
Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students.
From time-to-time we will feature guest writers whom we have invited to contribute to the Transformations series.
Our stories are about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.
— Kathrin Seitz, editor, and Cheryl Durbas, co-editor
"Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there." — Henry Miller
Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheryl Durbas is a freelance personal assistant in the Midcoast area. She can be reached at email@example.com.
It is often said that a dog is man’s best friend. A couple of years passed. I learned that a woman’s best friend is not a man, but her dog. The human relationship died. The guy tried to take possession of Kane demonstrating that he did not appreciate the depth of my connection to Kane. I hired an attorney. No one was going to take Kane from me. I spent an entire year’s worth of savings. It was money well spent. My attorney forced the guy to give up any claim of ownership.
Kane was around me from the time he first opened his eyes. I watched him grow. I held his tiny shaking body when a thunderstorm rolled over. I loved him, and I knew him to be a gentle soul who loved me deeply. It took other people a little time to see him as I did. Kane was a pit-bull.
My mother met Kane very soon after he and I became family. She was not thrilled. This was a feeling shared by others in the household. It was important that they all felt the same way I did about him as soon as possible. Kane was 13 weeks old, just a puppy with all needs of any young creature newly away from mom. I brought him home to meet the family. That first night in what was to him a strange new place he made his way into my mom’s bed. She let him stay. No one wants to hear a puppy cry. She got up during the night to let him out. That night he captured her heart. The rest, as they say, is history. My grandmother trembled when she first met Kane. She was not a person that was new to puppies, just new to pit-bulls. Grandma fell back on a time-proven way to win a puppy’s heart, cheese. Kane loved the stuff. They became fast friends.
I researched pit bulls. All the literature decried the bad reputation the breed acquired over the last few decades. Everything about the breed was consistent, but not unique to pit-bulls. The dog should be trained, given lots of opportunities for early and frequent socialization, and lots of exercise. I made sure Kane went through training at several times in his life. Each dog coach declared Kane to be a great example of what the AKC lists as typical breed characteristics. He was in effect a poster boy for the how a pit-bull should behave. He was kid-friendly, and a wonderful family dog. In fact, like many pit-bulls, he was not that great a watchdog because he loved humans so much. He remained well behaved on or off leash. I had no qualms about taking him anywhere. I couldn’t have asked for a better companion.
We filled our time together with many adventures. Two will stay forever etched into my brain.
One night my house caught fire. I was sound asleep. My sense of hearing is weaker than most. So, though the smoke detector worked perfectly, I simply didn’t hear it and most likely would have died in my bed. Kane and I shared my bed. I couldn’t hear the alarm but he could. He also reacted to the smoke. His urgent barking woke me. Being roused from a sound sleep in a smoke-filled room by a frantic dog can be disorienting. I couldn't see. I was having a hard time breathing. I was terrified. I did the first thing that came to mind. I called my mom. Her voice cut through my screaming, Kane’s barking, and my escalating fear. She said, “Where is Kane?” Huh? He was the big whining, barking animal next to me in bed. Mom said, “Let Kane take you out.” What? She said, “Tell him, Kane, out!! Kane, out!! Hold onto his collar and keep yelling “Kane, out!!!”
Kane got off the bed. With me hanging on to his collar for dear life we crawled on the floor to the bedroom door. It wasn’t hot. I opened it. Kane knew how to get to a door to the outside. He was immensely strong. He darn near dragged me to the outside. A fireman told me if I had been in the house for just 5 minutes longer I wouldn’t have made it. I vividly remember the look on his face when he looked down at Kane and said, “Your dog saved your life.”
As horrifying as that night was it was not the scariest experience I had with Kane. That event happened a couple of years before.
The family, Kane and my human family, were out walking. Kane followed his nose out into a snow-covered, fenced in field. No one thought anything about it until he disappeared before our eyes. It wasn’t a field it was a pond. Kane had fallen through the ice. Stunned, everyone froze in place. Well, everyone but my mom. She instantly went tearing off to the water. She had the presence of mind to lie on the ice spreading out her weight as much as she could. We all watched in disbelief. She reached Kane and grabbed his collar. Just as this happened, we heard a loud crack. We saw Kane fly through the air towards the pond’s edge, simultaneously my mom vanished into the water.
It must have been ten seconds or so, but it felt like a lifetime. My sister and I were screaming. My dad just reached the water's edge when my mom popped up and walked out onto land. While she was soaked and cold, she wasn’t hurt. It was only after all the action was over that she realized what she had done.
When you share so much with another creature, you get to know it emotionally. You can read its body language, its expressions, and its moods. You can tell when it feels great and when the opposite is true.
Anyone who makes a dog part of the family knows at some level that taking the puppy home is the first step to a broken heart. Kane and I grew older together. Last year it became clear the Kane I knew and loved was slipping away. The light in his eyes, eyes that had always shown with so much passion, first dimmed then went out. He became withdrawn. Kane developed a look about him. He seemed at peace. One day we looked at each other, and we reached an understanding. We both knew it was time and he was okay with it.
I couldn’t bear to send him off on his next journey while he laid on a stainless-steel table in a sterile examining room at our vet. The family decided to bring Kane to his favorite place, the beach. We discussed it with our vet. He’s such a compassionate man. He readily agreed to come along.
It was a beautiful day for the beach. Kane walked around a bit sniffing the air. I sat on the sand. In his own time, Kane lay next to me with his head on my lap. The family sat around. Everyone petted and stroked Kane. We all told him how much we loved him and each of us thanked him for all ways he brought joy to our lives. I looked at the family. I looked up at the vet and gave him a slight nod. The vet squatted down and gave Kane a shot sending him into a deep sleep. I kept stroking him. The second shot carried him away. With my hand on his head, I saw him take his last breath and felt his whole body become limp. I leaned over his still warm body cradled him in my arms and let the tears flow uncontrollably.
I eventually became temporarily cried out. I thanked the vet for everything he had done for us.
Kane, the saver of my life, my constant companion, my source of unconditional love, and my best friend is physically no longer. He lives on in my head and my heart. I will always believe that the universe meant for him to be with me from the second he was born. If there is a heaven and I am lucky enough to get there, I know Kane will be waiting.
Mr. Jordan practiced and taught law in different states and universities. He followed a similar path in several branches of geology, engineering, remote sensing and environmental science. When asked about this varied background he only says, "I like school." He and his retriever live in Rockland where he works as a freelance writer and editor. He helps people tell their stories.