Lowcountry locals get inked for their animals

They're known as man's best friend, and to commemorate the special relationship between people and their pets, some owners get a tattoo of their furry friend.

Mary Smith, of Summerville, has a tattoo of her deceased dog, Cash, spanning her back.

"I just feel like he's always with me," she says. "I always see that little smiling face."

Cash was just a puppy when he fell ill and died.  Smith believes he either consumed rat poison or was bitten by a snake. Even though she only owned the dog for a short time, Smith says he had made such an impression on her that she wanted to permanently memorialize him on her body.

"I took my favorite picture of him at the beach," she says.  "First, I got his face on my back and then I got the wings around it."

Blu Gorilla Tattoo in Charleston has many artists who've drawn and tattooed such requests.

"I've got artists here that can make a photo look like a tattoo and vice versa – they're just good at what they do," Manager Chad Fishesser says, adding that one client sat for seven hours while getting a tattoo of a pit bull.

"I've seen pet memorial tattoos a lot," he says. "You can type it into the internet and they're all over the place.  It just depends on how good the relationship was between the person and the animal."

Fishesser himself rolled up his sleeve for Sunny – his puppy that died last year.

"I know I was tore up and I didn't want to have just a picture," he says. "I wanted her with me, so I got her [tattooed]."

Smith, meanwhile, says she has plans to shade the remaining wing of her tattoo and also add a lyric from the Green Day song "Time of Your Life."

"For the rest of my life, he'll always be with me in spirit," she says.

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