Einstein, the dog who played Cain in Red Dead Redemption 2, has died

Einstein, the dog who played Cain in Red Dead Redemption 2
(Image credit: Jason Barnes)

Einstein Barnes, the dog who played Cain in Rockstar's Western epic Red Dead Redemption 2, has died. News of Einstein's passing was shared on Instagram by his owner and coworker, RDR2 animator Jason Barnes.

"Einstein was truly one of a kind," Barnes wrote. "From the moment we met, we formed a deep bond, and it was clear that we were destined for countless adventures together.

"Though our time together has come to an end, your memory will live on forever. Red Dead Redemption 2 may immortalize you as Cain, but it is the memories we created together that truly preserve your spirit. The lessons you taught me about loyalty, love, and living life to the fullest will never be forgotten."

Barnes told PC Gamer that he first encountered Einstein, then named Hero, at a shelter when he was still a puppy. Inspired by Cowboy Bebop and Back to the Future, he renamed him to Einstein—Ein for short—and trained him as a service dog. 

Einstein got involved in the production of Red Dead Redemption 2 after Barnes was promoted from Rockstar San Diego to the New York office. The move was a "big adjustment" for both of them but he was able to bring Einstein to the office every day, where he became known "as being the best dog." His only issue, Barnes said, was that "he would occasionally 'glee pee' when he saw certain members of the team," particularly ingame cinematography director Luke Howard.

When Barnes started working on the RDR2 motion capture set on Long Island, Einstein would often accompany him on the drive out. His turn as Cain began as just a fitting for testing the dog mo-cap suit, but "he was known by all of the actors at this point and because of his service training, he was very used to sitting and waiting patiently which made him a perfect mo-cap dog."

"It started with a few tests and next thing we knew, he was cast as Cain," Barnes said. "I got to work with him on set as his trainer which is such a fond memory. We did some clever stage offset [filming angle] and such to get the stunt of Micah kicking him as well as the ones with Micah chasing him off. He was obsessed with lasers so we often used those to get him to run a specific direction.

"He would often nail every shot, even did a bunch of the movement mo-cap for the basic dog stuff, however his mo-cap time was primarily focused on the Cain moments and performance. He was such a good boy. It's incredible how well he did, even the actors were surprised."

And he is in fact listed in the RDR2 credits:

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Barnes' Instagram post attracted reminiscences from other members of the RDR2 development team. "I remember my first few weeks at Rockstar both you and Einstein made me feel super welcomed and comfortable," one wrote.

"Einstein was a truly special dog, and I'm very grateful to have gotten to share that special mocap time with him, he wore that suit well," another said. "I still show off shots of him to anyone who passes by."

"He’ll be missed," a third added. "Loved working with both of you."

InXile Entertainment, where Barnes is now animation director, also paid tribute to Einstein and his mo-cap abilities.

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Barnes said Einstein “definitely” would have lived into his 20s, but for the onset of cancer. "Everyone thought he was a puppy when I would bring him to the dog parks to play," he said. "He would chase and play with the youngest dogs, up until about 2 months before he passed." Einstein was 13 when he died.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.