At 15 years old, Lab mix Charlie Bear battled a brain tumor. He lived long enough to see his owner get married, then passed away a week later.
The love of a dog can be an incredible blessing. Our dogs take part in some of the major moments of our lives, from moving into a first house to greeting a new baby. When Kelly O'Connell prepared for her wedding, she knew that she wanted her dog, Charlie Bear, to be a part of it. But Charlie Bear had a brain tumor, and there was no knowing if he would live long enough to take part in the wedding.
But sometimes dogs know when something is important. At 15 years old, Charlie Bear had already beaten the odds. He and O'Connell had had 12 good years together; they met when he was brought to the animal shelter where O'Connell was working. She was studying to be a vet at the time, and just knew that she had to bring Charlie Bear home.
Though O'Connell was just 19 at the time, she brought Charlie Bear home and made things work. Later, she met veterinarian James Garvin. They fell in love and began planning their wedding.
O'Connell's happiness was shattered when, last April, Charlie Bear had a seizure during a walk. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and O'Connell knew she likely didn't have much time left with her dog.
O'Connell and Garvin's wedding was to take place on September 1, but during the week before the wedding Charlie Bear had five seizures.
The couple planned to have the dog put to sleep, but he rallied and the seizures stopped. Charlie Bear's ability to walk improved, and he was able to walk down the aisle to meet O'Connell and Garvin at the altar.
The wedding photographer captured some great images of Charlie Bear, who seemed quite happy to be with his people and to be the center of attention.
When he was too tired to walk back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony, O'Connell's sister, Katie Lloyd, stepped up and carried him out. There wasn't a dry eye in the entire audience.
Charlie Bear enjoyed the wedding and was later put to sleep on September 9. He was surrounded by the people he loved and was at home in front of the fireplace. It seems that he held on just for O'Connell's special day.
Sometimes, dogs just understand.
All images: JenDz Photography via Facebook