Colorado veterinarian Kelly O’Connell was preparing to celebrate the happiest day of her life: her wedding day. Aside from a handsome groom, there was someone else whose presence on that day was essential: her beloved dog and best friend, Charlie. She had adopted him when she was 19 years old after the black labrador, then just a young puppy, had been abandoned in a shopping cart in the middle of winter. Since that day, the two have stuck together through thick and thin. But after a happy life with Kelly, Charlie was 15 years old and suffering from a brain tumor. Kelly knew that he didn’t have much longer to live.
“I had actually made an appointment for somebody to come to the house and we were going to put him down a week before the wedding,” Kelly explained. “He had had five seizures and we were just like ‘this is too much, I don’t want to do this for him anymore.’ Eventually, it was almost as if he was like ‘no I want to see this.’ He got better.” And so, on Kelly’s big day, her four-legged friend didn’t leave the bride’s side for a minute and accompanied her down the aisle.
But after the ceremony, the dog was too weak to walk back. Kelly’s sister Katie, serving as maid-of-honor, took the dog in her arms and carried him.
Afterwards, the bride buried her face in his fur and hugged Charlie tight. “You made it buddy, you made it,” she whispered to him over and over. All the guests had tears in their eyes; they knew that this was one of the last moments Kelly would have with her best friend.
A week later, Charlie passed away peacefully. What remains are 15 years of wonderful memories of a loving and gentle dog — as well as these very special wedding photos. Charlie had meant everything to Kelly. He was her world. Looking back on her decision, she said, “When I look at the pictures, especially the one where the flowers are all around him, I just think he looks so happy in those pictures. I just think to myself, despite that feeling of did I push it too far, or did I force him to stay around for this wedding, looking at those makes me think, he just wanted to see that, us come together, and I guess his mom be taken care of.”
Rest in peace, Charlie.