Dog lovers, beware, you’re probably going to need a tissue for this story. Photos of a 15-year-old dog are going viral after he lived just long enough to see his human get married.
Charlie was found abandoned in a shopping cart when he was just a puppy and was lucky to be found by a loving girl named Kelly O’Connell.
O’Connell told BuzzFeed News she was 19, still living with her parents and going to college when she first met Charlie. “It was the worst time in my life to even attempt to get a dog,” she said.
The two moved to Colorado where she met her soon-to-be husband, just as she was setting off to move overseas.
“[They] met just as she was about to head to Scotland for five years to become a vet,” wedding photographer Jen Dziuvenis said. “He told her to go, he would wait. Five years later they’re both doctors and settled in Colorado with a blended family of three kids, five dogs, and a few cats.”
Those five dogs, including Charlie, took part in the couple’s wedding two weeks ago. Charlie had lived a full life, was now 15 and lived “with people who loved him,” she continued. But he was battling a brain tumor and was in his last days of life.
“He was the central figure to one of the most touching displays of love for family (both human and canine) that I have seen at a wedding,” Dziuvenis said.
She said Charlie walked around with one of the kids before the wedding and used up all his energy.
“He didn’t have any trouble walking down the aisle but when it was time to walk back up it he just couldn’t do it,” she said. “That was when the bride’s sister said ‘I am NOT leaving you behind!’, scooped him up, and carried him.”
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Charlie is 80 pounds and she stands only 5’2″.
“It was one of the most powerful showings of love for family (both her sister and the Charlie dog!) I have seen,” Dziuvenis said. “Tears. So many tears […] There isn’t enough mascara in the world for these moments.”
Dziuvenis said that moment completely wrecked her and she wasn’t alone.
After Charlie made his way back up the aisle, with help from the maid of honor, everyone gathered around him and cried.
“The bride stroked his face and told him how happy she was that he made it,” she said. “The amount of love these people have for their animals is enough to restore anyone’s faith in humanity. These are good people Charlie is one lucky boy.”
Dziuvenis said it is moments like this that reaffirm her love of wedding photography.
“Meeting people during some of the most interesting and important times in their lives and preserving those moments forever is one of the most fulfilling things I do,” she said. “When I first started doing photography professionally I never in a million years thought I’d want to shoot weddings and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Nine days after their wedding, Charlie had to be put to sleep. According to O’Connell, he died peacefully at home, in front of the fireplace and surrounded by his family.
“It was a phenomenal moment,” she said. “It was a phenomenal 15 years. That’s for sure.”
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