Bride's Dying Dog Lived Just Long Enough To Witness Wedding

This Dying Dog Powered Through To See His Human Get Married

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A woman’s beloved dog survives just long enough to be at her wedding

Kelly O’Connell and her 15-year-old dog Charlie Bear had been through a lot together. The veterinarian rescued the twelve-week-old pup from a shopping cart one winter and they’d been inseparable ever since. When he got sick, she was hoping he’d last long enough to be at her wedding to a fellow veterinarian, and somehow Charlie found a way to power through.

Says O’Connell’s wedding photographer, “They really wanted him in the wedding, because that’s the bride’s — that’s like her soul dog.”

According to a heart-wrenching story in the The Washington Post, Kelly hadn’t been looking for a dog when she met Charlie, but ever since she picked him up that winter’s day, she’s never looked back. They’d moved across the country together, from New York State to Colorado, trained for marathons together, and moved in with her now-husband, James Garvin. The two were scheduled to wed this month, but earlier this year Charlie was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It didn’t look good.

“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, because he had had five seizures and we were just like ‘this is too much, I don’t want to do this for him anymore,’” O’Connell said. “Eventually, it was almost as if he was like ‘no I want to see this.’ He got better.”

The black lab mix got just better enough to make it to the ceremony and walk down the aisle, but he wasn’t able to make it back up it, not without help. Than god for family. Kelly’s sister, and maid of honor, picked Charlie Bear up and walked him back.


Charlie is one of five dogs owned by the beautiful couple whose wedding I shot last week. He was his mom’s buddy well before she met her future husband and before she went off to Europe for vet school. Charlie has a brain tumor and is on his last few days of life. He walked around a bunch 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. That was when the bride’s sister said “I am NOT leaving you behind!”, scooped him up, and carried him. He’s 80 lbs. She’s 5’2″. It was one of the most powerful showings of love for family (both her sister and the Charlie dog!) I have seen. Tears. SO MANY tears.

A photo posted by Jen Dziuvenis (@jendzphotography) on

Another shot of the maid of honor carrying sweet Charlie up the aisle. I can’t even handle this.

A photo posted by Jen Dziuvenis (@jendzphotography) on

Jen Dziuvenis, the wedding’s photography, captured the moment and shared her thoughts on her Facebook page. “This is what love looks like,” Dziuvenis said. “Love for family, love for animals, love for your sister. It was just the most touching display of that that I’ve seen, and it was spur of the moment, it just happened, because that’s how these people are.”

O’Connell was beyond grateful for her sister’s act, and for her dog’s presence on her special day, and after he made it back down the aisle, she got down on her knees and hugged Charlie Bear. “I just kept saying, ‘you made it buddy, you made it,’” O’Connell said. “He just had a giant grin on his face.”

The bride had some concern about pushing her dog too far, but is convinced he wanted to make it. “I think despite that feeling though, 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,” she said. “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.”

Charlie was put down a few days after the ceremony, but O’Connell will always have these last special memories of her companion by her side as she starts the next phase of her life. And the pictures of the beloved canine draped in flowers after the ceremony, which she described as “priceless, absolutely priceless” will always be there to remind her of the spectacular effort put forth by her special dog.