Kelly O’Connell’s wedding day will always be special for more reasons than one. On one hand it is the happiest day, the day she married her best friend. In the other hand she had to say ɢᴏᴏᴅʙʏᴇ to a dear companion Charlie. Charlie Bear, a 15-year-old ʙʟᴀᴄᴋ ʟᴀʙ ᴍɪx, who was ᴅɪᴀɢɴᴏsᴇᴅ with a ʙʀᴀɪɴ ᴛᴜᴍᴏʀ five months prior to the ceremony, ʜᴏʙʙʟᴇᴅ ᴅᴏᴡɴ the grassy aisle but was ᴜɴᴀʙʟᴇto stand up and follow his owner after the ceremony began. So, O’Connell’s sister, Katie Lloyd, scooped Charlie up and proceeded ᴅᴏᴡɴ the walkway where she placed him in front of O’Connell and her new husband, James Garvin.
O’Connell, met Charlie Bear when he was just 12 weeks old. After being found ᴀʙᴀɴᴅᴏɴᴇᴅ in a shopping cart outside a grocery store, he was brought to the animal sʜᴇʟᴛᴇʀ where O’Connell was working while studying to be a ᴠᴇᴛᴇʀɪɴᴀʀɪᴀɴ and it was love at first sight. O’Connell said:” I ᴡᴀsɴ’ᴛ looking for a dog. I was only 19 at the time and in ᴠᴇᴛᴇʀɪɴᴀʀʏ technician school and ᴡᴀsɴ’ᴛ looking to be a pet owner. But when I saw him I knew he was my dog and we’d always be together. We had a long history of being single and on our own! Charlie got whatever he wanted. But I couldn’t offer him a family. As soon as I met James and the boys, it was the last thing that I could give him. We were one big happy family. James also has two sons, so I needed to make sure everyone got along with Charlie. Turns out he adored the boys and they adored him.”
Charlie Bear was ᴅɪᴀɢɴᴏsᴇᴅ with a ʙʀᴀɪɴ ᴛᴜᴍᴏʀ last April after having a sᴇɪᴢᴜʀᴇ while on a walk. The ᴘʀᴏɢɴᴏsɪs ᴡᴀsɴ’ᴛ good. One week before the wedding, Charlie had ꜰɪᴠᴇ sᴇɪᴢᴜʀᴇs, and seemed to be sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ quite a bit. O’Connell and Garvin made arrangements for him to be put to sʟᴇᴇᴘ. But, during the week leading up to the wedding, he had ɴᴏ sᴇɪᴢᴜʀᴇs, ɴᴏ ᴛʀᴏᴜʙʟᴇ walking, and ‘seemed like a whole new dog’. O’Connell said:” He was my marathon training partner, he could run 20 miles with me, he absolutely loved it. We were on a run in April when he had his first sᴇɪᴢᴜʀᴇ. Then they discovered the ʙʀᴀɪɴ ᴛᴜᴍᴏʀ. It ʙʀᴏᴋᴇ my ʜᴇᴀʀᴛ, he had ꜰɪᴠᴇ sᴇɪᴢᴜʀᴇs the week before the wedding and we considered ᴘᴜᴛᴛɪɴɢ ʜɪᴍ ᴅᴏᴡɴ, but he seemed to get better, so we waited. And it was worth it to see the happiness on his face that day. He wanted to be there and I’m glad he was.”
O’Connell and Garvin were married on Sept. 1, with Charlie Bear and one of their other five dogs by their side. O’Connell said she ‘ɪᴍᴍᴇᴅɪᴀᴛᴇʟʏ ʙʀᴏᴋᴇ ᴅᴏᴡɴ’ when Charlie Bear walked ᴅᴏᴡɴ the aisle to her. O’Connell said :” James and I just grabbed onto him, and we just kept saying, ‘You made it, buddy, you made it.’ He had the biggest smile on his face that he was there to see me get married. His ʙᴏᴅʏwas ꜰᴀɪʟɪɴɢ ʜɪᴍ, but I could tell he was happy.” Charlie ᴅɪᴇᴅ nine days after Garvin and O’Connell tied the knot.