a tired black lab laying down

Bride’s Dying Dog Was Carried Down The Aisle, And There Wasn’t A Dry Eye

The bond between a pet and its master is usually exceptionally strong. For the dog lovers out there, a pet dog is nothing less than a dear family member. And, like our real family members, we would love to have them with us during our best moments in life. This 2016 story is a shining example of such a connection.[1]

However, the lifespan of dogs and humans is greatly different. As a result, most of the time we are the ones who have to say farewell first. Kelly O’ Connell faced the heartbreaking situation of having to say goodbye to her lifelong pet dog, Charlie Bear. But she was also getting married around the same time.

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Kelly O'Connell getting married, with Charlie Bear on her left.
Image Credits: Jennifer Dziuvenis

So Kelly’s maid of honor, her sister Katie Lloyd, stepped in to make sure the pair got to be together for the special moment.

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The Bride And The Dog

Charlie Bear was a Labrador retriever mix breed who was 15 years old and weighed 80 pounds. Kelly had adopted Charlie from a dog shelter in 2002. Charlie had ended up in the shelter after someone else had abandoned the dog inside a grocery store’s shopping cart.

Kelly aspired to be a veterinarian at the time. She lived in New York at the time and was only 19 years old. So she viewed Charlie as her soul dog. Ever since then, the two have been together. In 2016, Katie was 33 years old. So the pair had been together for nearly half of Katie’s life. The bond was special, to say the least.[2]

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Charlie Bear at the wedding.
Image Credits: Jennifer Dziuvenis

However, in April 2016, doctors diagnosed Charlie with a brain tumor. It was incurable, and the doctors gave the dog only a few more months to live. Katie, who had successfully become a vet, was devastated by the news. But her wedding was coming up in September, and she prayed with all her heart that Charlie would be there at the ceremony.

Charlie, on his part, appeared to know of his master’s wishes. Almost miraculously, as the wedding date approached, his health became stable enough. But there was still a problem.

Read: Devoted Dog Dad Takes Ill Labradoodle On A Final Mountain Hike In A Wheelbarrow To Say Goodbye

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At The Wedding

The ceremony took place at 10,000 feet elevation. Understandably, the condition of the dog made it a tough place to be. When the ceremony had begun, Charlie managed to walk down the aisle on his own. But as the day went on, his body simply could not do it any longer.[3]

James Garvin, Kelly’s husband, and a vet too, knew very well about the deep connection his wife shared with the dog. So did Kelly’s sister, Katie. Katie was the one who came to the rescue. She picked up the 80-pound-dog on her own and made sure Charlie was with his master during the touching moments!

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Katie Lloyd carrying Charlie Bear up the aisle
Image Credits: Jennifer Dziuvenis

Jennifer Dziuvenis, the photographer and a family friend, recalled how touching the moment was:

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Katie is a tiny woman and Charlie was an 80 pound dog (he was up 20 pounds after being put on prednisone). That had to be tough! It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. I think we were all gobsmacked by how touching this moment was. It was very emotional for everyone. I’ve never seen anything like this before as a photographer!

Kelly with Charlie Bear.
Image Credits: Jennifer Dziuvenis

Jennifer said that no one could hold back their tears. Even she had to struggle while she immortalized the moment:

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I was like, ‘I have to keep shooting even though I’m in a puddle of tears behind the camera’. It was a story!

Jennifer’s photos showed the brilliant happiness of the pair during the ceremony. She had shared them on her Facebook page.

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The Final Goodbye

Unfortunately, Charlie Bear went to his eternal sleep only a week later, on September 9th. He was laid to rest in front of the fireplace. His loved ones were all around him at the moment.

James and Kelly, though, are still caring for more foster dogs that the pair have taken into their care. But Charlie was one of a kind. May the gentle soul rest in peace.

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Keep Reading: Annual Festival Honors Dogs For Their Loyalty And Friendship

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Sources

  1. Maid Of Honor Carries Bride’s Dying Dog Down Aisle.” Bustle. Dasha Fayvinova. September 19, 2016.
  2. Maid of honor carries bride’s dying dog down aisle in beautiful ceremony.” Today. Rebekah Lowin. September 20, 2016.
  3. Maid of Honor Carries Family’s Dying Dog Down Aisle for Couple.” ABC News. Nicole Pelletiere. September 16, 2016.
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