(Photo: Jen Dziuvenis Photography)

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and you want to spend it surrounded by your loved ones — and for many couples, that includes their pets. We’ve heard many stories about couples including their pets in their wedding plans, even making them the “best man.”But one story will truly touch your heart: a cancer-stricken dog who hung on just long enough to accompany his owners down the aisle.

Kelly O’Connell, a veterinarian, was just 19 when she laid eyes on Charlie, a black Lab mix. The dog had been found abandoned in a shopping cart in the middle of winter. While Kelly wasn’t planning on adopting a dog at the time, she knew it was love at first sight.

I’m not sure what it was.’Yeah, this is my dog,’ I just said.”I’m going to take him home,” she told the Denver Channel.

(Photo: Jen Dziuvenis Photography)

Kelly and Charlie became fast friends, and he transformed her life.The owner was inspired to start running by his very active and playful dog.Her dog was so important to her that when she met her future husband, veterinarian James Garvin, one of her main concerns was whether he and his children would get along with Charlie — thankfully, they did.

“He grew to love him just as much as I did,” she told CNN. “[Charlie] was a symbol of the coming together of the family.”

But after 15 years together, Charlie started slowing down. He wasn’t his usual active self, and after he suffered a seizure, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

(Photo: Jen Dziuvenis Photography)

The couple was preparing for their wedding day at the same time.”He had five seizures the week before the wedding, and it broke my heart,” Kelly told People.”We considered euthanizing him, but he seemed to improve, so we waited.”

It was as if Charlie was holding on just long enough to see his owners get married — so when their big day arrived, Charlie was there.

Despite being weak from cancer and near death, Charlie found the strength to walk Kelly and James down the aisle for their vows.

It was an emotional moment for everyone, and Kelly could only think about how proud she was of her beloved dog on her wedding day.”We basically ignored everyone.We just got down on our knees and kept saying, ‘You did it, buddy. You did it.You’ve arrived.’

(Photo: Jen Dziuvenis Photography)

“Everyone was in tears.”Charlie died just nine days after the ceremony, so it turned out to be one of their last memories together.While Kelly was heartbroken to lose her best friend, she was grateful Charlie was able to attend and that their wedding photographer Jen Dziuvenis captured the sweet moments.

(Photo: Jen Dziuvenis Photography)

“Those memories. That moment — I was just happy to have him, for him to be there and for the years I had with him,” she said. “And in the pictures he is smiling.  You can’t deny it. He is smiling.”

“I’ll miss Charlie, he was my best friend,” she told People. “But he’ll never be forgotten. And we’ll always have the wedding photos to remember him by.”



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