BUENA VISTA - A maid of honor carried a bride's dying dog down the aisle earlier this month in Buena Vista.
Kerry O’Connell’s 15-year-old black lab, ‘Charlie Bear’ was diagnosed with a brain tumor in April.
It was important to O’Connell and her husband, James, that Charlie attend their wedding at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs.
O'Connell didn't think he would make it to the wedding because he had five seizures the week before.
But, the whole week leading up to the wedding, Charlie seemed to be doing really well.
"He had no seizures, he was happy. It was almost as if he wanted to make it too,” said O’Connell. “His body was failing, but he wanted to make it.”
Charlie did make it to the wedding and was in good spirit too.
After the wedding ceremony, however, Charlie was too weak to make it back up the aisle.
So – the bride's sister and maid of honor, Katie Lloyed, scooped up the 80-pound lab and carried him herself.
“I saw my sister carrying him and I guess in that moment, a part of me was like – I can’t believe my sister’s carrying him,” said O’Connell. She’s almost like 5’1” and weighs about as much as he does.”
O’Connell said that in the moment, she was terrified that she had pushed him too far.
“At first I was like, oh-my-gosh what is she doing? And then it was a sucker punch because this dog that had ran 20 miles with me couldn’t walk a few feet,” said O’Connell.
O'Connell adopted Charlie when he was just 12-weeks old. To her, he was more than a dog. “He is a symbol of the coming together of our two families.”
O’Connell said she truly believes Charlie was happy to see her and James come together.
“He had a big grin on his face and James and I just kind of dropped to our knees – kissing him and telling him – you made it you’re here, said O’Connell. “Everybody started crying – it was just a really emotional moment.”
Charlie died just nine days after the wedding.
O’Connell never thought her story would touch so many people the way it has.
“People are remembering their animals that have passed on or they are hugging their pets a little bit tighter,” said O’Connell. “Being a veterinarian – my whole mission in life is to make people realize that these animals mean more to us than we give them credit for.”
She hopes her story gives others license to gush over their pets, grieve their pets or even go out and adopt a pet.
“It meant the world to me to have him there,” said O’Connell. “To look back at those pictures, it just reminds me of the 15 years that I had with him. People can only hope for 15 years with their best friend”
(© 2016 KUSA)