We had to say good-bye to our dog, Charlie, this week. Now, Charlie was an amazing dog. He didn't do any especially unique tricks and he didn't fetch my slippers and my daily newspaper. What he did was love us with his whole being.
Charlie came to live with me about 12 years ago. He was roughly six months old. He was found in a neighborhood off the beaten path. A woman opened her door one morning to collect her newspaper and she saw this little puppy laying there. He fussed and cried and as she knelt to pick him up she heard the whines of an older dog coming from the road. It was pouring rain as she started down the drive to find a mama dog with a litter of young puppies shivering in the cold. Charlie was the one that traveled to the door while mama tended to his siblings. While homes were found for the other puppies and mama, Charlie remained with the woman for a few months but for whatever reason decided she could not keep him. I was looking for a companion for my only dog at the time and the fit was perfect.
Charlie was a joyful dog. He had a lively spirit and everyone who met him loved him. I would frequently get asked, "How is Charlie doing?" as if he were my child or spouse. Everyone cared about Charlie.
When I did marry and have children, Charlie accepted each addition with an open heart. He watched over my children as babies and has played with them as young children. He was playful and liked to back talk. If you asked him something he would bark and yap back as if he was giving you a very thoughtful answer.
Three months ago, Charlie was diagnosed with lung cancer and given only 1 to 2 months to live. While we were devastated we sought to make our last bits of time together special. And, Charlie rallied. He started eating; his eyes lit up with that familiar spark. Soon, I began to believe that he had been misdiagnosed. That he didn't have cancer at all.
What I didn't realize was that Charlie was valiantly fighting that dreaded disease everyday. It came to be too much for him and he began to deteriorate rapidly. My husband and I made the most difficult decision to let him go. And, with us by his side, he took his last breath but not before I thanked him for being such a wonderful friend and companion and I told him how much I loved him.
I feel so blessed to have been given the gift of Charlie in my life. He made my world a brighter place and I am grateful for the many memories I have of this most special friend.