I don’t want to be a downer at Christmas-time, but I was dealt a heartbreaking loss this week. I’ve always mentioned living with my “geriatric dog Charlie” in my biography, but Charlie was never going to be with us forever. We had to put him down this week and now I have a Charlie-sized hole in my life. 

Charlie lived a very long life for a dog (sixteen years and seven months) and was on pain medication at the end. He had “doggy dementia,” was blind in one eye, and got easily lost, confused and scared. The deciding factor was when his back legs kept giving out on him and he had to pull himself around on his front legs. In short, he wasn’t living a happy life and we made the tough decision to let him go before things got worse. It was very hard, but it was the right thing to do for Charlie. 

Charlie was my constant companion and the sweetest dog in the world. (He was also adorable.) They say you get the dog you need and that was true for me with Charlie. He was patient and mild, my protector at all times and he taught me more about unconditional love than any person in my life. He had a quirky personality, sometimes almost seeming human, like my child. My heart aches without him, but I know that life will go on and we will always have fond memories of the many years of joy and entertainment he brought to our life. We loved him almost as much as he loved us. 

If you have a dog, give them an extra cuddle in Charlie’s memory. If you have kids instead, give them a hug and whisper his name. And if you have ever thought you’d want a dog, do it. The years I spent in Charlie’s company have been the best sixteen-plus years of my life.

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