by Sue
(Youngstown, Ohio)

I only had my Charlie for 16 very short months, but in that time he filled me with such joy and happiness.

I found Charlie at our local pound He was 8 months old at the time and a bit of a handful. I was just finishing up with my cancer treatments and had no thoughts of adopting a dog, but thought I could help walk the dogs. It would be good for both of us.

But then I saw Charlie and my heart melted. He was an owner turn-in, not potty trained and like to escape and run. Charlie was a jack russell mix and I swear he had springs on his back legs. With time and a lot of patience and love, Charlie was house broken, but I just couldn't stop the chasing. My husband and I both knew one day he would get in trouble if we couldn't break that one bad habit.

And he loved toys. Charlie could play for hours with his bobos and his kongs. When he had enough, he would do his 3 circles and lay down, mostly on my lap. If I said "Let's go bye-bye" he would get in his carrier and knew a car ride was coming.

At night when my husband went to bed, Charlie would follow him up, lay with him for about 10 minutes and come back to me to sleep in my lap till I was ready for bed. Then we would both go up and he was always under the covers before I got in bed.

Our biggest fear came true on Veterans day. Charlie was in the fenced-in back yard when my husband came in the back to mow the yard. He told Charlie to stay, which he did till my husband was halfway through the gate, then jumped over the mower and out onto the street. It was over before he knew what had happened.

Charlie was killed instantly but my pain and grief are there every day. I go to bed with tears on my face and wake up the same way. That night after we put Charlie in his favorite blanket I held him for hours, willing him to wake up. My Charlie was gone and so was a big part of my heart.

We buried Charlie out back with his favorite toys, his bed and blanket. My husband is as lost as I am and blames himself, but of course it was no one's fault but mine. I just could not break that one bad habit. All I want now is my Charlie back, but of course that won't happen.

I know that the pain will fade in time and I do find myself smiling at some of the things that Charlie would do but God, how I miss him. He brought light into my life and gave me the will to keep fighting my cancer. The day after Charlie died I got a call from my oncologist to tell me that my last test came back. I am cancer-free. But I would go through it all again if I could have my dog back.

Charlie was only 12 lb. of dog but 1,000 lb. of love. I will always love you, I will always miss you Charlie. I am so sorry for letting you down.

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