My husband found Charlie when he was about 6 months old, in a field near our home, starving and riddled with fleas and ticks. A few weeks later, we learned that because of a congenital defect, Charlie needed a serious, open-chest surgery, the after-effects of which would necessitate that he eat only liquified food for the rest of his life, but which was the only way to save his life. Through it all, Charlie was always happy (just look at that smile!), playful, and full of joy and boundless energy. His immune system was doubtlessly weakened by his condition, but nothing ever stopped him.
A few years later, Charlie contracted Valley Fever. He was nearly completely incapacitated for 7 months. Once again, though, our Charlie fought, and recovered (although he had to be on medication to control the antibodies - which remained in his system - for the rest of his life). Still, as soon as he was physically able, Charlie smiled, wagged, and got down to playing again!
After Charlie's initial surgery, when he was six months old, we were told not to expect him to live to be six years old.
Last September, when Charlie was nearly 8 years old, he, our other beautiful angel dog, Lucky, and I went out into that same field to play. Charlie jumped into the river to fetch a stick, and when he came back up on shore, he laid down. This was highly unusual, so I ran to his side. My little angel died in my arms.
We will never stop missing Charlie, but the joy, love, and laughter he brought us, together with a supreme lesson in how to carry on through hardship, will never leave us. Our love for him is forever.