Losing a pet is like losing a piece of your heart. That’s exactly how Sallie Gregory Hammett felt when her seven-year-old Golden retriever Charlie died last month.
The beloved dog succumbed to lymphoma on September 13 after a five-month battle with the disease. Although doctors had warned Sallie that Charlie’s days were numbered, it did nothing to help her cope with the pain of losing him.
The 30-year-old said she cried for about four days straight, so she decided to channel her grief into something else: writing his obituary.
Sallie’s original plan was to publish the memorial in her local newspaper, but the steep cost involved pushed her to create a mock-newspaper obituary instead. Using her background in graphic design, Sallie wrote the poignant essay and made a newspaper-format write-up complete with Charlie’s portrait.
“I wanted to get down all of his quirks,” she told TODAY. “Not that I think I’ll ever forget them, but I wanted to immortalize them and write down every little thing, like him hating stairs and loving peanut butter and all that stuff. I wanted him to be recognized for how important he was to me.”
She shared the touching memorial with her friends and family, and they encouraged her to share it on social media. So, she tweeted it on September 22.
“I wrote my dog an obituary because of course I did. He was the best boy,” she captioned the image.
Sallie described all of Charlie’s special qualities and quirks in the obituary.
“Charlie’s favorite activities were walking, stick collecting, swimming, smiling, and snoozing. Charlie loved everything life had to offer (except stairs. He hated stairs). Charlie loved the beach, car rides, bananas, and socks.”
Despite his many passions, Sallie knew what Charlie’s greatest love was: her.
“More than anything else, Charlie loved his mom. He was always there to greet her with some kisses and a firm grip on her arm. He was her constant companion. There through heartache, moves, grief, and joy. He was good at a lot of things, but he was best at unconditional love.”
Like many dog owners, Sallie considers Charlie as her best friend. She got the dog when she was a 23-year-old single woman who had just moved into Greenville, South Carolina, to start a new job. She took the pup with her everywhere and was a “constant source of comfort and companionship and joy.”
Everyone knew Charlie was a big part of her life. When she would start dating someone, people would ask her if Charlie liked him. But the dog had a big heart; he loved everyone, so it was never the question.
Sallie married her now-husband, David, in May in an intimate backyard ceremony. Of course, her best friend was at the front row to witness the big day.
According to the memorial, Charlie spent his last days playing in his favorite place: the beach.
“He relaxed in the Charlie-sized holes he dug himself, and dove straight into the oncoming waves. His last days were so happy and will be cherished forever.”
Sallie concluded the emotional tribute by reminding everyone to cherish the dogs in their lives.
“He will be forever missed and forever remembered, but he left behind his fierce love, which never wavered. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you give all your pups some extra love in honor of Charlie.”
Her message touched the hearts of dog owners all over the world. Soon after sharing Charlie’s obituary on Twitter, Sallie’s post went viral. So far, it has garnered over 112.7K likes and 11.5K retweets.
Thousands of people sent her message of condolences. Others shared photos of their pets getting extra love or pictures of their deceased pets who will be greeting Charlie in dog heaven. Sallie says these replies have been the best part of Charlie’s obit going viral.
“Reading about everyone else’s special doggos, and all the people that say they loved Charlie even though they never met him. It’s just been so comforting — it makes me feel less alone and just flooded with love,” she told HuffPost. “And Charlie has been so celebrated! He was a special boy and it means the world to me.”
We’re sure that Charlie is up there in dog heaven eating all the peanut butter he can! Let your dogs know that they are loved every day, and share this story to remember this good boy Charlie.