He's grown some. He's a bit bigger now. This was taken long ago - the day he came to live with us.
He is Sean and Eric's dog - their first dog. Eric and Sean picked him thoughtfully and carefully, working so well together. They loved him well. They love him still.
When Sean and Eric left home for work and school, my brother and his family adopted Charley. We met in a park and shared a meal. Then they said, "Come Charley," and he walked off with them and climbed into their car as though he had known them forever. My heart twinged when Charley never looked back and happily went off with Paul and Cindy, Billy, Greg, and Tommy. And well he should have gone - for they love him - he has found a good second home.
Yet he remembers us - always remembers us - always remembers Eric - always remember Sean - always remembers Tricia. You can tell in his eyes and in the excited way he greets us whenever we see him - which is, not as often as we might like, but often.
Now Charley ails. Seriously ails. An older bigger dog (did I mention that he grew and that the picture is from long ago) he faces health challenges. But come what may, he is loved and he is receiving good care and he will receive good care. And I am grateful to my brother and his family.
As I ponder what may be, tears well in my eyes. I bite my bottom lip to hold them back and memories flood over me. A smile dances in my heart and gently crosses my lips - a smile for Charley - for my sons - for my family - for love that never dies.