Then we spotted him. Charlie paused on a sidewalk, stared at us, then spun and raced into a farm implement lot. From there we believe he ducked into the woods and left town.
Always one to come when called, this dog seemed frightened and flustered.
We feared that Charlie recognized his uncertain future. He had been diagnosed months earlier with terminal cancer.
His veterinarian said: "Could be weeks, could be months, could be years."
Still, his tail never, ever stopped wagging.
Maybe Charlie chose our family wedding to find a faraway place to lie down, be done with it and cause no trouble.
But nobody involved in the search -- including several wedding guests and some extraordinary residents of Riverside -- could bear to imagine Charlie dying alone in the creek beds near U.S. 218.
If only he might return home to his two couches, he'd have a second lease on life.
Someone that afternoon told the sheriff's office about a dog pacing the shoulder of the highway, 2 miles east of Riverside. There amid coons and cocklebur, Charlie maybe harbored regrets.
The aroma of Bud's Meat Market near the interchange had to tease him something terrible.