It was a reunion months in the making.
But their time apart didn't diminish their love. If anything, it might have made it stronger.
That was evident during their reunion, as trepidation quickly turned into excitement and even an unexpected kiss.
It was pure, euphoric joy. You could tell by the way his tail was wagging.
Bronx, a 4-year-old Staffordshire terrier mix, was overjoyed to be reunited with his owner, Adam Gibson. And Gibson, who has dramatically changed his life, was doing his best to keep his emotions in check during the public reunion.
The Charleston Animal Society orchestrated getting Gibson and his dog back together Thursday. The group had been taking care of Bronx for nearly four months while Gibson, and his fiancée Michelle Walker, turned around their lives, and now Bronx's.
Not very long ago, they were homeless.
Gibson, Walker, and Bronx lived together in a tent in the woods for a year, abcnews4.com reported.
It wasn't what they planned when they moved to Charleston from Atlanta, but their roommates felt threatened by the dog, which left Gibson and Walker with an unenviable choice — their home or their canine companion, according to postandcourier.com, which reported Gibson said choosing Bronx was "a no-brainer."
They had already been through so much.
Gibson rescued Bronx from a kill shelter in Atlanta, where he only had days to live on the 'urgent' list, abcnews4.com reported.
"I told them when I rescued him from the shelter in Atlanta that I would take care of him and that I wouldn't leave him and that nobody would ever hurt him again," Gibson said, according to the TV station. "I made a commitment to him and myself that I was going to take care of him."
But Gibson was struggling to take care of himself, much less anyone else, while living in the woods.
He said he would forgo eating to ensure Bronx had a meal, but there was little that could be done to tolerate the bitter cold of the winter, including a rare Lowcountry snowstorm in January, according to postandcourier.com.
That was when Gibson decided to try and get back on the right track.
He started by moving into a homeless shelter, but again he was faced with a dilemma, because the homeless shelter would not let Bronx stay.
Enter the Charleston Animal Society.
“We often see homeless people who are struggling to make ends meet, with a pet dog or cat by their side,” said Stacey Denaux, CEO of One-80 Place, on the animal society's Facebook page. “We knew we could help Adam, if we could find a way to keep Bronx safe until Adam was back on his feet.”
So while Gibson received help, he, reluctantly, handed Bronx over to the animal society, according to its Facebook page.
“We saw a person who loved his dog so much that he put his dog’s well-being before his own,” Charleston Animal Society Senior Director of Anti-Cruelty and Outreach Aldwin Roman said on the Facebook post. “It took a lot of trust for Adam to place Bronx in our care, and we were happy to help this family in a time of need.”
According to the animal society, while Gibson was receiving like-skills counseling and assistance in finding a new job and a place to live, Bronx was living at Feline Freedom Sanctuary, where he "lived a tranquil life in his own indoor/outdoor pen among the hundreds of feral cats who call the sanctuary home."
Gibson would call to check in on how Bronx was doing, as he struggled to get back on his feet in a literal sense to, as he broke his legs when he was hit by a car, postandcourier.com reported.
But he and Walker persevered and have lined up jobs and a new pet-friendly apartment, with the help of One-80 Place.
"When I was struggling to make it through an eight-hour shift at work, in the back of my head was, 'I'm doing this for Bronx, for my family, for my fiancée and for us as a family,' " Gibson said, according to abcnews4.com.
The love was clear to see at Thursday's reunion.
"I’ve had animals before, but that boy right there, he’s our heart," said Gibson, postandcourier.com reported.