Some dogs and their owners share a special bond that transcends mere companionship. When one Minnesota war military veteran fell ill, his loyal Labrador quickly followed suit.
The two seemed to have an unbreakable bond that would prove to last, even until death.
A dedicated public servant
Daniel Hove had served time in the U.S. Air Force before becoming a firefighter. Selflessly, he had risked his life countless times for others throughout his lifetime.
“He was someone that his department really relied on to innovate, educate, train, and keep up with the new firefighting technique,” his daughter, Heather Nicoletti, told KARE 11 News.
Hove and his dog were inseparable
One of Hove’s steadfast companions in life was his 11-year-old labrador, named Gunner. The two were hardly ever apart, with the dog seeming to have a sixth sense when it came to his owner’s mood.
According to Nicoletti, their bond was truly special.
In 2011, Hove was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Forced to retire from his job as a firefighter, what followed was a battle with cancer, complete with the expected chemotherapy treatments. He was surrounded by his loving family as they did everything to make him more comfortable.
Gunner never left his owner’s side. Day and night, he lay there, always watching over him to make sure Hove was OK. Soon, Nicoletti noticed that Gunner was getting sick too. It was as if the two shared an uncanny connection, which had best been exemplified over their life together.
“When my dad would get agitated, the dog would be agitated, my dad was restless, the dog was restless,” Nicoletti explained. “My dad was unresponsive; the dog was unresponsive. So, once we saw how the dog was doing — he wasn’t moving much anymore, not doing well — we knew, it was coming.”
Hove and Gunner pass away
She noticed that Gunner was nearing the end of his life. Rushing him to the vet, the prognosis was not good. She was saddened when she had to make the hard decision to have him put to sleep.
“I had said I don’t know what’s going to be more traumatic for him: to try to take him away to end … to end his suffering, or if you let him live through dad dying. I think either way it’s going to kill him,” she said.
Later that day, Nicoletti received more tragic news. Her dad had passed away an hour and a half after Gunner. It was almost as if Gunner knew that his owner was on the verge of passing away and had gone on ahead of him.
The family and community remembered Hove in a special way on the day of his funeral. The Burnsville, Oakdale, and Maplewood Fire Departments all drove past his home, sirens blaring, as a show of respect for the selfless veteran. As for Gunner, Nicoletti says everyone will remember the special bond that he and her father shared.
“We knew they were going to go together. We just didn’t know it was going to be hours apart,” she said.
For more on this touching story of Hove and Gunner, watch the video below.
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