The bond between a dog and its owner is one that is unshakeable. And when one Air Force veteran-turned-assistant fire chief, Daniel Hove, first received his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, his friends and family were right there to support him – including his 11-year-old lab, Gunner. Hove’s loyal pooch rarely left his owner’s side.
Unfortunately, the diagnosis took a lot out of Hove during his final years. In fact, there were plenty of pictures of the two cuddled up together, even though Gunner was a 90-pound dog himself. He never strayed from Hove’s side. It was clear that they were inseparable.
As Hove’s daughter, Heather Nicoletti, shared with Kare 11, “They were best buddies till the end. They were hunting buddies, they went everywhere together.”
They were always doing everything with one another, therefore it was no surprise that eventually Gunner fell ill when Hove was in his final days.
Nicoletti recalled her father and Gunner being very in sync, with both of them getting sick together.
She said, “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.”
Then the day that everyone was dreading came. The family knew that it was only a matter of time before they had to let Gunner go be at peace. “I called the vet clinic I used to work at,” she said, “they got me in right away and I rushed him up there, put him to sleep. And about an hour and a half later, my dad was gone too.”
Even though Nicoletti was upset over the loss of her father, she was at least thankful that her father didn’t have to suffer the loss of best friend. Nicoletti believed that the sickness and loss of Hove was what destroyed the dog – since Hove and Gunner could not bear to be away from one another.
“I had said I don’t know what’s going to be more traumatic for him,” she said. “To try to take him away to end–to put him to sleep– to end his suffering, or if you let him live through dad dying. I think either way it’s going to kill him. We knew they were going to go together. We just didn’t know it was going to be hours apart.”
“Gunner could not be without my dad,” Nicoletti added and said. “I think he chose to go with him.”
At least they had each other in their final days. And it must have been a comfort to their family to know that they were together in heaven.