Daniel Hove received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, which was a tough time for him. However, his family and close friends were there to support him. The most supportive of them all was his loyal dog, Gunner, who had been with him throughout his journey from an Air Force veteran to an assistant fire chief. Gunner didn’t leave Daniel’s side even for a moment during his final years. The photographs of this time depict the 90-pound Labrador snuggling beside Daniel’s bed and curling up on his lap. Gunner made sure that he was always by his owner’s side.
According to Heather Nicoletti, the daughter of Daniel, they were inseparable friends until the very end. Gunner was Daniel’s hunting buddy and constant companion. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone when, as Daniel lay in his final moments, Gunner suddenly became ill as well. Heather recalls how her father and Gunner were always in sync; if Daniel was agitated, Gunner would be too, and if Daniel was unresponsive, so was Gunner. She remembers how they both stopped moving much and how they knew the end was near.
Heather made the difficult decision to put Gunner, her old dog, to rest when she noticed him becoming lethargic and his limbs swelling. After getting an appointment at the vet clinic she used to work at, she rushed him there and had him put to sleep. Sadly, an hour and a half later, Heather’s father passed away as well. Despite being devastated by her loss, Heather found solace in the fact that her dad didn’t have to bid farewell to his beloved pet. Gunner was always inseparable from his best human companion, and separating them would have been too distressing for both. Heather’s father was a loving parent, loyal veteran, and respected community member who mentored and befriended everyone he met.
Heather expressed her thoughts on the traumatic experience that her family had gone through. She mentioned that she was unsure about what would have been more distressing for Gunner, her dog, to either be put to sleep to end his suffering or live through the death of her father. Heather believed that both ways would have been difficult for Gunner. The family had anticipated that her father and Gunner would pass away together, but they did not expect it to happen within a few hours. Heather also shared that Gunner was very close to her father and could not bear to be without him. Hence, she believed that Gunner chose to pass away with her father.