In life, Daniel Hove and his dog, Gunner, were inseparable best friends. In death, their bond remained unbroken as the two passed away within hours of each other, both unable to bear a world without the other. Now, they’ll be forever together in the great beyond that awaits us all.
And while Daniel and Gunner’s tale may bring sorrow and tears, it also swells the heart with the wonder only true love can inspire. Though we mourn their loss, those who loved Daniel and Gunner are richer for having known them. We, who will only meet them through their story, are affected because we understand the love between a dog and their person.
A Life Filled with Love
Cancer is an awful disease that has separated too many families. Daniel Hove was one of those ravaged by the disease, receiving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2011. The news was a hard blow to many, as Daniel was much respected in his Minnesota community. A father and grandfather with a wealth of friends and family, Daniel proudly served in the Air Force, where he got his start as a firefighter. And as the Assistant Fire Chief of the Burnsville fire department, he came to be a father and friend to those who worked alongside him.
Daniel’s daughter, Heather, told KARE 11, “He was someone that his department really relied on to innovate, educate, train and keep up with the new firefighting techniques.”
But retirement came in 2012 as his battle with cancer ramped up. Heather shared, “He had Whipple surgery in February of 2012 and then followed that by rounds and rounds and rounds of chemotherapy.”
His his journey would be one that he fought for years, but he had his most golden friend at his side through the entire eight-year ordeal. Even when the battle was done, the two went together into death.
A Man & His Dog
Daniel and his 11-year-old Labrador Gunner were more than just a dog and master. They were best friends. And like his dearest human, Gunner too fell ill.
“When my dad would get agitated, the dog would be agitated, my dad was restless, the dog was restless,” Heather 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.”
And with Daniel declining, Gunner seemed to know it was almost the end. Heather saw that Gunner’s end was near too.
“I called the vet clinic I used to work at, 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.”
Heather worried over how Gunner would handle losing Daniel, explaining, “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 put him to sleep—to end his suffering, or if you let him live through dad dying.”
Either outcome, Heather knew Daniel and Hunter needed to go so the suffering could end.
“We knew they were going to go together. We just didn’t know it was going to be hours apart.”
“They were best buddies till the end,” Heather shared. “They were hunting buddies, they went everywhere together.”
“Gunner could not be without my dad. I think he chose to go with him.”
And though they’re gone from here, Daniel and Gunner are still together and will be forevermore.
Feature Image: screenshot, KARE 11 via Heather Hove