Eternally United: A Retired Police Chief and a Loyal Dog Go Together on Their Final Journey of Love and Dedication

Photographs from Daniel’s final years show the devoted dog, Gunner, an 11-year-old lab who rarely left his owner’s side, cuddling beside his bed and curling up on his lap, despite being a 90-pound canine. When Daniel Hove was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his family and friends came together to support the Air Force veteran, now an assistant fire chief, during this trying period. However, the most unwavering source of support was Gunner itself.

Daniel’s daughter Heather Nicoletti told Kare 11 that her parents were “inseparable to the end.” They were “not just friends but hunting buddies who went everywhere together.” So it was not surprising when Daniel’s devoted dog became unwell in his final hours.

His daughter recalled, highlighting the close bond between her father and Gunner, “My dad’s agitation would resonate with the dog’s restlessness, and my dad’s restlessness would reflect in the dog’s behavior.” “When my dad became unresponsive, so did the dog. When we noticed the dog’s declining health and lack of movement, we understood the inevitable.”

Heather described how she knew it was time to make the difficult decision to put Gunner to sleep one day as the elderly dog’s limbs swelled and his listlessness worsened. “I contacted the veterinary clinic where I used to work, and they accommodated me promptly. I rushed him there and had him put to sleep. My dad passed away approximately an hour and a half later,” Heather said.

Heather was devastated to lose her father, a devoted husband and father, a respected member of the community, and a mentor and friend to everyone who knew him, but she took comfort in the knowledge that her father never had to say goodbye to his beloved dog, something that would have been just as painful for Gunner, who could not bear to be apart from his closest human friend.

We knew they would leave this world together; we just did not expect it to happen so soon. “Gunner could not be without my dad,” Heather said. “I believe he chose to go with him.” “I had wondered what would be more traumatic for him,” Heather said. “Taking him away to end his suffering by putting him to sleep, or letting him live through my dad’s passing. Either way, it was going to be devastating for him.”

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