Veteran And Loyal Dog Pass Away Within Hours Of Each Other
“We knew they were going to go together."
Emma Shallcross

They say a dog’s love knows no bounds, and that’s certainly the case for this story. When a war veteran from Minnesota became ill, no one could believe it when his faithful Labrador’s health also began to deteriorate. There had always been an unbreakable bond between the pair, and now everybody could see just how close they had been.


Daniel Hove of Burnsville dedicated his life to serving his community.

He started his career in the air force and then became a firefighter. He often risked his life to save others and was truly a selfless man. His daughter, Heather Nicoletti, told Kare 11 News:

“He was someone that his department really relied on to innovate, educate, train and keep up with the new firefighting technique.”

Daniel also had an 11-year-old Labrador called Gunner. The pair were the best of friends and Gunner hardly left Daniel’s side. The clever lab seemed to be able to sense how his owner was feeling and his mood very much depended on that. Their bond was something special.


In 2011, the brave veteran was sadly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He fought hard, but in 2012 he was forced to retire from his job as a firefighter after the strain of going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy became too exhausting.

Daniel was surrounded by loved ones as he battled through his illness. His daughter, Heather, did everything she could for him, but the one person who never left his side was Gunner. Day and night, the faithful lab lay in his own little bed by his owner’s side, always making sure that he was okay.

Gunner was so connected emotionally to Daniel that Heather noticed the pooch beginning to get sick himself. It seemed that however Daniel was feeling, Gunner would feel too. Heather said:

“When my dad would get agitated, the dog would be agitated, my dad was restless, the dog was restless. 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.”


Heart-breakingly, in the midst of her dad’s illness, Heather realized that Gunner was ready to say goodbye.

She rushed him to the vets and he passed away peacefully after she made the 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 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,” Heather said.

Later that same day, Heather received some more devastating news. Her dad was passing away, just an hour and a half after Gunner had gone. It was like the pooch had known that his owner was about to slip away.

Daniel received a beautiful send off. On the day of his funeral, Burnsville Fire, Oakdale Fire, and Maplewood Fire Departments slowly drove past his house with their sirens blaring as a mark of respect. Daniel will forever be remembered, as will the special bond between him and Gunner.

“We knew they were going to go together. We just didn’t know it was going to be hours apart.” Heather said.

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