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When Daniel Hove, a former Air Force officer turned assistant fire chief, was stricken with pancreatic cancer, his family and friends flocked to his side. Gunner, Daniel's devoted dog, an 11-year-old lab who rarely left his owner's side, was the most encouraging.

Despite his 90-pound weight, images of Daniel's final years show him cuddling by his human bed and curling up on his lap. Gunner kept himself only a few inches away from whatever was going on.

"They were great friends to the end," Daniel's daughter, Heather Nicoletti, told Kare 11. "They were hunting pals who went everything together."

So it came as no surprise when Daniel's faithful dog became ill while he was lying down.

"When my father got irritated, the dog got excited; when my father became restless, the dog got restless," his daughter stated, describing how her father and Gunner were always in sync. "Both my father and the dog remained silent. We could tell it was coming because of way the dog was acting—he wasn't moving much and wasn't doing well.

Heather realized it was time to put Gunner down as he got increasingly drowsy and his arms swelled. "I phoned the vet clinic where I used to work, and they got me in straight soon," she recalled. "I hurried him up there and put him to sleep." My father left an hour and a half later."

Heather found peace in the idea that her father — a wonderful dad, committed soldier, cherished community member, and devoted mentor and friend to everyone he encountered — never had to say goodbye to his beloved dog. Gunner, who couldn't stand the thought of being apart from his best human companion, would have been similarly distraught by such a separation.

"I'm not sure what's going to be more distressing for him," Heather added. "To attempt to take him away to stop his suffering—put him to sleep—or if you let him live through his father's death." I feel it will kill him in either situation. We had a sense they'd complement each other well. We just didn't understand they were going to be hours apart."

"Gunner could not exist without my father," Heather added. "I suppose he opted to go with him."

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