We had to say goodbye Wednesday night to my daughter’s dog Gunnar. She found him December 30,2014 at the side of a busy road on her way home from work. It was nearly dark and he ran from the woods in front of her car. She stopped and scooped him up before he could get hurt, and went door to door, looking for his owner. Not finding anyone, she took him home and took care of him that night, and brought him to the vet the next morning. He was starving, his little tail was frostbitten, and he had a bump on his head and ribs. She thought he might have been hit by a car. After having him checked out at the vet clinic he spent a few days with the dog warden while they searched for his owners. It turns out that an entire litter of puppies had been dumped in the woods and found a week before, on Christmas Eve, but this little guy got away somehow and spent another freezing week alone in the woods. Somehow he survived on his own and escaped becoming dinner for the coyotes. The owners, notorious local dog abusers, were contacted and obviously didn't want him back. Gunnar was able to come home and be her dog after a brief stay with the dog warden.
As time progressed she found out he had a problem with his liver called a shunt. His blood supply was bypassing his liver instead of filtering through his liver properly and started to make him very sick. He wasn’t getting rid of the toxins in his body. She located a specialist in Manhattan and Gunnar had surgery that seemed to fix the problem. He began to grow again and put on weight, and seemed like a normal, happy, healthy young dog. When he outgrew the stent and coils that were blocking off his shunt, he had to go back in for another surgery and his liver problem was permanently fixed once he reached his adult weight. He grew to about 100 pounds. Again, he seemed to be thriving, and even the vets were amazed with how well he was doing.
However, a few months ago he started having seizures and had to be put on medication to control them, with special consideration for his liver. My daughter even took him to a canine neurologist looking for answers, but there really weren’t any. It can be very hard to determine what causes seizures most of the time, and we could only treat them with a specific medication that wouldn't harm his liver. The medication seemed to work for a while, though he soon had occasional seizures again. His dose was increased as the seizures increased in frequency. That didn’t seem to help and the seizures continued. Last Saturday, he had one while he was over my house and it only lasted a few minutes. On this past rainy Tuesday, he went to work with my daughter and had a good day of visiting with his favorite people, playing with his toys, and helping with farm stuff when they got home. That night he suddenly began having nonstop seizures which didn't respond to his medication. We took him to his vet clinic as soon as possible, where they gave him IV phenobarbital, fluids, and Valium to keep him sedated. They took blood and all his liver and other tests came back perfect. They couldn't pinpoint the cause of the seizures.
Unfortunately, even with the heavy doses of IV meds, his seizures never stopped and his condition declined. His blood was no longer clotting and the seizures were constant. My daughter got a call at 9:00 p.m. Weds. night to come down and say her goodbyes to him. There was nothing more they could do for him and he wasn’t going to recover. We still don't really know what happened.
Gunnar is a Nordic name that means "brave fighter." And he certainly was that. He endured a lot in his short life. But despite it all, Gunnar was the sweetest dog we've ever known. He greeted everyone with a smile and a wagging tail. He loved everyone he met, and seemed to make new friends every day. Strangers would bring him toys and treats after meeting him. He stayed with the horses and watched over them, appointing himself guardian of the farm. Some of our horses don’t care much for dogs but they all accepted him--letting him drink from their waterer, lay in their pasture and stalls, and even ruffling his fur with their noses, which he loved. He would sleep in Nate's stall near the end when he was sick, as if he knew Nate needed a friend. My puppy Ginger and Gunnar were inseparable and played all day long whenever she was there, and then they'd both collapse together in a furry pile at the end of the day. Gunnar loved his stuffed lambies and was never far from one to cuddle or play with. He’s got them littered all over the farm with his other toys and all over the house. We will miss his dancing, tail-wagging greeting and smiling face whenever he saw us. Even if we were only gone for a few minutes, he was happy to see us when we came back. He was a dog who wagged his tail even in his sleep when he dreamed, and I hope it meant he had a mostly happy life for the short time he got to spend with us. He certainly brought a lot of happiness to our lives. It won't be the same around here without him. We miss him terribly already. We can't help but feel that Gunnar deserved better than what he got. He was the purest, kindest soul you could ever hope to know. We did our best for him, and he gave his best for us. Life just isn’t fair sometimes and when you lose a Gunnar you lose a little piece of your heart.
Here are some pictures of sweet Gunnar: You will notice he loved his lambies and one was never far away. He had them all over the yard, the house, the office and even brought some over to my house. Gunnar loved to snuggle with his lambies and he was so sweet he would even share them with anyone who would want to play lambie tug of war with him.
|Gunnar the night he was found|
|On his way home from the dog warden's|
|Taking a nap with his first "lambie"|
|Gunnar's snowman Christmas present from the office next door. He loved it!|
|Taking a nap break at the office|
|Gunnar and Ginger meet for the first time|
|" I got him"|
|Gunnar keeping Nate company when he was sick in his stall|
|The Barn Helpers|
|Gunnar and Ginger after his seizure at my house. She lay with him and he held her close with his paw.|
|Gunnar's last day at the office, snuggling with his lambie after lunch.|
|Goodbye Sweet Boy|