We’re a sucker for a happy ending.

By Allaire Nuss
July 21, 2021
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German shorthaired pointer running outside
Credit: EvaHeaven2018 / Shutterstock

For many of us, it's hard to imagine life without our pets. But some people's lives can depend on their precious pooches. Nobody knows this better than 55-year-old veteran David Barlet of Medina County, Ohio. When he lost his support dog, Gunter, he wasn't just heartbroken—he was in potential danger.

Toward the end of his 33-year career in the U.S. Army, Barlet was diagnosed with epilepsy. That's when he learned German shorthaired pointers like Gunter can be trained as seizure alert dogs, Cleveland's WJW reports. These dogs are able to alert their owner before a seizure starts and guide them to a safe landing space like a bed or a couch so they don't collapse.

He and Gunter have a special bond. "I don't know if I've ever been closer with another animal in my life," Barlet told the TV station.

But that bond was threatened when Gunter went missing over this past Fourth of July weekend. On July 3, Barlet's wife had Gunter on a leash outside while neighbors celebrated the holiday with fireworks. Frightened by the noise, Gunter overpowered her, knocking her down as he ran off into the night. 

The Barlets spent the coming days searching for their dog and hanging missing posters. Strangers helped by sharing the posters on social media. 

"We tried to hold it together around people, but in the evening time when it was just us, the house was so full of emotion, between him being missing and the support we saw from the community," Barlet told WJW. 

Two days after Gunter ran away, a local 11-year-old boy heard whimpering in a nearby wooded area. After enlisting his parents to help investigate, the family discovered the missing dog. Gunter's leash was tangled in a small tree, meaning he had likely gone those two days without food or water. 

Barlet's reunion with Gunter was like something out of a movie. Once he stepped out of his car, the beloved companion bolted straight toward his owner. Despite the conditions, Gunter was thankfully in good health, according to Barlet.

Both the Barlets and the surrounding community have expressed deep gratitude toward the young boy for reuniting the veteran with his lost dog. The police chief of Medina as well as pet owners on social media have sung their praises for the child's good deed. 

"Someone that he didn't even know was hurting and was in need, and so he did that," Barlet told WJW. "I tell you I can hardly see the kid without really getting emotional, he's very, very special to us."