MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — A missing dog or cat can cause overwhelming anxiety and fear for any pet owner, and those emotions were magnified for a Northeast Ohio man, who depends on his support dog for his health and wellbeing.
55-year-old David Barlet says his dog Gunter is more than just his best friend.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been closer with another animal in my life,” he said.
Near the end of his 33-year career in the U.S. Army, David was diagnosed with epilepsy and learned that German Shorthaired Pointers like Gunter can eventually be trained to become what’s known as a seizure alert dog.
“Typically, they will alert you before you have a seizure and I don’t know how they do it, but it’s pretty amazing when you see it happen,” said Barlet. “What I’ve seen in the past is that they’ll let you know and they kind of herd you towards a safe place, you know the couch or the bed, or even just get down on the floor, so you don’t fall down.”
On the night of July 3, David’s wife took Gunter for a walk outside their home in Medina County, while neighbors were lighting fireworks.
“You know a lot of fireworks going off at once and he’s spooked and he is so strong that he pulled my wife down and just took off, afraid,” he said.
The couple and their neighbors spent the night looking for Gunter but could not find him.
The next day, complete strangers who found out what happened after missing flyers were posted and shared on social media, joined the search, but there was still no sign of Gunter.
“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,” said Barlet.
Two days after Gunter ran away, an 11-year-old boy, who had taken part in the search, heard an animal whimpering in a wooded area.
He immediately ran and got his parents and sure enough, it was Gunter.
It turns out his leash had become entangled in a small tree, less than a mile from the Barlet home.
“When I got out of the car, Gunter was just racing towards me as fast as he could,” said a relieved Barlet.
He says despite being without food and water for two days, Gunter was in good shape.
According to Barlet, he will be eternally grateful for the quick thinking of the 11-year-old boy, who made sure that his friend and protector made it back home.
“Someone that he didn’t even know was hurting and was in need, and so he did that and I tell you I can hardly see the kid without really getting emotional, he’s very, very special to us,” he said.
The efforts of the boy are also being applauded by scores of pet owners on social media, and by the police chief of Medina, who took part in the search for Gunter.