summer's story | stories from the pack
10-07-219 mins read
9
Storm and his dog, Summer, were finalists in our 2021 Gunner Effect competition. Along with their photo submission they shared their phenomenal journey with us, which we in turn couldn't help but share ourselves. Read the latest installment of a #GunnerDogs story.
Dog Stories
Hunting Stories

Words by Storm Perrella | As Told by GUNNER®

A Life-long Friend

"This is Summer. As cheesy as it may sound, she is my heart and soul. My family welcomed this joy-filled Labrador Retriever into our home as an 8-week-old puppy, and for her 14.5 years of life has been by my side.

I didn’t grow up around hunting whatsoever. Although no one in my family ever had an interest in it, I knew one day I wanted to give Summer the chance to do what she was born to do. At 8 years old, Summer and I spent countless hours training in my grandparents’ backyard pool with a dummy duck and a Costco-sized bucket of beef jerky. At age 10 she retrieved her very first duck. A Redhead at a small lake in Colorado. 

Fast forward to July 2019. Summer developed a rare form of autoimmune disease which attacked her brain. In a matter of hours, Summer went from a happy, life-loving Lab, into basically an unresponsive vegetable. She experienced multiple strokes, crying out in pain, as we rushed her to the best emergency vet clinic in the state...People talk about what it is like in their darkest hour, and let me tell you, these were some of the darkest 3 hours of our lives. As we raced to UC Davis, my wife cradling Summer in the back seat — comforting her as she continued to experience strokes — the thought of losing Summer was creeping further and further into our minds. 

Upon arriving at the emergency clinic, we rushed Summer inside, handing her over to the nurses, and completely broke down. This dog is our life and we were in no way ready to say goodbye... Was that the last time we would ever see her with a heartbeat? Would she remember me? Did I give her everything I could in life? Did we do everything we could to save her? All questions we were not at all prepared to answer...

After a grueling few hours in the waiting area holding it together the best we could and praying harder than we ever had before, we got word that Summer’s vitals had finally become somewhat stable. Tears of joy rushed down our faces. The doctor informed us that there was no current explanation for what happened, and she needed to stay in ICU until she showed signs of improvement. Summer was in ICU for a week, receiving steroids and antibiotics from an IV while the team performed seemingly every test imaginable, yet none were able to determine what was wrong. She lost 15 pounds that week, along with her sight, ability to walk, eat, and relieve herself. We spent many nights praying that the Summer we knew would return.

As awful as this all was, this story does have a happy ending:

Storm's Gunner Effect Submission

 Storm's #GunnerEffect21 submission

God must have been watching over her and hearing our prayers. After that week, she slowly started to show signs of improvement. I still remember the first time I saw her again: she still had no vision and could hardly stand up. She was hooked up to an IV, pressing herself in a corner and crying. I remember saying her name, and according to the vets, for the first time since we arrived, she wagged her tail! She knew I was there. After that, every day was, graciously, a step in the right direction. It was as if God had hit her reset button. 

After about a week and a half, we were finally able to take her home. We were overjoyed, but she wasn’t the Summer we knew before. As her vision returned, she had to relearn to walk. Relearn to eat and drink by herself. She wouldn’t sleep or rest unless we forced her to lay down, holding her until she would calm down. She could not back up and would often fall if we were not there to catch her, which led to us creating a circular pen in the house for her, to keep her from getting stuck in corners as she paced the house, not knowing how to get out.

It took many many months and lots of love, but Summer finally started to heal. Over the next few months, we watched as little things would come back. She started to regain strength, running through the grass chasing the birds. She no longer got stuck in corners or paced anymore. The Summer we knew started to breakthrough! 

Although she got a late start, we are here to make the most of it. After her recovery, I made a promise to her that I would give her the best life and hunting season of her life. So in December of 2019, my wife and I decided we would make the trip of a lifetime to honor Summer’s strength and healing. We sold most of our belongings, moved out of our 4 bedroom home, bought a 20-foot toy hauler, and drove 2000+ miles from our home in California to Arkansas. 

Summer's Story | Stories from the Pack | GUNNER Kennels #GunnerDogs

Our mission was to hunt the legendary flooded timber and give Summer the best season of her life. We landed in a public camping area, bought a boat, and hunted every single day of the 60-day season. I cannot even begin to tell you how incredible of a journey this has been. Over the course of time, God has blessed us with Summer returning 99.8% back to herself. She still has minor health issues that we have to manage, but for the most part our life-loving pup is back. 

We live on the road now, currently in Montana, hunting the rivers, lakes, and fields. It truly blows my mind what she is capable of. A 14.5-year-old retrieving machine who has been through more than she deserves. Her resilience and perseverance inspire me every day. She’s no ribbon-winning, 300-yd blind retrieve kind of dog, but she gives me 110% heart, and that is all I could ever ask for.

To this day I’ll do anything in the world for her. I have learned that if you give your dog the best life, you will live the best life. Anything in this world is possible if you have God on your side, and I truly believe He has been with us for 100% of it. 

I appreciate you taking the time to read this and learn about her incredible journey." — Storm Perella

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Storm Perrella (@stormperrella)

 

Have a great #GunnerDogs story? We'd love to hear it. Drop us a line at info@gunner.com.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Storm Perrella (@stormperrella)

 

Have a great #GunnerDogs story? We'd love to hear it. Drop us a line at info@gunner.com.

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G1™ KENNEL
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GUNNER tie-down straps are used to securely anchor your dog crate to your vehicle and are the only ones that we recommend for 5 Star Crash Test certified safety.  Read why it's important to use GUNNER straps for safe travel. 

Made with an extra-thick custom cambuckle for additional break strength and a synthetic material to ensure you can leave these out 24/7. Now offered in two strap length options to accommodate a greater variety of setups.


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This GUNNER tough-skin insert provides a 3/4” pad of cushion for the crate, as well as waterproof comfort for the sporting dog’s tired joints on the ride home.

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Your dog works hard for you – this fan works hard for your dog. The GUNNER Fan Kit 1.0 is a high-powered device designed to mount easily to the crate, with a stainless steel mounting rod and custom tensions bolts. Built to provide significant ventilation, especially while kennel is stationary. A durable structure, just like our customers are accustomed to.

NOTE: If you're interested in this product, also check out the latest formulation GUNNER Fan Kit 2.0.

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