SCIO, N.Y. — Gunner, a bomb-sniffing dog mustered out of the Marines for canine post-traumatic stress disorder, has found a new home with Deb and Dan Dunham, whose Marine son died in Iraq protecting the men beside him.
With patience and a red-rubber toy, the Dunhams are trying to coax Gunner back to emotional health. With liquid brown eyes and Labrador loyalty, Gunner is giving the Dunhams back a little of what they lost. Together, they are healing what they can and living with what they must.
"My Marine never came home," says Deb. "I have a place for a Marine."
In 2004, during a patrol near the Syrian border, Cpl. Jason Dunham found himself fighting an insurgent hand-to-hand on a dusty road. When two other Marines ran over to help, the Iraqi dropped a hand grenade.
Instead of rolling away, Cpl. Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet, shielding his men.
Though peppered with shrapnel, the other Marines walked away. A grenade fragment penetrated Cpl. Dunham's brain, sending him into a coma.