Dog saves ailing man’s life

Canine helps healing after severe injuries|

Alongside Adam Dunn, decorated federal Air Marshall and U.S. Coast Guard veteran, are a pair of yellow Labradors. At all times, Reann or Bruno comfort and assist a man who is grateful for life.

It has been a decade since an accident left Dunn pinned between a 75-ton patrol boat and pier. Remnants of the night are evident. Dunn has lost the use of his right arm, has mild brain damage and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder

Acting on a recommendation by his psychotherapist, Dunn sought the companionship of an animal. The search lead Dunn and his wife Wendy to San Rafael, the home of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

From there, a truly amazing story unfolds

Dunn was connected with Reann through the Guide Dogs breeder program. As a breeder dog, Reann is obligated to give birth to puppies, who will be trained through the program. Dogs such as Reann need a home between pregnancies.

In the fall of 2011, the Dunns volunteered to bring Reann home. Since then, Dunn says he owes his life to Guide Dogs and service animals that have become family.

“They are very intuitive animals. They can actually read into you,” Adam said. “For instance, Reann would know if I was stressing out or something was going to happen to me before I did. She would actually walk over and look up at me.”

When Reann left for breeding duties, it became apparent that Adam needed a service animal at all times. Wendy is a flight attendant for a major airline and is frequently away from home. The Dunns’ two children are grown and do not live in Petaluma. In 2013, the Dunn’s adopted Reann’s puppy, Bruno.

Bruno operates in much the same capacity as Reann. Unique to Bruno is size. Dunn fondly calls him an “anchor,” a reference to his large size and sturdiness.

Dunn began to lose his balance and had trouble walking on uneven surfaces. Bruno’s size allows Dunn to remain upright without a cane.

“It is unbelievable unless you work with these dogs and watch them in person,” said Dunn. “It is an amazing thing to see and incredible to be with.”

Contrast exists in comparison to Dunn’s life prior to the accident. A man who since childhood was active, and virtually impervious to pain, eventually became one of the youngest life guards in New York.

Two months after his 18th birthday, Dunn joined the U.S. Coast Guard. “I thought the Coast Guard would be a good program because they had a little of everything that I love,” said Dunn.

Dunn was trained as a rescue swimmer, maritime law enforcement officer and trained with the U.S. Navy SEALS. After his departure from the Coast Guard, the Dunns settled in Petaluma. Dunn became a mechanic for North Bay Boat Center.

In reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Dunn moved to serve his country once more. With his wife a flight attendant, Dunn, 39, Dunn became a U.S. Air Marshall and eventually transferred as a federal harbor patrol agent to the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet.

At midnight Feb. 8, 2005, Dunn sought to flag down an incoming patrol boat, but was tripped by an unseen cleat. The force sent Dunn into Suisun Bay. The incoming vessel did not notice Dunn and crashed, pinning Dunn between the 75-ton vessel and pier.

Dunn was conscious and sought to keep his head from being smashed. The confused patrol boat operator, unaware of Dunn’s plight, left the vessel pinned against the pier.

The force crushed his shoulder, hips and punctured his lungs. Dunn was pinned underneath the water about of four minutes. It was there that Dunn recalled an “out of body experience.” Forty-five minutes passed before the Coast Guard arrived. Dunn was airlifted by to John Muir Medical Center.

Two weeks passed until he left John Muir. A year of therapy, rehabilitation and surgery allowed Dunn to return to Suisun Bay under the same post. Dunn lost the ability to move his right arm in 2009. He developed PTSD and began to suffer from depression.

Guide Dogs for the Blind is instrumental to Dunn’s survival.

(Contact Joshua Gutierrez at

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