A note from Diefenbaker's adopted Family:
THE MIGHTY DIEFENBAKER
At more than five and one half feet tall on his haunches, and weighing upwards of 120 lbs, my Alaskan Malamute
was a force to be reckoned with at all times. Full "mask and goggles" facial markings along with his two coats
of fur, and front paws as large as my hands, The Mighty Diefenbaker was a handsome fellow and a sight to see.
He was a rescue, abandoned as a pup, and he lived in the wild for a while before being busted by the animal
police. As best as could be determined, he was about a year old when he and I met for the first time. I
drove over 200 miles to meet him just after he had come into the Alaskan Malamute Rescue Organization of
New England with Jane Palinkas, and I drove those same miles again a week later to bring him home. He was a
scrawny fellow at the time, only 78 lbs, and had lived on his wiles and road kill in the Berkshire Mountains
during that solo time.
We had our days early on when he would try to find his place in the family pack, ignoring the woman of the
house and testing me for the alpha role. We had a number of pretty big tussles back then, but once he learned,
he fit in well and truly, and became my constant companion and forever friend.
We lived for half a year in a log cabin in the woods of Mount Desert Island, Maine, tracking moose, treeing
porcupines, and climbing mountains. We spent whole weekends at a time outdoors together, and of all the
sights I have seen in the world, none made me smile more than watching him run across a field of newly
fallen snow. He was an animal perfectly suited to that environment, and his strength and stamina in the
snow were exceeded by his enthusiasm and his pure joy in the run.
He was a crafty and talented hunter as well, I figure from his days of fending for himself as a young dog.
I saw with my own eyes four birds caught in flight - - three in his jaws, the other with a swipe of his
massive paw. No coyote, squirrel, rabbit, chipmunk or other furry forest creature was safe when The
Mighty Diefenbaker was on the hunt. I would know he had a successive foray when I would find, for instance,
just the tail of a squirrel in the middle of the back yard.
We had fun just sitting on the porch while he survey his territory from atop his chair, and we had fun
running early every morning, usually a couple of miles. He did not like anyone coming near me, and
even when my wife hugged me he would put himself between us and nudge her away. I belonged to him . .
and him alone.
We were on a late afternoon walk one day last year, and a squirrel had made the fatal mistake of
darting out in the road just as we came around a corner. Diefenbaker didn't hesitate, the squirrel
did, and that was that. He turned, and we began a slow trot home so he could enjoy his catch.
As we came around another corner, two large German Shepherds came bounding out of the woods, smelled
the fresh kill in Diefenbaker's mouth, and came menacingly toward us. He turned and looked at me,
although I didn't know whether he was telling me he'd take the one on the right, or was asking me
which one I wanted. He dropped the squirrel and went after the Shepherd to the right, while I went
after the one on the left, catching him with a kick to the nose.
They both got the message and took off back into the woods from which they'd come. He picked up the
squirrel and nonchalantly resumed his slow trot back home. He never ceased to amaze me in all of our time together.
I made two promises to him on our first ride home the day he joined my family - that I would be his
friend forever, and would never permit him to suffer. I kept my word, too. The Mighty Diefenbaker
died peacefully in my arms today, and for the first time in twelve years I am left to make my own way
ahead. I have been dealt a blow of blows, and I am sad beyond measure. Already the world seems a little less bright.
His name, Diefenbaker, was from a television series of the 1990s entitled "Due South." It was the
only show I watched at the time. On it, Canadian Mountie Benton Fraser had a wolf companion - -
Diefenbaker. When my part gray wolf-part Siberian Husky came home with me, it was the only name on the list.
At the end of the final episode of that series, Fraser's voice-over said: "And with Diefenbaker
in the lead, we went off on an adventure." My Dief's gone on ahead to make it safe for us, and
before you know it, I'll catch up with him on that adventure. It's the way of life.
It was wonderful to have run with him in the snow, to have climbed mountains, swim in the ocean,
chase forest creatures, talk with him about life - such a great listener. My forever friend,
my little shadow, my protector. Every dog should have a boy. I was his, and I am a better man for it.