Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Snow day.
This is Diefenbaker, or Dief (pronounced Deef) for short. He was my family's first dog. We did everything wrong with him because we didn't know any better.

He was another Australian Shepherd. When we first met him we had no idea what an Australian Shepherd was (uhoh). We saw an ad in a local newspaper (ohno) when we were at our cottage near Lakefield, went out to check out the litter from a pair of farm dogs with no health testing (ohmy). As we were driving up for the first time my mother mutters, "Those are the ugliest dogs I've ever seen."

We met the dam and the dam's sister, and the litter. The farmer suggested we take the tiny ball of fur chilling in the back since "he'd be the type of dog your girls could dress up." We came back a few weeks later to bring him home with us.

Cue 12 wonderful (if a bit clueless) years with this really fabulous dog. Despite doing everything so wrong, things turned out pretty right. He never learned how to walk at heel (we never learned how to teach him, more accurately), he would terrorize our cats, and didn't like other dogs in his personal space. But he was relaxed, very even tempered, and A Very Good Dog.

Dief about 5 months old.
My sister around 10. 
He was unusually laid back, especially for an Aussie. I don't think my family could have handled much more. He was also overweight (which I really regret). He was a deep chested dog with a pretty dramatic tuck-up, so again, due to ignorance and him not looking like a sausage, we thought he was just fine. A few days ago I chatted with a neighbour while out with Cohen and the neighbour remarked how fit Cohen was, and chuckled, "not like Dief!" Man, I didn't think he was that chunky. Oh my. Embarrassing.

The week he died was a strange one. He seemed fine one day, and a bit sick the next. Three days (and three vet visits) later he was put down. During those days I hand fed him his meals since he wouldn't touch them on his own. At first we thought it was discomfort from arthritis (apparently the x-rays showed that his hips were in significantly worse condition than we thought), but there ended up being a deeper, more significant issue.

My dad was out of town, and my mom had died a few years prior, so it was just my sister and I in the vet's office when he went. It was a very surreal, very sad experience. He was sweet and compliant up until the end.

The type of dog the girls could dress up.

He really set the stage for Cohen, who luckily hasn't had to suffer through nearly as much of our ignorance. I sometimes forget what it's like to just have a nice family dog (as opposed to a furry ball of energy who feeds off attention like a vampire). It's really all you need. Everything else is just gravy.

Are we having a good time? 

He's been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I'd share a bit.

The glasses make the man.

It's probably no coincidence that in just about all my favourite photos of Dief he was wearing some sort of article of clothing. He was a funny looking guy.

Dief after an unplanned dip in the lake pre-canoe trip.
Upon showing his prowess in the water we quickly fitted
him with a lifejacket.

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