She came into my life on the first of May in 2009 as a gift from another great and compassionate animal over, Lindsey Riddlebarger. As with most puppies, Diva was full of life, wonder, and had a pooping cycle that was programmed by the Weather Channel precisely on the "tens." As she grew…and grew…and continued to fill out into her formative years, she finally leveled out at a dainty 115 lbs. As a full blooded Alaskan malamute, she was raised by the older dogs on the farm who all immediately become unwilling step moms. As she struggled with trying to fit puppyhood into maturity, she often failed. There was the summer of her first year where at five months old she followed one of the older dogs into the hills only to become helplessly lost. After a night of angst and worry, it wasn't until the next day that while heading up into the thorny briar patch of vegetation on a four wheeler, God put his hand on my shoulder and finally led me to her.
As she matured, her instincts for simply loving people became incredible. With no training whatsoever, I took her to the nursing facility that my mom had been staying that allowed pet visits. "Diva" would go from room to room resting her head on each patient's bed allowing for a scratch behind the ear and loving dog kisses in return. When you are raised on nothing but pure love, your heart knows no fear. "Diva's" most incredible gift was her unconditional joy and acceptance of everything around her. It was this one quality that I privately feared.
On an unseasonably warm night in early November, the deer and a full moon were at their zenith. "Diva" and I had spent the afternoon napping together before I headed over to some friends for a cook-out at five. As I got ready to leave, "Diva" suddenly bolted for the door and made it outside where her sisters were waiting. With a look of adventure, they all headed toward the back of the farm together. This was the last time I would ever see the unbridled joy of her pink tongue slapping against the side of her head with a dog smile that stretched from ear to ear. When I returned at 9:00 pm, she was gone.
After eight days of trying to find her, the miracles of God were everywhere. My friend Kevin Green, Linda Slone, and many others dropped everything in their own lives to find her as an unprecedented Facebook campaign and hundreds of flyers brought forth a missing dog hunt fueled by nothing but pure human love and compassion. The emotional rollercoaster was non-stop from people who found her, to others who called to inform us of deceased animals that looked like her by the side of the road. The leads, hopes, and fears never stopped.
It was on Monday morning a week after her disappearance that the chill of a call from a voice mail spoke of reality. A lady had called to say that a relative who was hunting about a quarter mile from my farm had seen a white husky dead in the woods. Relating this information to Kevin who was a dog retrieving "Rambo," he brought his four- wheeler to the farm and headed toward the hills. After I arrived home he still hadn't found her so he loaded me on and we headed back. As both of us got to an area described, I suddenly got off. At this point I once again felt God's hand on my shoulder as he had done before. As I walked, I prayed for I knew what I was going to find at the end of my journey. While this time the ending was different he once again sent me into the woods to bring her home.
It's truly amazing the strength that God gives you when you have to perform the hardest tasks for others. As we loaded her onto the ATV for her final ride, it wasn't until after she was prepared for her eternal sleep and laid under her favorite apple tree that we were given the OK to let loose and finally grieve for ourselves. It was a healthy man cry from two people who had grown together as great friends over a week and had so many questions of why a cold and heartless hunter could perpetrate the assassination of such a loving and gentle soul.
It's for this reason that "Diva's" life will continue to live on to save your loved ones. The loss of any pet is devastating whether it's an accident or by natural causes. This site is simply here to warn you as a pet owner that you have the power to avoid the heartache and mystery of a lost dog or cat forever. Please, do not let the ones you love the most get into harm's way by ignoring the fact that there are heartless hunters who will and with intent; kill your family pet!