A Tribute to Diego

For many of us, the dogs who accompany us on the trail are part of the joy of hiking. Seeing the fun they have in the woods — racing back and forth, following intriguing smells, and playing together — adds so much to our hikes. When I first joined Ithaca Hikers, it was great to get out in the woods and make new (human) friends. But as someone who’s always loved dogs and was unable for various reasons have a canine companion, it was a special treat to hike with the dogs who came along with us.

One of the dogs who was always a fixture on our hikes was Roger’s dog Diego, who, sadly, passed away last week. Diego was a sweet, fun, and energetic hiker. Below, hikers share some thoughts and memories of Diego.

If you would like to add your memories of Diego to this post, email them to Nancy H. and I’ll include them here.

Diego, photographed by Katharine
From Jim:

Last week we lost a dedicated member of our hiking family.

Diego has been a regular member of the group over the span of many years, probably longer than anyone else who regularly hikes in the group except Roger himself. Diego was hiking with us as recently as last Sunday in Danby forest; although he was visibly slower that day, he was no less enthusiastic as he followed the group up the FLT from Diane’s Crossing.

Diego was always an eager member of the group on the trail, sometimes too much so; Roger had to wait at hike’s end more than once because Diego had gone off into the woods after one scent or another that caught his interest. Somehow, his free-spirited misdeeds were always forgiven by the next hike, when he would rejoin the group and come up to me in search of the next Milk Bone.

I will miss the little guy.

Diego hoping for a Milk Bone.
From Stephen Hesse:

Susan and I agree that Diego was the most adventurous, enthusiastic, and energetic hiker we ever had in the group, human or canine.  We’re so sorry he’s reached the end of his life.  We think he exemplified the spirit of the group: He just wanted to get out into the woods and see what was happening.

We all know the deep sadness you feel when an animal you love dies.

Jim asked if I had any good photo of Roger and Diego together.  Not that I can recall. Diego was not one to hang around and pose for cute photos with anyone.  He just wanted to get running.  He produced some anxious moments by getting lost, but now I look back on those moments fondly.

Diego and Ruby leading the way.
From Norm:

Each time I met Diego at the start of a hike, I was surprised at how low to the ground he was. I thought of him as bigger. This sort of made sense. He covered a lot of ground compared to us and even compared to the other dogs. And of course he was tough to keep track of — well out of proportion to his mass and his peaceful nature.

It’s fun to be in the field with a wanderer like Diego. Thanks Roger and all who bring their dogs to the hikes and into our minds, whether on or off leash.

From James R.:

Sorry to hear this!  I always enjoyed seeing Diego and his boundless energy, tearing through the woods as we plodded along.  I’m sorry for your loss, Roger.

From Kai:

Diego was always excited for the hikes and certainly seemed to have enjoyed them. He seemed to be a happy and energetic pup. I, like everyone else, will definitely miss him. May he hike and bound around in the next world.

A hiker for all seasons! Photos by Leigh Ann
From Bud:

Diego was a fine hiking companion.  If memory serves, he was a regular part of our group for at least a decade.  In his younger years, his enthusiasm and excitement were overwhelming as the time to start hiking approached.

From Mary W.:

I have long thought of Diego (and his litter mate, Ruby) as seasoned Ithaca Hikers and the dog leaders of the group. Through trail socialization and perhaps some sort of canine osmosis, Diego taught new dog members trail etiquette. He knew to wait until the trail widened before safely passing. He didn’t run on the trails. We didn’t worry that Diego would snap at someone, bump into human hikers, challenge other dogs, or otherwise create concerns for safety. It was all good, except when he’d instinctively run far into the woods and then lose the scent, sound, and sight of the group.

Even so, he had some fun adventures and contributed to the collective stories of the Ithaca Hikers. Thanks for sharing him with us, Roger.  Rest peacefully, Diego.

Diego and friends, photographed by Katharine.
From Eva:

So sorry to hear this. Diego was such a happy, energetic fellow. He will be missed.

We’ll miss you, Diego! (Photo by Katharine)