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Longtime NIU husky mascot Diesel dies day after season opener, had lymphoma

DEKALB, Illinois — A Siberian husky named Diesel that for nine years was Northern Illinois University’s mascot has died after a lymphoma diagnosis last month.

The 13-year-old dog died Sunday, a day after attending NIU’s season-opening football game against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“He loved being there with the fans,” says Tom Bonnevier, Diesel’s owner. “He loved NIU football. He was in his element on Saturday, just being with everybody. He just looked so happy.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better last day for him,” says Bonnevier.

The Huskies beat UNLV 38-30.

Diesel was something of a celebrity mascot since appearing on ESPN in 2013 giving a high-five to a cheerleader.

In 2013, diesel was given the title mascot emeritus. The Huskies’ current mascot is named Mission.

Bonnevier says Diesel had difficulty breathing Sunday and was in pain. He took the dog to an emergency veterinarian in Buffalo Grove and says “it was just time.” The dog will be cremated.

NIU athletic director Sean Frazier says Diesel is a part of the team’s tradition and “he’ll never be forgotten.”