Buck meets Dave when he joins Francois and Perrault’s dog-sled team, and although his first impression of him is rather lackluster, Dave ultimately teaches him key lessons about determination and pride. Dave is a dog who minds his own business and maintains a rather glum attitude during times of rest, qualities which set him apart from dogs like Spitz who aim to cause trouble whenever the opportunity arises. This mellowness transforms, however, when Dave takes his place in front of the sled with the other dogs. He displays a deep dedication to his job as a sled dog, so much so that he eventually sacrifices his health in order to continue as a part of the team. The significant experience that Dave has makes him a key mentor figure for Buck in the early days of his time working for Francois and Perrault. The fact that Dave is simultaneously unafraid to discipline Buck when he makes mistakes and willing to respect him as a team member reflects his moral conscience. Although he is not the designated leader of the group, Dave displays leadership skills that support Buck’s personal growth and reflect the pride he takes in their work. 

Dave’s pride, however, becomes his fatal flaw as he refuses to retire from the dog-sled team and subsequently dies. The team’s difficult journey back and forth across the Klondike region takes a significant toll on Dave’s health, causing him to struggle with his work. Despite his suffering, he attempts to push on, and this attitude reflects Dave’s unwavering determination to maintain his sense of identity in his final days. Since being a sled dog is so central to Dave’s life, he views retiring from the job as more shameful than death. The dedication that he displays renders his eventual death a particularly noble one as he sacrifices himself out of pride for his work. In many ways, Dave’s act of heroism serves as a point of comparison for Buck’s own journey of self-discovery. Both dogs desire to achieve and maintain a sense of mastery in the lives they lead, each making sacrifices in order to do so. Of course, Dave does not find the same degree of freedom that Buck does in his pursuit of success, and this difference costs him his life. Dave’s journey reflects the limits that Buck would face if he did not continue to seek out an even more empowered identity.