In terms of its story line, White God isn’t too different from any other movie in which the bullied rise up and get even with the bullies.
What makes it different — and makes it shine — is that in this case the bullied are abused and mistreated dogs, a species that already knows (perhaps better and more instinctively than us) that there is strength in numbers.
Perhaps the most talked about scene in the much talked about Hungarian film — winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Prize Un Certain Regard Award and an official selection of Sundance Film Festival — is when a pack of 250 dogs, all mutts, stampede through the streets.
And what makes that scene even more impressive is that it was achieved not through computer graphics, but with dogs.
Director Kornel Mundruczo first issued a casting call for 100 dogs for the scene, then decided bigger would be better. More than 200 dogs ended up being involved, many of them from local animal shelters.
The scene serves as the movie’s climax, and it was a first of its kind achievement for the dog trainers involved.
Under the leadership of Hungarian dog trainer Árpád Halász, a team of humans was able to train the dogs to stampede in a pack in what was, in reality, a massive rush for treats.
One of the dog trainers involved, Teresa Ann Miller — daughter of a trainer who worked on films like Beethoven and Cujo — was interviewed about the movie on NPR this week.
Miller helped cast and train the two dogs who shared the role of Hagen.
The movie’s story begins when a young girl is forced to give up her dog, Hagen, because it is of mixed-breed heritage. Her father, unwilling to pay the fee required to keep a mutt, abandons Hagen in the streets.
Young Lili tries to find him, and Hagen tries to find her, but eventually he joins forces with, and becomes the leader of, hundreds of other abandoned, abused and mistreated dogs living in the streets.
As a pack, they rise up to seek revenge for the indignities they’ve suffered at the hands of humans.
(If the film has one fault, it’s the notion that dogs would seek revenge. They’re better than that.)
Miller told NPR that director Mundruczó wanted the stampede scene to look as real as possible — a goal complicated by the fact that no one has ever seen hundreds of domestic dogs running as a pack.
It was first rehearsed with 100 dogs running together.
Trainer Halász watched and then said, “What about 150?” Miller recounted. “And 150 looked so good that he says, What about 200? And each time Árpád learned, as he acquired the dogs and introduced other dogs into the pack, that it was possible.”
It took four months to prepare for the scene, she added.
“And that was amazing to see; that was fascinating. I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never seen such a large pack of dogs run together. And, quite honestly, I don’t think we’d ever do it here (in the U.S.) just for the time that it takes. It’s so much easier just to CGI it, but the director didn’t want that effect at all.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 30th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, abused, animals, dog, dog training, dogs, entertainment, film, hagen, hungarian, hungary, mistreated, mixed breeds, movies, mutts, neglected, pack, pets, revenge, stampede, streets, trainers, training, white god
A young actress helped save an old dog in New Mexico last week, and Grandpa, as he’s being called, is now resting comfortably at a dog hospice and animal sanctuary that provides elderly animals with acupuncture and other Western and alternative medication.
“His life force is not strong,” said the founder and director of Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary, in (you guessed it, didn’t you?) Santa Fe. “It’s hard to tell how long he’ll be with us.”
The dog — thought to be about 15 years old — had apparently been abandoned at Santa Fe’s Frank Ortiz Dog Park, where actress Rachel Brosnahan came across him last Friday while at the park with her boyfriend and two dogs.
Others at the park had already reported his condition to animal control, but Brosnahan sat with Grandpa until help arrived.
“We thought he was injured because he couldn’t stand up,” said Brosnahan, who stars in the television series Manhattan, which is filmed in the area.
“I think he was in shock,” added Brosnahan, who also appeared in the Netflix series House of Cards. ” He was panting a lot and we brought him some water, but he only drank a little.”
Grandpa seemed to appreciate the company, she said, especially that of her own dogs, including Nicky, a pit-bull mix.
Jennifer Steketee, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter’s director of veterinary services, said staff gave the dehydrated dog IV fluids, and that — other than arthritis and other symptoms associated with his advanced age — he showed no other signs of illness.
The dog was not microchipped and had no tags or other identification.
Because of his age, the shelter contacted Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary.
Pedersen, who met the dog on Tuesday, said Grandpa would be a perfect fit for her sanctuary, which provides eldercare and hospice for dogs, horses and poultry.
Brosnahan, who offered to foster the dog, said she was happy to hear Grandpa would be living the rest of his life there — and that she plans to visit him soon.
“I am so happy he’s going to be cared for at such a wonderful place,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, actress, animals, dog, dog park, dogs, elderly, frank ortiz dog park, grandpa, hospice, house of cards, kindred spirits animal sanctuary, manhattan, pets, rachel brosnahan, sanctuary, santa fe
Apparently that was the case with Boo, a Chihuahua mix who was spotted a couple of weeks ago in a rural area in Sonoma County, California, living inside a hole in a large tree.
A call to Sonoma County Animal Control led Shirley Zindler and other officers to the spot.
It was an area, they say, where people commonly abandon dogs.
It took a few hours, but the small dog was finally coaxed out of the knothole.
The officers named her Boo — after the To Kill A Mockingbird character, Boo Radley, who left gifts for children in an oak tree’s knothole.
Possibly, she picked the hiding place because she was about to deliver a litter of pups. Unfortunately, none survived.
Zindler says Boo is skittish around people and was likely mistreated.
“She thinks the world’s out to get her,” Zindler, who is also the author of The Secret Life of Dog Catchers, told The Huffington Post.
Zindler is caring for Boo now, while seeking a “very, very patient person” to give her a forever home.
Boo’s recovery is being documented on Zindler’s Facebook page,The Secret Life of Dog Catchers.
“She’ll stay with me until the right home is found,” said Zindler, noting it’s not the first time she has taken an unwanted dog home. She has four others.
“I take them home and fix them up so they can find a forever home.”
(Photos by Shirley Zindler)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, adopt, adoptions, animal control, animals, author, boo, boo dogley, boo radley, california, dogs, hiding, hole, home, knothole, officer, pets, pregnant, rescued, shirley zindler, sonoma county, the secret lives of dog catchers, to kill a mockingbird, tree
A Phoenix man apparently left both his couch and his dog behind when he moved away.
The dog, it seems, tried to make the most of things, curling up snugly among its cushions, where a neighbor took this photo and posted it on Facebook. It was posted under the caption,”Anyone want a pitbull? Our neighbors moved out and left their sweet dog here.”
We don’t know if the dog made a choice in the matter — opting to stay with the couch over the heartless owner — but if so, based on his owner’s callous behavior, he made the right choice.
“The gentleman moved out of his home and left his furniture and some garbage on the curb for pickup, and also left his dog,” said Melissa Gable with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.
The home is near 43rd Avenue and Cactus Road.
Gable says the 3-year-old pit bull is doing well, and has been transferred from Animal Care and Control to the Arizona Humane Society.
Both organizations are now receiving calls from across the country from people wanting to adopt him or help him out.
“We have been inundated with calls people from the public, rescue groups, people who want to step forward and help,” Gable told AzFamily.com.
The photo was shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook.
A new family has moved into the home, but they say the dog doesn’t belong to them.
Animal control is sharing information with the Phoenix police, who will determine whether to track down and file cruelty charges against the owner.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandoned, abandonment, animals, couch, cruelty, dog, dog on couch, dogs, facebook, neglect, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, yard
Whether it’s his worried and wrinkly-faced appearance or his sad situation, a shar-pei mix found abandoned at a train station in Scotland, a suitcase at his side, is garnering support, donations and love from around the world — even as his story still unravels.
Now, according to the latest reports, it seems the dog was the subject of an online transaction gone bad.
A woman has stepped forward to say she found the dog for sale online, and made arrangements to pick him up in Ayr, but then went home without him after the dog’s seller slipped away before the deal was done.
After making the train trip from her home in Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, to Ayr, and seeing the dog, she had doubts about whether he was the one advertised, and began wondering if the man selling him had stolen him.
“We had been messaging back and forward for a couple of days about the dog. He was supposed to be a one-year-old and his name was Pluto,” Fin Rayner is quoted as saying in a BBC report.
After meeting the dog in the train station, she asked the seller if she could take the dog for a short walk, so she could see him in the daylight.
The man insisted on a deposit first — of £150. As she walked away, so did he.
“Before I got to the door, I looked back and he was gone — he had disappeared in his car,” she said.
She tried calling him on the phone, she said, and he agreed to come back for the dog. But, after 15 minutes, he still hadn’t showed up.
“I got into the station and the dog wasn’t settling. He was pulling on the lead and peeing everywhere,” she said. ”I thought that it wasn’t my dog — I didn’t want him.”
Rayner said her panic disorder kicked in, and she began worrying that she might get caught with a stolen dog.
Needing to get a train, she informed train station officials the dog didn’t belong to her and that she was leaving him there. She said a station official suggested she tie the dog.
He was picked up and is now in the care of the Scottish SPCA, which hopes to arrange an adoption in the days ahead.
Already, he has received surgery to correct a problem, common to shar-pei’s, in which his eyelashes dig into his eyeballs — all funded by donations from the public, according to the Daily Record.
And he has been featured in a new PETA ad encouraging potential pet owners to be responsible and adopt animals rather than buy them online.
The dog had been advertised on the website Gumtree.
The ad uses the photo of the dog in the train station, and reads, “I’m Kai. I was bought and sold on Gumtree and ended up homeless.”
“When people buy a dog off the Internet, they’re not only funding breeding but also robbing a homeless animal of his or her chance at adoption,” PETA director Mimi Bekhech told the Scotsman. “Unlike animal shelters, breeders don’t screen their buyers or perform home checks, so there’s no way to ensure that the animals are going to good homes or that the new guardians receive an animal companion who’s suitable to their household.”Kai is now the star of a new advertisement, the Scotsman reports.
The man trying to sell the dog has not been identified. The suitcase contained the dog’s pillow, a toy, food bowl and food.
The Scottish SPCA traced a previous owner through the dog’s microchip but were told it was sold in 2013 to someone else.
Since taking the dog in, the SPCA has received offers to adopt him from across the globe. Donations to the Scottish SPCA — which plans to use any excess Kai donations to help rescue other abused, abandoned and injured animals, you can visit this page.
(Photo: Scottish SPCA)
A 9-month-old collie mix found last week in a garbage can in New Stanton, Pa., is now enjoying the things her former owner failed to provide — food, shelter and kindness among them.
She’s less frightened, spunkier and has gained 8 pounds since she was discovered by a garbage truck driver on his route on Oct. 30, with her head sticking out of a trash bag.
State police say the dog’s former owner, Nicole L. Baker, 50, of Hempfield, tortured the dog by withholding food for about six weeks before leaving the dog in the trash can on Oct. 27, when she moved to Texas to be with her boyfriend.
She has been charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and a summary count of disorderly conduct.
Police say text messages sent by Baker indicate her actions went beyond neglect.
“Yeah, I am a bad person,” Baker wrote in a text-message response to a relative’s inquiry about the dog, who she called Mia, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
“By reading through the messages and things of that nature, she had intentionally misled people that were offering to help when it came to taking care of Mia, the dog,” Trooper Stephen Limani said. “She acknowledged the fact that at some point in time, she realized what she was doing, she fully knew it was wrong, and still she put a dog, her dog, in a garbage can,”
Fawna was taken to the Humane Society of Westmoreland County and is now in foster care, TribLive.com reported.
“She’ll grab my hand with her mouth and play,” said veterinary technician Megan Fritz, who is fostering Fawna. “She’s finally starting to act like a dog.”
At first, Fawna was fed beef and rice every three to four hours, then graduated to lamb and rice dog food. She weighed 17 pounds when found, instead of a normal weight of about 50. She’s living with a Great Dane and three cats, and was recently taken on a shopping spree at Burton’s Total Pet in Greensburg, and went home with donated toys, sweaters and treats.
“She needs to feel safe and secure for a little while,” Fritz said. “I’m blown away by the amount of support and love that people are sending her way.”
Among those horrified by the dog’s condition was Baker’s daughter, Brittany Prinkey, who lives next door to the trailer where her mother lived before moving to Texas.
“I’m super upset with her. I just don’t understand how someone could do that,” Prinkey said in an interview with WTAE. ”I was so upset, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was so sick to my stomach about everything. I couldn’t believe it. That garbage can is right over there. I didn’t hear anything. No one heard anything. No one knew. It’s disgusting.”
Prinkey said she seldom sees her mother, and that the dog was healthy when she last saw her in July.
Prinkey said she has been subjected to harassment and threats since the dog was found. ”People have been throwing stuff at my house, at my car, threatening me, telling me I should die. I should be put in a trash bag and left to suffocate without food and water,” she said.
Humane Society officials said it will probably be two months before Fawna becomes eligible for adoption.
Donations to Fawna’s care can be mailed to the Westmoreland Humane Society: PO Box 1552, Greensburg, PA 15601.
(Photos: At top, State Trooper Steve Limani comforts Fawna at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County in Greensburg, by Steph Chambers / Trib Total Media; lower photo from Humane Society of Westmoreland County)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animal cruelty, animals, charged, collie, dog, dogs, emaciated, fawna, found, humane society, mia, mix, new stanton, nicole baker, pennsylvania, pets, pup, puppy, starvation, starved, trash can, westmoreland county
There are plenty of rescue groups that likely do as good a job saving, rehabilitating and re-homing stray dogs as Hope For Paws.
But there is probably none better than that Los Angeles-based non-profit at documenting what they do on video.
Above is their latest rescue video — that of a pit bull, since named Bunny, found abandoned on some government property. Shy, skittish and — even we’d admit — looking a little intimidating, she was lured in with hamburgers and trapped in a crate.
Not until she’s transported to safety and let out of the crate do we get the answer to the question that — in addition to the beautiful camera work — keeps us watching: How is she going to react, close up, with a member of the species that treated her so rudely?
Therein lies the beauty of the Hope For Paws videos, and the beauty of dogs.
Bunny, who apparently experienced little kindness in life — with the exception of one good Samaritan who would drop her off some food while she was living in the wild — doesn’t just give humans a second chance, she becomes an instant, gentle, trusting and tail-wagging friend.
After a few shy sniffs, she was resting her head on the laps of her rescuers.
Bunny is now up for adoption through Sevadog, an Oregon organization that helps dogs find forever homes. Hope For Paws often teams up with other rescues. In Bunny’s case, three were involved, including the group Rescue From the Hart, which notified Hope For Paws about the dog’s situation.
Hope For Paws went to the site, found the dog and got her veterinary care — shooting video the whole time.
The videos, which get millions of views on YouTube, help raise funds for the organization, and melt our hearts in the process. But they also bring attention to the issue of stray and homeless dogs, and remind us that, no matter how rough shape a being might be in, hope and love can conquer all.
The Internet age has seen us all become more adept at touting ourselves — as individuals, as non-profit organizations, as corporations. There are downsides to that. One is how easy it has become to mislead the masses. Another is the danger that we all end up spending 10 percent of our time on a project, and 90 percent of our time touting what we’ve done.
On the other hand, for a non-profit organization, showing the public what it does, in a way that touches the heart, can be a key to survival.
So, all things considered, we hope the Hope For Paws videos keep coming, and we urge you to take at some of the others by clicking the link in this paragraph.
You’ll see some dogs in pretty horrid shape, like this one found living in a landfill, but you’ll also get transported from sad to happy on your way to the final destination — hope.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animal welfare, animals, bunny, documenting, dog, dogs, fundraising, helpless, homeless, hope for paws, internet, los angeles, pets, public relations, rescue, rescue from the hart, rescue videos, rescues, sevadog, shelter, stray, touting, video, videos