Most of those who venture onto this website know the lingering pain of losing a pet, how hard it is to let go of their memory — and how, often, we never do.
Some even know that the author of this website wrote a rather bizarre book about it, looking at the ways we try to hold onto a piece, or more, of our departed pets after they’re gone — in particular the newest and perhaps most outlandish of those, dog cloning.
Instead, most recent portrayals — of services ranging from cloning to freeze-drying – have been formulaic and superficial reality TV-type programs that fail to dig at all, or at least not as deep as the grief they’re focusing on.
So I’m eagerly awaiting, and have high hopes for, a new documentary called “Furever,” scheduled to premier next month as part of the Cleveland International Film Festival.
Director Amy Finkel traveled the country to look at the assorted — some might say sordid – routes we take to memorialize our dogs, or recapture a semblance of the life that once ran through them.
Her stops included a taxidermist in rural Pennsylvania, a religious group in Utah that mummifies pets, and various other parts of the country where entrepreneurs offer everything from jewelry to tattoos, made from the ashes of our dead pets.
She even popped in on Ace and me (though I’m told we don’t appear until the end of the film).
Endings are what the documentary is about, and our refusal, sometimes, to accept them — at least not without a freeze dried statue of our pet, a genetic twin created in a South Korean laboratory, or a trinket or shrine to remember them by.
Sixty-two percent of Americans own pets, spending nearly 53 billion dollars on them annually — most of that, fortunately, while their dog is still alive, but a lot of it, sometimes, after they’re gone.
The avenues they take, while they seem sane and fitting to the pet owners, sometimes strike others as bizarre.
Finkel’s examination, judging from time I spent with her, promises to be a non-judgmental one, and one that I expect , unlike other recent looks at pet preservation, doesn’t feel the need to inject additional melodrama. Often, there’s enough there already — so much that we don’t look beyond the outrageousness to see what we might learn.
“FUREVER is a documentary about the people looking to hang onto the memories of their four-legged loved ones, and the booming trade that is providing services that are an equal amount of creativity, empathy, and opportunity,” Finkel writes on the film’s website.
“FUREVER isn’t just about an industry that provides methods of pet preservation; it is also a study of how the relationship between owner and pet has grown throughout the centuries into a full-fledged family unit. Whether you’re a pet parent yourself, or friends with some, FUREVER gives you an intimate look into the gratitude and grief that goes with loving your pet.”
Amy Finkel earned her B.A. in Theater from Connecticut College and her M.F.A. in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. She lives in Brooklyn and works as a designer, photographer, documentary filmmaker, and writer.
Finkel’s project began almost five years ago, when she read a newspaper article about Mac’s Taxidermy and Freeze-Dry in Loudon, Pa., whose services included freeze-drying and preserving deceased pets — sometimes in part, sometimes in whole. One potential client wanted the ears of a Dalmatian to be preserved, and another brought an amputated dog leg.
From there she moved on to visiting the Summum, a religious group in Utah that mummifies pets, and people.
The film also looks at cloning — now available, for $100,000, in South Korea, at technology being used to turn animals’ ashes into diamonds, and at pet owners who get tattoos with ink that’s mixed with their animals cremated remains. Her brother has gotten several of those, made from the ashes of his pit bull, according to a New York Times article about Finkel’s movie.
“This is about the human-pet bond, and it’s also about mortality,” Finkel said. “We shy away from discourse on death. It’s uncomfortable and stigmatized, but maybe through talking about pets, we can open up the dialogue.”
The documentary will have its premier at Cleveland International Film Festival, with screenings on Thursday, April 11, at 7:20 p.m.; Saturday, April 13, at 3:40 p.m. and Sunday, April 14, at 11:45 a.m.
(Photos by, and courtesy of, Amy Finkel)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: amy finkel, animals, ashes, cleveland international film festival, cloning, cremation, dead, director, documentary, dog, dog inc., dogs, film, freeze dried, furever, ink, jewelry, mac's taxidermy, memorials, movie, mummification, mummified, pet preservation, pets, premier, shrines, stuffed, summum, tattoos, taxidermy
The 7-½-year-old Tibetan terrier had been diagnosed with lymphoma. The former governor’s husband, Bob Eaves, said Zipper died after suffering a stroke.
Zipper and her mother, Dosie, lived in the Executive Mansion in Raleigh during Perdue’s four-year term.
Her death came just a few days after that of Barney, a Scottish terrier — also suffering from lymphoma — belonging to former President George W. Bush.
“When we took her to the Veterinary School at N.C. State, they also diagnosed her with lymphoma,” Eaves told the New Bern Sun Journal. “They gave her only two months to live.”
Zipper surpassed that prognosis by nearly two months.
Over Christmas, Perdue stayed in Raleigh with her ailing dog. She plans to go to Harvard University later this month to teach public policy for the spring semester.
Eaves said Zipper enjoyed a last visit to the Trent River on Tuesday evening.
“She raced out to the river like she had all the energy in the world,” he said. On Wednesday, he said, she was listless and barely moving. “…The vet came and said she wouldn’t make it through the night and he helped her go.”
(Photo: N.C. Cultural Resources Commission)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bev perdue, bob eaves, dead, death, dies, dog, dogs, first dog, governor, lymphoma, new bern, north carolina, pet, pets, stroke, tibetan terrier, zipper
Booger — the heart, soul and sturdy foundation of a streetside act that brought together dog, cat and rat for performances that amused millions (if you count online) — has died.
The 13-year-old dog — a Rottweiler-Labrador mix – died Monday night from kidney and liver failure at a veterinary clinic in her hometown of Telluride, said her owner, Greg Pike.
Pike brought together Booger, a cat named Kitty and a rat named Mousie, taught them to arrange themselves in a pyramid and showed that animals can buck their stereotypes and view each other as more than predator and prey.
The hopeful message behind the act — in which Mousie stood atop Kitty, who stood atop Booger, most often on the west end of Pearl Street in Boulder — was that maybe we humans could do a better job of getting along, too.
It all started off on a bet, though.
Pike began putting the act together soon after he was given Booger as a puppy, according to the Boulder Daily Camera:
One day in a Telluride park, Pike and some others were discussing the limits of what’s possible, and he bet that he could get a dog, cat and rat to get along.
After finding Kitty and her littermates in a box under a house, Pike said he introduced the cat to Booger. They hit it off immediately and were inseparable from that point. Over the years, several different rodents have been used in the act.
Pike didn’t limit his entertaining to Colorado. To counter the sadness he saw in people after 9/11, Pike took the animals across the U.S. He said he enjoyed seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they saw the animals walking around, stacked on one another.
“Everywhere I brought them, they made people smile, and it just made me feel really good inside,” Pike said.
The act appeared on the Animal Planet series “Must Love Cats” and a YouTube video of them has been viewed more than 9.75 million times.
Pike said Booger will be cremated, and in the spring he will climb to the top of Gold Hill in Telluride to spread her ashes.
“I think my eyes are drained. It really hurts,” Pike said Tuesday. “She didn’t die in pain at all. She passed away in comfort in Telluride, where she loved to be.”
Kitty seems to be missing Booger as much as he is, Pike noted.
“I’ve never seen her curl up to me this much.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: act, booger, boulder, cat, colorado, dead, died, dog, dog cat rat, getting along, greg pike, instincts, kitty, mousie, peace, performance, pyramid, rat, stereotypes, street, street performers, telluride, video, you tube, youtube
Here’s an in-depth report out of Canada on the rising concerns about chicken jerky treats from China.
CBC television’s Tom Harrington looks at the lack of pet food regulations in this Marketplace segment, called “Fighting For Fido.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: america, animals, canada, cbc, chicken, china, chinese, dead, dogs, dying, fda, government, health, jerky, marketplace, news, pet food, pets, regulations, regulatory, report, safety, sick, tom harrington, treats
His name was Andre, and he was a miniature Pinscher, found in a knotted black trash bag on the side of a street in Tolleson, Arizona.
A man taking a walk noticed the trash bag was moving, and went to open it up.
Doing so would expose a particularly heinous case of what some humans do to animals, but it would also come to show how very many more humans step forward to help them.
Andre would go on to brighten the lives and bring out the best of all those he came in contact with, though, for him, the darkness continued — even once he was out of the bag. In addition to the other abuse he’d been subjected to, his eyes had apparently been gouged out.
Despite that — despite the cruelty with which one or more humans treated him — he’d continue to show love for the rest of the species, and keep capturing hearts for nearly 10 more months.
It all started with Jan. 3, when Cedric Conwright saw a car pull to the side of the road, and watched as a bag was tossed out the window before it drove away. Conwright approached the knotted trash bag and saw that it was moving. He nudged it with his foot and heard a whimper.
When he opened it, he found a small dog in bad shape. He picked him up and took him home. Two days later he took the dog to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in hopes of getting it medical help.
Euthanasia was discussed, but instead vets opted to perform surgery, removing what was left of his eyes. From there he was taken in by Susy Hopkins, a member of the Feathers Foundation, a Paradise Valley non-profit group associated with the Circle L Animal Sanctuary. The foundation raises money for injured and neglected animals.
Her first stop was another animal hospital, where the first thing vets recommended was euthanasia. Hopkins said no, and asked the vet’s office to do what they could.
In addition to infections where his eyes used to be, Andre was anemic and had diabetes, and under his skin were what appeared to be BB’s from a pellet gun.
Over the next few days, Andre started appearing more lively, and his rescuers went to work trying to raise money for the medical care he had gotten and would need. Within days, $13,000 had poured in. A fundraiser at a downtown Scottsdale pizza restaurant brought in another $3,500.
There was something about Andre that brought out the best in people, Hopkins noted.
“People just wanted to see Andre, to hold him, to hug him,” she said. “And no matter how many people wanted to pet him, Andre never resisted. He was so calm, so gentle. It made me wonder even more why someone would treat him so badly.”
On Feb. 11, a permanent home was found for Andre. Sandy Powers had seen his story on TV. “It was love at first sight,” Powers said. “I had never adopted a rescue dog before, but I knew I wanted to care for this one.”
Andre walked carefully at his new home, several states away, and, though he couldn’t see, did his best to stay at the side of his new mom.
“When I talk or sing a little, he stays right with me on my heels,” said Powers.
He continued to get treatment for his diabetes. Amid other complications, there were some weeks Powers seemed to be making daily visits to the vet.
In recent weeks, his condition took a turn for the worse, and Powers did her best to keep Andre’s many fans informed on his Facebook page.
This week, she announced he had died Saturday. Andre has been cremated and his ashes brought home.
The dog who many were surprised didn’t die eight months ago now has — but not before getting a chance to give and get some love, add a few more chapters to his brave legacy and remind us yet again what being human is all about.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, andre, andre the rescue dog, andrea bocelli, animal cruelty, animals, arizona, blind, cedric conwright, cruelty to animals, dead, death, diabetes, dies, dog, eyes, facebook, gouged, memorial, min pin, miniature pinscher, moving, out, page, pets, phoenix, rescue dog, rescued, sandy powers, tolleson, trash bag
The two-year-old dog died while in the cargo hold of a United fight from New York City to San Francisco.
According to a necropsy by her veterinarian, heat stroke was the cause.
Rizer said both Bea and her other dog, Albert, had been cleared by a veterinarian just four days before she flew home about two weeks ago to California after vacationing on the East Coast.
When Rizer and her husband, businessman Alex Mehran, landed in San Francisco, United workers told them Bea had died. One of them, she says, told her, ”This happens a lot.”
“I was completely hysterical, I’m surprised I didn’t get arrested,” Rizer told the New York Daily News.
Rizer also claims that workers lied to her, saying Bea had been taken for a necropsy when she was actually still in the cargo area.
Bea’s body was given to the family later that day, and an autopsy by a family vet showed she had died of heat stroke, said Rizer, a covergirl who modeled for Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Calvin Klein.
A United spokesperson said the airline has transported more than 550,000 pets, with less than .1% of those resulting in deaths.
“That said, I just want to make it clear this isn’t something we’re not sympathetic to, certainly when it does happen it’s devastating,” spokesperson Mary Ryan said.
United is reviewing the incident, and has returned the $1,800 Rizer paid to transport her dog.
(Photo: Maggie Rizer and Bea, via Twitter)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airlines, animals, bea, cargo, dead, death, dies, dogs, flights, golden retriever, heat, heat stroke, hold, maggie rizer, model, pets, supermodel, united airlines
One of Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis has passed away.
Monty, who was 13, died at Balmoral, the royal family’s Scottish estate, over the weekend, USA Today reported.
Monty appeared with the queen and actor Daniel Craig in a James Bond sketch that opened the London Olympics in July. He was in the news more recently after getting into a fight with a terrier owned by the queen’s granddaughter, Princess Beatrice.
Monty, whose cause of death wasn’t mentioned, once belonged to the queen’s mother, and was named after American horse whisperer Monty Roberts, who has advised the queen on both her horses and her dogs.
All of the queen’s corgis — there have been more than 30 — were descended from Susan, the corgi she received for her 18th birthday from her father, George VI, who got his first corgi in 1933.
Monty is expected to be buried at the pet cemetery at Balmoral started by Queen Victoria in the 19th century.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, balmoral, corgis, dead, dies, dogs, elizabeth, james bond, monty, olympics, pets, queen, queen elizabeth, queen elizabeth II, royal family, royalty, sketch
With Tim Burton’s new, animated, 3-D, full-length version of “Frankenweenie” scheduled to come out in October, we thought you might want to take a look at the original short version.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 30-minute, animals, back to life, dead, death, dogs, film, frankenstein, frankenweenie, full-length, movies, new, original, pets, reanimation, release, resurrection, short, tim burton
A police dog named Serge died of “heat exhaustion” last week after an alarm system failed to alert his handler that the air conditioner had malfunctioned in the car he’d been left in, police in Camden, N.J., said Monday.
“Most of the electrics went out. And the air conditioner, instead of cooling the vehicle, was pulling all the heat from the engine. [The dog] probably went in like 10 minutes,” said Joe Rodriguez, supervising trainer at the Atlantic County K-9 Academy in Egg Harbor Township, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Apparently, both the air conditioner and heat alarm failed, Rodriguez said. Rodriguez who trained the German shepherd and his handler, said the alarm is designed to set off a siren and roll down the vehicle’s windows when the temperature inside rises too high.
The dog was found dead in the vehicle, parked outside police headquarters in downtown Camden. The temperature that day, Thursday, reached a high of 92 degrees.
“We still have much more investigating to do before we determine causes and issue conclusions,” Police Chief Scott Thomson said.
The death of police dogs from heat exhaustion — often while they are waiting in cars — has been an all-too frequent occurence across the country this summer.
“It has been a problem with some law enforcement due to malfunctioning equipment, some of it due to human error,” said Russell Hess, national director of the U.S. Police Canine Association. “We usually hear about it every summer.”
Rodriguez, who trains K-9 officers from all over New Jersey, said he recommends that handlers check their dogs every 20 minutes — even when their vehicles are equipped with heat alarms.
“They’re like anything else. They can be hit or miss,” he said. “You get a false sense of security.”
Serge, not quite two-years-old, joined the Camden police force in January.
“He had already captured a bank robbery suspect and had assisted in several other apprehensions as well,” said Chief Thomson.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air conditioning, animals, camden, car, dead, death, dies, dog, dogs, german shepherd, heat, heat alarm, K-9, k9, malfunction, parked, pets, police, police dog, serge
The dog was on a paddle boat on Duck Lake with her owner, Ashlee Johnson, when a speed boat crashed into them.
Johnson and her younger sister received only cuts and scrapes, but Roxci was thrown from the boat, suffering a severe gash to the head and nearly drowning.
The dog was taken an animal hospital at Michigan State University, where she was kept on a ventilator in hopes she’d recover.
Ashlee, who adopted Roxci — her first dog — from a shelter about two years ago, visited twice a day for a week, and was encouraged when she saw Roxci’s eye twitch, a sign her brain might still be functioning.
“To me, she’s not just a dog,” Johnson, 28, told the Battle Creek Enquirer. “She’s a part of my family and you can’t really put a price on a member of your family.”
After Rocxi passed, Ashlee gathered with the rest of her family at her mother’s home in Battle Creek.
They read poems and the comments of friends and strangers who posted on a Facebook page dedicated to Roxci.
“I know it’s not my fault,” she said, “but I feel kind of responsible. I’m supposed to protect her.”
Through donations, about $1,800 had been raised towards covering Roxci’s medical bills, which could end up costing as much as $10,000.
The family is continuing to accept online donations. They can also be made through the mail (12954 11 Mile Road, Ceresco, MI 49033).
The driver of the speedboat, though sheriff’s department officials said he had been drinking, did not test above the legal limit. He was cited for reckless driving and not having valid registration.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animals, ashlee johnson, bills, boating, care, costs, crash, dead, death, dies, dog, dogs, duck lake, expense, facebook, killed, medical, memories, mixed breed, mutt, paddle boat, pets, remembered, roxci, speedboat, treatment, ventilator, veterinary