The letter was in an envelope addressed to Moe, Doggie Heaven, First Cloud.
Coping with the death of the family beagle, a Norfolk mom encouraged her 3-1/2-year-old son, Luke, to express his feelings in crayon-drawn artworks and letters.
It was Luke’s idea to write to Moe in heaven, and Mary Westbrook said she figured it would be good therapy for her son who, after Moe died at 13, kept asking if and when Moe was coming back.
She’d put each letter, upon completion, in the mailbox, then, after Luke had gone to bed, she’d go out and retrieve them.
But one day she forgot, and the mailman picked it up.
“I figured someone would just throw it away once it got to the post office,” Westbrook told the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.
“It didn’t even have a stamp.”
But last week, a letter from Moe — magically, it seemed — appeared in the Westbrook mailbox:
“I’m in Doggie Heaven,” it said. “I play all day. I am happy. Thank you 4 being my friend.
“I wuv you Luke.”
Postal worker Zina Owens, in her 25 years on the job, had taken the liberty of answering some mail to Santa before, but this was the first time she took on the persona of a deceased family pet, hoping to make a child happy.
Owens, a window clerk, had noticed the letter to Moe on a table at the post office. She opened it and found a card covered in crayon scribbles. With help from the address on the envelope, she was able to read between the lines.
“I felt it in my heart,” she said. “Here was a child who had lost his dog, and any time you love something and it goes away, it hurts.”
So Owens, as Moe, wrote back. Mary Westbrook was touched to find the reassuring letter from Moe in the mailbox and shared it with Luke.
She posted the response on Facebook, saying, “What a beautiful kindness from a stranger.”
Owens says seeing the letter from Luke “made my day … so I wanted to make his. It’s just love, plain and simple.”
“You see so much negativity in the world, so many bad headlines,” she added. “But we’re more than that.”
(Photos: By Bill Tiernan / Virginian-Pilot and courtesy of the Westbrook family)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 15th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beagle, boy, children, coping, crayon, dead, death, dog heaven, doggie heaven, dogs, drawings, grieving, heaven, letter, luke, moe, mourning, norfolk, pets, postal worker, rainbow bridge, virginia, writes
Denali is a short film, but definitely not a “little” one.
Documenting the bond between a nomadic photographer and his dog, it is beautiful and sweeping, both in its photography and in what it says about the human soul, the dog soul, and that “team soul” that often forms when dog and person are thrown together.
Ben Moon and Denali came together in 1999, when he and his girlfriend adopted the dog from a shelter. After breaking up with the girlfriend, Moon and Denali hit the road, traveling around the Pacific Northwest as Moon photographed surfers, rock climbers and other adventurers.
In 2004, Moon was diagnosed with cancer. While in the hospital for surgery and, later, long chemotherapy sessions, nurses permitted Denali to be in the room — and you get the impression neither of them would have allowed it any other way.
Moon beat the cancer, and the pair hit the road again.
More than a few times, in the years that followed, Denali was featured in Moon’s published photography.
In 2014, Denali, at the age of 14, was diagnosed with cancer.
One month later, he was gone.
In Denali’s last weeks, Moon began compiling what would turn into the movie, Denali — his tribute to the dog he’d traveled with, over peaks and valleys both literal and figurative, for nearly 15 years.
A collaboration between Moon, director Ben Knight, and cinematographer Skip Armstrong, the film premiered at 5Point Film Festival, winning both Best of Festival and People’s Choice.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch, and I highly recommend viewing it on your full screen. And given it’s a work aimed at exploring emotions — not tugging at them — you may also watch it with a fully open heart.
It shows us how resilient humans can be, how resilient dogs can be, and how that resiliency — and the joy of life — can reach even greater heights when dog and human bond.
In his eulogy for Denali, Moon noted that, painful as losing him was, it was a time to celebrate.
“…However difficult the transition, it’s cause for reflection and a celebration of how much love and joy this incredible dog brought into my life.
“Thank you Denali for giving me the courage to hit the road with a camera, a van, and no plan back in 2001, for never taking your eye off me through a year of cancer treatments, surgeries and countless other challenges. Thank you for your uncanny ability to walk into a frame at precisely the right moment to elevate an image, for teaching me patience and the joy in the simple quiet moments as I watched you grow older, and most of all, giving selflessly the unconditional love that only a true friend can give. It’s impossible to put into words all that you were and will always be to me — I was always convinced you were more human than dog, and all of the countless lives you touched felt the same.
“Thank you for your unwavering belief in me, happy trails my friend!”
Posted by John Woestendiek June 12th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adventure, animals, ben moon, bond, cancer, celebration, death, denali, documentary, dog, dogs, film, friends, friendship, movie, pets, photographer, photography, tribute
Here’s a public service announcement that takes the story of Hachiko — the Japanese dog who waited at a train station for his master every day for nine years after he died — and gives it what is possibly an even more tear-jerking spin.
“The Man And The Dog” was created by director Rodrigo Garcia Saiz for Fundación Argentina de Transplante Hepático, Argentina’s liver transplant foundation.
It shows a loyal dog who follows the ambulance that takes his owner away to the hospital — not unheard of in real life — and then waits, and waits, and waits.
We won’t say any more than that, so as not to spoil the ending.
Garcia Saiz, who’s been called “one of the world’s leading Spanish language commercial directors” by Ad Week, has directed other hard-hitting PSAs worth viewing, including the distracted-driving spot “Discussion” and the anti-bullying spot “Playground,” according to o the advertising publication Little Black Book Online.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 22nd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ambulance, animals, argentina, death, dog, dogs, fath, foundation, Fundación Argentina de Transplante Hepático, hachiko, hospital, liver, loyalty, organ transplants, pets, psa, public service announcement, rodrigo garcia saiz, tearjerker, transplant, video
Jagger, the Irish setter who died little more than a day after competing at Crufts, was poisoned — but they are now all but certain it was not during the dog show, UK Kennel Club officials say.
Citing reports from independent toxicologists, a Kennel Club spokesperson said Jagger died from meat cubes tainted with two fast acting poisons — carbofuran and aldicarb (both banned insecticides in the EU) that would have led to symptoms and death within a few hours of being consumed.
On top of that, the fact that the meat cubes in his stomach weren’t fully digested indicate he ate the cubes after he returned home to Belgium Friday, March 6, Kennel Club officials said.
All those other unsubstantiated poisonings at Crufts — some media reports alluded to as many as six — were just rumors and were found to have no basis, according to The Guardian.
Jagger, who competed under the name Thendara Satisfaction, won second place in his category. He died between 24 and 48 hours after leaving Crufts.
The Kennel Club’s secretary, Caroline Kisko, said the report shows it was “inconceivable” that Jagger could have been poisoned while at the dog show.
“Considering we are told that Jagger showed the first clinical signs usually associated with these two poisons shortly before his death in Belgium, late on the night of Friday 6 March, leading to the immediate call for veterinary attention, we must conclude that it is inconceivable that he could have been poisoned at Crufts on Thursday 5 March, some 28 to 36 hours earlier.
“There has been a lot of concern about whether the poisoning happened at Crufts and we are now able to reassure all dog-lovers who came to Crufts that this could not have been possible,” she added.
Jagger’s owners, Aleksandra Lauwers, Dee Milligan-Bott and Jeremy Bott believed the dog had been poisoned during the competition.
In a statement they released yesterday, they offered little comment on where else Jagger might have ingested the poison and expressed “disappointment” in the way Crufts officials handled the tragedy.
“We feel we did everything possible to quell the media frenzy that was eager to sensationalise this sad situation,” the owners said.
“We would have welcomed being offered expert advice, from a professional corporation such as the Kennel Club and Crufts organisation, on dealing with the intrusive worldwide media whose only interest in this case was obviously because of the link with Crufts.
“That would have been helpful, rather than the cold, impersonal emails and their own press comments regretting that Jagger had died after the show (and) may have avoided the terrible media circus that ensued.”
(Photo: from Dee Milligan-Bott)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 18th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, belfast, crufts, death, dog shows, dogs, fast acting, healthy, insecticides, jagger, pets, poisoning, poisons, purebreds, results, safety, test, thendara satisfaction, toxcicology
Here’s a song Michael White wrote after losing his dog Max to cancer.
Yes, it might make you cry, but it’s a good kind of cry.
Max was a basset hound-boxer mix and “one heck of a dog,” White says.
White posted the video on YouTube more than a year ago, where it has received a couple of thousand views — further proof that, while moronic videos often rise to the top, what deserves to go viral usually doesn’t.
Thanks, Michael, for bringing it to our attention.
Looks like Max raised a good human.
As prestigious and proper as the world of Crufts is, fear, loathing and backstabbing have never been strangers to the world’s largest dog show.
Murder, however, was — at least until this year.
The death of a competitor — an Irish setter named Thendara Satisfaction, but known as Jagger — is being investigated as just that, after his owners said a necropsy revealed poisoned meat in his stomach.
The three-year-old dog died after returning home to Belgium, the day after he won second place in his class at Crufts.
Some news reports, like this one in the Telegraph, are suggesting, without much to back it up, that a jealous rival dog owner could have been behind it — and owners of Jagger are saying they hope that is not the case.
“We compete week-in, week-out against each other and we have one thing in common, we all love dogs,” said co-owner Dee Milligan-Bott. ”I think and hope it was a random act by someone who hates dogs, an opportunist.”
In either case, the death has shaken up Crufts, UK’s Kennel Club and dog show participants who say that, while dogs shows have never been free of scandal, this could become the darkest one in Cruft’s 100-year history.
“I can’t believe anyone could be so evil or vindictive,” said Gillian Barker-Bell, who judged Irish setters in the competition. “Dogs have been tampered with at other championship shows so this is not a first. But I have never heard of a dog actually dying. What a sick mind to do something like that.”
Sandra Chorley-Newton, another Irish setter judge, called it horrific: “This has shocked the whole dog community. The thought of it being another exhibitor is too awful to contemplate.”
“The Kennel Club is deeply shocked and saddened to hear that Jagger the Irish Setter died some 26 hours after leaving Crufts,” said Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary. “We have spoken to his owners and our heartfelt sympathies go out to them. We understand that the toxicology report is due next week and until that time we cannot know the cause of this tragic incident.”
Police in Belgium are investigating, according to the BBC.
According to the Telegraph report, two others dogs in the competition have taken ill, possibly from poisoning.
Jagger , who was owned by Milligan-Bott and Belgian Aleksandra Lauwers, collapsed and died after returning home to Belgium on Friday.
After celebrating their second place ribbon, Lauwers and her husband returned home with the dog by train.
“I prepared food for the dogs and I called Jagger to come over. He just collapsed and started shaking, it looked like a fit,” Mrs. Lauwers said. “We called our vet immediately. He started having diarrhea and urinating on himself. It looked like a heart attack. He went into a coma a minute later and died. The vet said it looked like poison.”
“It was dark red meat, it looked like beef. Inside there were small colours – white, dark green and black,” she added. “The vet is convinced it is poison, possibly a few different types to make it work more slowly but efficiently. The people in the clinic also suspected it was poison.”
Mr. Lauwers said he believed that Jagger was targeted, saying: “There is no other option, it had to have happened [at Crufts]. How can you mistakenly poison a dog?
“Jagger was such a promising dog. He was just three years old but he was well known around the world. Of course if you are successful, success doesn’t make you a whole lot of friends,” he added.
“I can only hope it wasn’t an act of jealousy by another competitor, but just a lunatic.”
(Photo: Courtesy of Dee Milligan-Bott)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 9th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, belgium, crufts, death, dog show, dog shows, dogs, investigation, irish setter, jagger, jealousy, kennel club, meat, murder, necropsy, pets, poison, poisoned, purebreds, scandal, thendara satisfaction, uk
I would no more stereotype animal lovers than I would pit bulls, and yet I have to ask the question:
Are we an overly gullible lot, more likely to be taken advantage of by greedy and unsavory types?
As a rule, yes. As scammers and schemers have realized, our overflowing empathy and eagerness to help an animal in need often overrule our powers of deductive reasoning, leading us to whip out the checkbook and contribute to some pretty suspicious “causes.”
We are going to use the Grieving Rottweiler as our example here — not to say that the owner of that dog (who is asking dog lovers to help him buy a house so he can rescue more dogs) is a scammer or a schemer, but only because his fundraising drive, as explained by him, is so full of conflicting information, question marks and red flags.
We raised questions about it earlier this week, after Brett Bennett of Seattle posted a video of his Rottweiler, Brutus, appearing to mourn the death of his fellow Rottweiler, Hank. His YouTube post links to an indiegogo page aimed at raising money to buy “a house in the country.”
“Don’t let Hanks passing die in vein (sic )with him,” Bennett asks. Instead, he urges people to give Hank’s death some meaning, and honor the dog’s legacy, by making cash contributions so he can buy a house and some acreage in the country.
The viral video of “Brutus grieving” was nearing 4 million views yesterday.
Between the summary he posted there, his indiegogo page, his Rottweiler rescue website, and what he has posted on his Facebook page (which disappeared the day before yesterday), one has to wonder about what a tangled web he has woven — lie-wise — since he first started trying to raise money through his dogs. (Not to mention how a man who describes himself as homeless can be so active on the Internet.)
That Facebook page included photos of Rottweilers fighting, him recounting a plan to sell his Rottweilers to drug dealers, background information on the dogs that vastly differs from what he has stated elsewhere and this warning to a commenter who questioned his motivations:
“F— off, you tweaker white trash c—.”
Bennett raised over $6000 in January to help him and his dogs find a rental property. Then, a week after Hank died, he started another fundraiser to raise an additional $100,000 to help him purchase a home.
As it turns out, one woman has been raising questions about him for a while — Anne Fromm, who, in an attempt to spread the word about his activities, started this “Social Media Scammer” Facebook page.
It points out some of the many discrepancies in the online accounts Bennett has provided, including in the story of Hank’s death.
“Ask WHY he never took the dog to the vet if it was dying, instead videotaped it, for the tearjerker points and the funds that poured in. Is the dog even dead? Or will he show up miraculously in a few more months when Brett needs more money?”
Fromm points out that Bennett has said the dogs are twins, from the same litter. Yet he has also said one was 2 and one was 4 when he took them in.
Bennett said he awoke to find Hank dead, but he also says, in another account, that he held him in his arms when he was dying.
Mainstream media outlets have carried the video of the “grieving Rottweiler,” and helped catapult it to viral-ness, but none apparently had the time to look into its veracity.
Seattle Dog Spot reported that records from VCA Animal Hospital show Bennett took Hank to be cremated on January 22, but the video of Hank’s death was uploaded on January 20. “What did he do with the body of a 150-pound Rottweiler for 2 days?” the blog asks.
That form also showed an address for the homeless man.
Seattle Dog Spot also reported a text message exchange in which Bennett told someone who was questioning how he spent donated money, “They gave me money and I am using the money to pay off my legal matters and for my everyday bills. I can pretend to spend it on whatever these gullable (sic) people will believe.”
Those are just a few of the disconcerting conflicts in Bennett’s story, all of which anyone with enough time could have found on the Internet.
But, dog lovers being trusting and good-hearted sorts, few did.
Dog lovers tend to believe, and they tend to react, and they tend to want to save, if not the world, at least its dogs — all admirable traits.
Schemers and their schemes, in addition to taking money from them, stand to also take away something even more important — their faith.
Do we need something that protects those so committed to protecting, say a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Lovers?
No, but dog lovers do, unfortunately, need at least a tiny grain of cynicism within, enough to consider the possibility that what on the surface appears to be a worthy cause might not be.
When it comes to fund-raising drives being conducted by individuals, and all we know about those individual comes from what they’ve posted online, we need to exercise due diligence — or at least a little diligence — to separate those who are pretending to care about dogs from those who are seeking only our dollars.
(Photo: Bennett, Hank and Brutus, as pictured on the Rottweiler Twins Animal Rescue website)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: brett bennett, brother, brutus, buy, campaign, death, fundraising, grief, grieving, grieving rottweiler, hank, house, indiegogo, mourning, new, news media, questions, rottweiler, scams, schemes, seattle dog spot