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
We won’t be so anthropomorphic as to insist what you’re watching above is a “tender moment” between two species.
(But we will — privately — feel all warm inside and silently go “awwwwwwww.”)
This seal flopped his way up to a yellow Labrador on a beach in southwestern France and seemingly embraced him — as much as one with flippers can embrace.
The dog, meanwhile, took it all in stride.
The video was shot at Le Cap Ferret and uploaded earlier this month by YouTube user Elise Frebourg.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 22nd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, beach, dog, dog and seal, dog and seal video, dogs, embrace, france, friends, hug, interspecies, labrador, pets, retriever, seal, seal and dog, seal and dog video, seals, species, unlikely friends, video, yellow lab
They’ve been playmates and cuddle-buddies for several months now, so when Ruuxa, a cheetah cub, underwent surgery last week at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a puppy named Raina was there for him.
Raina, Rhodesian ridgeback, stood guard while the cheetah recovered from an operation, and licked and nuzzled him once he woke up, zoo officials say.
The two were paired up shortly after Ruuxa, seven weeks old at the time, arrived at the zoo. Born alone, instead of in a litter, he was rejected by his mother, as zoo officials say is often the case with single-birth cheetahs.
Figuring he needed a companion, staff teamed him up with Raina as part of the zoo’s animal ambassador program.
They are both about four months old now, and have become close friends.
Last week, KPBS reports, Ruuxa underwent surgery to correct a growth abnormality causing a bowing of his limbs.
Raina, according to animal training manager Susie Ekard, grew distressed. She waited outside the operating room during the surgery at the zoo’s veterinary hospital. When Ruuxa, still sedated, was in recovery, Raina was allowed to stand guard.
“She appeared very concerned about Ruuxa when she saw he was sleeping and she couldn’t wake him,” Ekard said.
Once Ruuxa woke up, Raina licked and nuzzled him and layed down beside him, Ekard said.
Under the amabassador program, Safari Park officials pair cheetahs with domestic dogs, with the idea that they will be companions for life. according to a zoo blog. The dogs help the wild animals feel more relaxed and comfortable in their surroundings and to be less fearful of people.
Here’s a video of the two not long after they were first paired up:
(Photo: San Diego Zoo Safari Park)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 8th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, cheetah, cheetah and dog, cheetah and puppy, cub, dog, dogs, friends, operation, pets, raina, relationships, rhodesian ridgeback, ruuxa, ruuxa and raina, safari park, san diego, surgery, video, zoo
Here’s a sweet little story out of Albany, Minnesota, where a dog named River — described as part pointer, part “Walmart greeter” — serves as both friend and inspiration to many in the small town.
River lost the use of his hind legs after being attacked by two larger dogs while out on a walk.
But he has persevered, and — aided by a set of wheels — he’s enjoying his walks as much, if not more, than he ever did, his owners say.
Carol Mader says River seems more concerned about the people around him since his injury.
“He pulls out the people, I think, that are hurting.” she told KARE11. “It’s just like he senses they need attention.”
“He has no use of the back legs at all,” says her husband, Herby. “Probably a lot of dogs would give up, you know, where he’s not.”
River’s veterinarian Dr. Wendy Womack calls the 11-year-old dog “a regular icon” in Albany, a town of about 2,600.
The Maders take River for walks four or five times a day, during which he makes new friends and revisits old ones.
“…I always see him every day, twice a day, three times.” says Ron Koczur, who lost a leg to diabetes and greets River from his wheelchair. “Even though he’s lost of a couple limbs, he’s still happy and proud.”
Posted by John Woestendiek August 20th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: albany, animals, behavior, cart, disability, dog, dogs, empathy, friends, handicaps, minnesota, perseverance, pets, pointer, river, sensitivity, social, walks, wheel chair, wheelchair, wheels
Here’s Zeke, a recently rescued pit bull, and his new friend.
Zeke’s owner said the deer approached their backyard fence one day.
After the animals checked each other out, the dance began.
She was able to capture the scene on her cell phone.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, deer, deer and pitbull, deer and pitbull video, dogs, friends, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, play, unlikely friends, video, wildlife
That up above is Friday, June 13th’s “Honey Moon,” under which Ace and I slept during a quick beach trip over the weekend.
Given the next Friday the 13th Honey Moon won’t come along until 2098 — and given Ace is 9 and I’m 60 — we decided, after some math, it was best to take full advantage of it.
So, even though there was plenty of room inside the home of our hosts on North Carolina’s Figure 8 Island, we slept outside on lounge chairs, so we could fully bask (though I remained clothed) in whatever it is that is so special about it.
The honey-colored full moon always occurs in June around the summer solstice, when the moon, in its orbit around the earth, comes closest to our humble planet. That point is called “perigee,” not to be confused with pedigree, which is a silly certificate, or peregrine, which is a falcon.
On Friday, the perigee coincided with the moon’s full phase, and coincided with a Friday the 13th as well.
All of which sounded too magical to not sleep under. The last time all those coincided was June 13, 1919, according to Universe Today, and it won’t happen again until June 13, 2098.
The honey moon is likely what gave us the phrase “honeymoon,” according to atronomer Bob Berman.
“That phrase dates back nearly half a millennium, to 1552 … The idea back then was that a marriage is like the phases of the moon, with the full moon being analogous to a wedding … meaning, it’s the happiest and ‘brightest’ time in a relationship.”
We’re not sure what sunrises are analogous to, when it comes to relationships, but maybe they’re reminders to wake up and see the brightness in your partner every day — the Saturday the 14th’s, the Wednesday the 23rd’s, and all the other non-special ones.
In any event, there was a nice one the next morning — sunrise, that is.
One of the advantages of sleeping outside is that you get to wake up to something like this:
Our beach trip is an annual affair, a gathering of college buddies, sponsored by the humans of a dog named Earl.
Earl and Ace are both starting to get up in years
That’s them to the left in their University of North Carolina garb. That’s them, not so far left, receiving the daily doggy blessing from host Steve, during which they sit enraptured, either by his words or the Milk Bone they know is coming.
As older dogs, Ace and Earl react a little more slowly (except when treats are involved); grunt, sigh and harrumph a bit more; sleep a lot more; and, unlike the sun and moon, they don’t always rise and set so effortlessly.
All of which I could also say about myself. I did manage on Saturday, even after my restful sleep under the Honey Moon, to work in two — or was it three? — naps.
I’ve noticed I seem to spend with each passing summer a little less time in the surf, a little more time in the hammock, only occasionally getting those dog-like, running-in-circles, bursts of energy.
But I guess all those quiet moments allow me to figure some things out — such as, when it comes to dogs, and truly good friends, the honeymoon is never over.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, aging, animals, beach, dog, dogs, earl, figure 8, figure eight, friday the 13th, friends, honey moon, honeymoon, island, moon, moonrise, north carolina, old, pets, rise, set, sun, sunrise, sunset, travels with ace
Hang around long enough — whether you’re a YouTube video or a Labrador retriever — and you might find some love.
This video of a yellow Lab persistently trying to gain the attention of a three-year-old boy with Down syndrome, was posted on YouTube in June 2012, but only recently has its popularity soared, topping 4 million views.
Ana Marta Vegas says her son, Hernan, usually avoids any kind of physical contact.
In this video, shot by his family, you can see the boy, after grabbing the dog’s paw, continuously backing off and at times seeming to push her away.
But the Lab is calmly persistent — nuzzling, licking, nibbling, pawing and inching ever closer to the boy.
At one point, she sits and gently puts her paw on his shoulder.
Eventually, nearly four minutes into the video, Hernan responds and gives the dog, named Himalaya, what appears to be a hug.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 27th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: affection, animals, attention, bond, boy, dog, dog and boy, dogs, down syndrome, friends, hernan, himalaya, hug, humans, labrador, making friends, persistence, pets, retriever, vegas, video, yellow lab