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
Breed: Boston terrier
Age: 14 years
Encountered: At Heart of Gold, a jewelry store in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Backstory: Ace and I were sitting outside a coffee shop when suddenly I felt my seat start moving. I’d looped Ace’s leash over the back of my chair, and he moved it a full inch before I turned around to see what he was trying to get to.
It was a Boston terrier. She did her business in the pine needles and disappeared as quickly as she had appeared.
Despite the situation, she was happy to talk about her greying old dog, Betty, who comes to work with her every day.
She got Betty as a pup in Florida, part of a litter sired by a pedigreed Boston terrier who went by the name Willie B. Cute.
Betty’s owner, who’s moving to Texas after the shop gets packed up, happily agreed to me taking Betty’s picture, but — not wanting to be in any pictures herself — handed the dog off to her employee.
The result was a photo that captured — if I do say so myself — both the quiet dignity of old age and the joyful energy of youth.
After our quick photo session, Betty, who’s going deaf, was returned to the floor, where she immediately began scooting her butt across the carpet. She was scolded only mildly and continued scooting. That’s one of the things that comes with the dignity of old age — when you have an itch, you scratch it.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: age, animals, betty, boston terrier, boston terriers, breeds, closing, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, economy, encounters, gold, heart of gold, jewelry, north carolina, pets, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, travels with ace, winston-salem, youth
Age: Turning 11 this month
Encountered: At a roadside jewelry stand off Highway 89 on the Navajo reservation, just north of the turnoff to Tuba City, Arizona. She, her sister, Vitara, and her mother, Violet, a jewelry designer, live in Tuba City and sell Violet’s handmade jewelry in a lean-to on the side of the highway — and online as well.
Goals: Summer, whose mother describes her as a future diva, wants to be an American Idol contestant.
Judging from her singing — she performed a Taylor Swift song for me – she’d be a strong contender.
Summer’s also a dog lover, and has one of her own, Cameron, named after the nearby town. She’s pictured here with my dog, Ace.
(Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing tale of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America. “Dog’s Country” can be found exclusively on ohmidog! To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, dog's country, dogscountry, jewelry, native american, navajo, reservation, road trip, roadside, stand, summer yazzie, traveling with dogs, tuba city, violet yazzie
A dog hanging out in his owner’s jewelry store ate a diamond worth $20,000.
Worse yet, it wasn’t even one of the store’s diamonds, but one that a diamond dealer was showing off to the owners at Robert Bernard Jewelry Store, located in, of all places, Rockville, Md.
The diamond dealer dropped the gem when he pulled it out, and the store owner’s golden retriever, named Soli, scarfed it right up,WJLA reported.
The store owners called Soli’s vet, who advised letting nature take its course.
“It was not that pleasant,” said George Kaufmann, co-owner of Robert Bernard Jewelers. “I followed him; I had to pick up his stuff; I had to go through the things. I can understand what it was like in the old Gold Rush. I felt like I had just hit pay dirt.”
After three days, the diamond exited Soli and was returned to the dealer.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dealer, diamond, dog, dogs, excrement, gem, george kaufmann, golden retriever, jewel, jewelry, jewelry store, maryland, news, ohmidog!, pets, poop. waste, robert bernard jewelers, rockville, soli, swallowed, swallows
We all know what the phrase “in the doghouse” means, but here’s a look at what really happens once you’re inside.
It’s a nearly five-minute-long advertisement for the JC Penney jewelry department — pooh-pooed by some as “too long” — that has found a home on the internet, both on YouTube, and its own website, bewareofthedoghouse.com.
I disagree with its message: that only jewelry says I love you (which may be why I — one who sees romance in the functional, i.e. tools and small appliances — have spent so much time in the doghouse myself.)
But I love the ad — all 4:45 of it. And I think it shows that, whether it’s literature, news, websites, or even advertisements, creativity and wit trump short and stupid — that, contrary to popular belief, the reading/watching public does still have an attention span (newspapers take note) when given something worth reading/watching.
Enough preaching. There are only four shopping days until Christmas, and I’ve got my eye on a window cleaning kit I think my honey will really like.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 20th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advertisement, attention span, beware of the doghouse, christmas, doghouse, gifts, internet, jc penney, jewelry, long, men, relationships, romance, romantic, website, women