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
A German photographer is taking some heat — at least on the Internet — for a series of photos capturing dogs in mid-air.
Dogs used in the photo shoot didn’t plummet too far, apparently only a couple of feet or so, after being dropped by their (off camera) owners onto a mattress.
The photos were picked up by more than a few media outlets, including the Daily Mail, which called them “hilarious,” and the Huffington Post, which termed the dog’s faces “precious,” pointed out no dogs were injured and noted, “We’re betting some of them even wanted to go again, since dogs are just awesome.”
Readers, almost unanimously, had, an entirely different view of it. Almost all those leaving comments on the Huffington Post post, called it animal cruelty, with many noting the fear they say is evident in the dog’s eyes.
Nearly 100 dogs and their owners turned up at Christe’s studio after she issued a call for canine models — and none of the owners apparently had any problem holding their dogs in the air and dropping them onto a mattress.
Christe (left) said she was seeking a unique perspective for her dog photos, and that all the dogs who took part seemed to have fun doing so.
“The dogs were dropped by their owners onto a mattress from as low a height as possible, and the impression of flight was enlarged by wind machines,” the photographer explained in the Daily Mail.
But as some commenters noted, even light landings can be hard on small dogs like dachshunds, and — regardless of how far they’re falling — the stress and fear it causes constitutes cruelty, some say.
“It’s actually incredibly dangerous for doxins to jump, let alone be dropped,” wrote one. “Their backs are very fragile and can break. This is more about a photographer wanting the spotlight, than it is art. Shame on you for putting your ego before these dogs’ safety and well being.”
We’d go a step further and say it’s also about websites who pander to dog lovers without pausing to think about what they’re pasting onto their sites — the ones that, in their haste to get more hits, slap an “adorable” label on anything dog-related and share it, failing to apply anything close to critical or responsible thinking.
“I really love animals, and so everything was safe, I would never take a chance on them getting hurt,” Christe said in the Daily Mail article. “…I feel the photographs show off both the grace and elegance of the dogs, which makes them appear in a slightly different way than usual.”
For all those pet photographers who would put a dog at risk so that they may achieve a new artistic perspective, we’d suggest they fling their own selves through the air, or turn their own selves upside down.
Because all those down-to-earth dogs are perfectly happy with the perspective they already have.
(Photos: Julia Christe / HotSpot Media)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airborne, animal welfare, animals, art, cruelty, daily mail, danger, dog, dogs, dropped, fear, flying, flying dogs, german, germany, hazardous, huffington post, internet, julia christe, mid air, perspective, pets, photographer, photography, photos, repsonsibility, risk, risky, websites
When a friend had to put her dog down a week ago, Houston photographer Robyn Arouty joined her to provide some moral support, and to document Duke’s bittersweet last day with her camera.
Arouty, who is also an animal rescuer and advocate, joined her friend Jordan Roberts on July 7 as she let Duke feast on hamburgers and visit a water park before he received a lethal injection — all while surrounded by friends.
Duke, a black Lab, was diagnosed a few years ago with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, and had his right front leg removed. The cancer came back, though, and was spreading.
“His tumor was growing rapidly and we were out of options,” Roberts said. “He would rally during the day, but his nights were increasingly uncomfortable as his tumor started to separate his ribs. We struggled with the decision to let Dukey go, but ultimately did everything in our power to protect him from further pain.”
She made an appointment with a vet to have him euthanized on Monday, July 7. Then she called Arouty, who had taken photos for her before. She told her about her plans for Duke’s last day and asked her to photograph it.
Arouty’s photos show Duke and friends eating hamburgers in the morning, visiting a water park, and cuddling with friends.
Along with the photos, Arouty told the story of Duke (narrated from his point of view) on her blog . (Note: At the time of this writing, it was having some technical difficulties.)
“Jordan let me know she had scheduled the appointment with the vet and the words just came,” Arouty told KSL.com. “See, I have lost three of my own dogs in the past year and a half.”
“With the help from our friends, Dukey had a beautiful day filled with love and happiness,” his owner said. “We should all be so lucky.”
(Photos: From Robyn Arouty’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, black, cancer, death, dog, dogs, duke, dukes last day, euthanasia, euthanized, jordan roberts, lab, labrador, last day, loss, osteosarcoma, pets, photographer, photography, photos, put down, retriever, robyn arouty
The Huffington Post reported that the “Les Misérables” star was walking her dog on the day after Christmas and found herself being followed by a man with a camera.
When Esmerelda pooped, Hathaway dutifully scooped it up in a yellow plastic bag, and knotted the top.
Then, the website reports, she placed the bag on the windshield of the unidentified photographer’s car and walked away.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, animals, anne hathaway, bag, car, dog, dogs, entertainment, esmerelda, les miserables, movies, paparazzi, paparazzo, pets, photographer, poop, pooparazzi, scoop, waste, windshield
We humans, with our vastly superior intellects, and being the far more evolved and civilized species, don’t need no stinkin’ animals to show us how to live life.
You’d think not — especially with Christmas approaching. Between all the peace, good will and fellowship the season supposedly brings, and all the attention, with his death, on Nelson Mandela’s legacy of kindness and forgiveness, we shouldn’t be needing, right now, any furry creatures reminding us bigger-brained, two-legged types how to get along with each other.
Yet, in the past month, they seem to keep doing so — almost as if they think the message has failed to get through.
First, it’s a goose and a dog partnering up in the UK. Then it’s an elk and a dog becoming backyard playmates in Washington state. Both pairs were shown at play, raising the question, at least in some heads, if animals of different sizes and species — like elephants and dogs, or cats and crows – can get along with each other, why can’t we?
Now comes this latest pair, a fox and a dog in Norway who met in the woods last summer and became fast friends.
Norwegian photographer Torgeir Berge was out for a walk with his four-year-old German shepherd, Tinni, when they encountered an abandoned baby fox. Since then the fox, which Berge named Sniffer, has regularly met up with them on their trips through the woods, and Berge has been taking pictures of the get-togethers.
Now he’s working on a book about the unlikely friendship with writer Berit Helberg, who told TODAY.com that the fox was probably an orphan whose mother had died, and was probably seeking food, help and company.
“Not many people are privileged to see and enjoy a friendship like this, but Torgeir Berge has both seen them in action and gotten the opportunity to catch this in images that don’t need words,” Helberg wrote in post. They hope the story will raise awareness for animal rights and the conditions that some animals are forced live in as a result of the fur trade, Helberg said.
Yes, animals of different species far more often kill and eat each other to survive. And these unlikely interspecies friendships, seemingly choreographed from the grave (or wherever he is) of Walt Disney, are the exception. It’s not like animals got together and said ”Let’s rethink this whole survival of the fittest thing, and live together in harmony, eating wild berries.”
It was from animals, after all, that we most likely learned that mindset — that the world belongs to the fittest, richest or whoever roars the loudest.
Heartwarming as these unlikely friendship stories are, they’re not messages being sent to humans by animals.
But, particularly at Christmas, they are messages worth receiving, and learning from.
(Photos by Torgeir Berge, via Today.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, book, cat and crow, christmas, dog, dog and elephant, dog and elk, dog and fox, dog and goose, elephant, elk, fox, fox and dog, friends, goose, humans, interspecies, kindness, love, man, mandela, norway, pets, photographer, photography, relationships, society, torgeir berge, unlikely friendships, wildlife
While, as you can see above, the First Lady quickly seized control of the situation, the Second Dog got in a little trouble yesterday at a White House Christmas party.
Sunny Obama, the second Portuguese water dog the Obamas adopted, was part of a minor incident in which, by most reports, the one-year-old dog’s over-friendliness caused a party guest, 2-year-old Ashtyn Gardner, to fall over.
Sunny, adopted in August, jumped up on the toddler during the 2013 White House Holiday Press Preview.
The moment – not the worst violation of etiquette to ever take place in the White House, but maybe the cutest — was captured by Associated Press photographer Charles Dharapak.
Michelle Obama hosts the party every year, unveiling the White House’s holiday decorations with families of military service members.
Ashtyn, both of whose parents are in the Navy, was attending the party with her father, John Gardner, who later said that Ashtyn was fine.
Sunny reportedly apologized right after the incident by licking Ashtyn’s face, and both Sunny and Bo, the Obama’s first Portuguese water dog, were allowed to remain in the room afterward.
The Washington Post said Sunny “bounded into a State Dining Room full of children dressed in sparkly shoes and lacy dresses and headed right for little Ashtyn Gardner, 2, from Mobile, Ala. All of a sudden the blond girl with ringlet curls … was down on the rug. …
“Are you okay?” said a concerned Obama, mom-in-chief, tugging back on Sunny’s leash. But there was no need for damage control. Before Ashtyn could answer, she was back on her feet and Sunny was licking her face. All seemed well again, and the kids from military families could get back to frosting cookies and making paper poinsettia flowers with the first lady, crafty projects that have become a part of the Obama holiday traditions.
The Associated Press also avoided saying Sunny made contact with the girl, reporting Ashtyn “lost her balance and dropped to the carpet when Michelle Obama led the leashed puppy (a separate handler held Bo) into the State Dining Room…”
The dogs, in addition to attending the fest, also are a large part of its theme. Two life-sized replicas of the Portuguese water dogs, made from black satin ribbon, are on display, and miniature versions of them, made of chocolate, are part of the annual gingerbread White House display.
(Photo: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 5th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ashtyn gardner, associated press, bo, bo obama, Charles Dharapak, christmas, decorations, dogs, etiquette, first dog, first lady, girl, jumped, michelle, michelle obama, navy, obama, party, pets, photo, photographer, portuguese water dogs, president, second dog, sunny, sunny obama, white house
As stunning as Carli Davidson’s photographs are in “SHAKE” — a new book featuring dogs caught in the middle of letting the fur (and drool) fly — this video produced in conjunction with her may be even more breathtaking.
SHAKE, the book, was released today by HarperCollins. Inspired by Davidson’s own dog, a mastiff named Norbert, who regularly flings drool at her home, it presents more than 130 full-page portraits of dogs shaking off water. The photos began showing up on the Internet in 2012, went viral, and were shaped into a book.
As a side project, Davidson worked with Variable, a New York production company, to produce the video.
The still photos are magnificent, capturing dogs in a millisecond – their heads caught in mid-swivel, their ears in mid flap, their jowls contorted, their fur frozen in flight, and their slung streams of drool stopped in mid-air.
The slow-motion video, though, shows the whole intricate dance – and how the simple act of a dog shaking is really pretty complex. Exactly how many different muscles, going in how many different directions, does doing that take? And how is it possible to be so grossly contorted and amazingly elegant at the same time?
The answer is you have to be a dog.
You, as a human, can dance with stars, dance with the devil, or dance ’til you drop, but I don’t think your moves will ever parallel what a dog is able to pull off in the simple — or not so simple — act of shaking off.
Davidson, a native of Portland, Oregon, began experimenting with taking high-speed photos of dogs shaking off water in 2011. The next year she began posting them online, and they received millions of views.
In 2012, members of the team at Variable saw Davidson’s photo series online and contacted her about making a video.
“Fortunately for us, Carli responded to our enthusiastic e-mail with an even more enthusiastic e-mail stating that she was totally down to collaborate and had a very similar vision! After months and many meetings of trying to figure out how we could even afford to make this film, we all just decided to empty our pockets, pull some serious strings, and make the video purely for the fun of it.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, book, books on dogs, carli davidson, dog, dog books, dogs, dogs shaking, drool, flapping, fur, high speed photography, jowls, mastiff, norbert, pets, photographer, photography, photos, shake, shaking dogs, shaking dogs book, shaking dogs photos, shaking dogs video, slow motion, variable, video, water