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 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.
About 150 people gathered for a memorial service at the Thomasville Funeral Home.
Police Chief Jeffrey Insley said before the service that an autopsy determined that Cheko — a drug-detecting dog who also was trained as a tracker — had been poisoned, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. He was one of four dogs in the K-9 unit.
Cheko died in March, just a week before he was scheduled to retire, at the Randolph County home of his handler, Thomasville Police Sgt. John Elgin. Elgin found Cheko dead inside his kennel, about two days after the dog started acting sluggish.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department is investigating how the dog ingested the poison. Elgin said additional tests will be conducted to determine what chemicals or poisons killed Cheko.
“It could have been an act of retaliation from a past arrest, but we are not going to point any fingers until we complete our investigation,” he said.
“Any new dog who takes Cheko’s place will have big paws to fill,” Insley said at the service.
Among those paying tribute to Cheko was Thomasville Mayor Joe Bennett told the audience, Cheko had gone to heaven. “I doubt there are drugs there, but he is looking for something and having fun.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cheko, dead, detecting, died, dog, dogs, drug, funeral, john elgin, K-9, k9, killed, law enforcement, memorial, north carolina, pets, poison, poisoned, police, randolph county, sniffing, thomasville, tribute
There are times – despite what you may believe – that my dog is not at my side. One of them was Saturday night.
Once or twice a year, a select group of friends and I make it a point to visit all the old-time bars – those among the dwindling few in South Baltimore that haven’t been upscaled yet.
I’m talking about the sort of neighborhood places that are named after a guy as opposed to a concept, the kind where you’re still called “hon,” and where the food — if they have anything beyond bags of chips and a giant jar of pickled eggs atop the bar — is never “encrusted,” just flat out fried.
As Ace and I prepare to hit the road, it seemed a good time to do it again – to say goodbye not just to friends, but to a few old, not yet gentrified bars that might not be here when I get back, including one that I’d just found out will be the next to go.
Popular with old-timers and newcomers alike, the Lighthouse serves up huge portions of food, at affordable prices. When its owner Bill Wedemeyer died last year, his wife, Adele, kept it going, drawing in a steady crowd with its famous crabs, and impressive buffets on Ravens game days.
According to the sign posted in the window, Bill’s Lighthouse has been sold to new owners from California, who plan to transform it into “Café Velocity” and add outdoor dining. Currently, the only al fresco dining that takes place is done by the stray cats (like my former houseguest Miley) who are drawn by handouts from the kitchen staff.
After paying our respects at the Lighthouse, we moved on – first, right across the street, to Leon’s, home base of the Attaboy Club, whose members were holding a meeting in the back room, probably to plot their next bull/oyster/pig roast. The Attaboy Club is always roasting something.
Leon’s is unusual in that it has no outside sign. It’s a nondescript white building that caters mostly to a stalwart crowd of regulars. Yet it has always been warm and inviting when our old school bar crawl crowd shows up. My connection to it, as well as the Lighthouse, began when Ace poked his head through the door.
From Leon’s we moved on to Schaefer’s, whose bar is one of oldest in the city – a carryover from the days that male customers didn’t walk to the bathroom to relieve themselves, instead utilizing the trough-like drain that ran the length of the bar. (Not everything about the good old days was good.)
The sidewalks leading to Schaefer’s are emblazoned with the painted-on jerseys of Raven’s players, and in the back room, you can find a purple pool table.
Moving on to Rayzer’s just up the street, we got a bucket of pony-sized beers and blew a few dollars playing the video horse race game, learning, among other things, the difference between quinella and trifecta.
The last old school bar stop was Muir’s Tavern, whose glowing orange neon sign and upstairs turret give it the look of a medieval whorehouse, and I mean that in a good way.
As we arrived, Natasha, the bartender, stood outside. One customer, Mary, had run home across the street for a moment, and Natasha was worried that – Mary being small and the winds being fierce that night – she might blow away when she tried to return.
Alas, Mary made it back, and reassumed her position at the video slot machine. Our group kept itself entertained with the low-tech bowling game and Muir’s sophisticated Internet jukebox, which lets you download any song, it seems, in the world.
As you can see, though I didn’t have my dog, I had my camera along, and thanks to it and Iris Dement, we were able to throw together this tribute before we depart — a musical slide show about a slowly fading side of South Baltimore.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: america, animals, baltimore, bar crawl, bars, bills lighthouse, change, dogs, federal hill, gentrification, iris dement, leon's, lighthouse, muirs, neighborhood bars, neighborhoods, nostalgia, old school, our town, pets, progress, rayzers, riverside, road trip, schaefers, south baltimore, taverns, travels with ace, tribute, video
Pete, a dog whose likeness has appeared on ohmidog! since it inception — and a dog whose human played a big role in that inception — died over the weekend at the age of 10-plus.
Baltimore artist Gil Jawetz, who designed the ohmidog! website and helped get it off the ground, posted notice of Pete’s death this week on his website, buskerdog:
“On Sunday, November 28, 2010, after over 10 years of enriching our lives, of spoiling us with his endless love, and of making us laugh, smile, and cry, Pete passed away. He gave us more than he ever could have imagined. He was a muse and a best friend, a confidante and a rock in the storm. He will be profoundly missed for the rest of our lives.”
Pete entered the life of Gil Jawetz and Tracey Middlekauff when the couple found him in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, ten years ago.
“We don’t know how old he was when we found him,” Gil said. “We optimistically hoped he was one but he could have been anything.”
Tracey paid tribute to Pete on her food blog, Tasty Trix, yesterday.
“… Pete was my best friend. Any of you have ever loved a pet with your whole being know exactly what I mean. My relationship with him went deeper than silly words can express … He showed us what it means to be truly good and open and unselfconscious and funny and sweet and noble and artless. He gave us all of himself, fearlessly and completely. I am honored that I had the opportunity to know him for just over 10 years, a time that now seems maliciously brief.”
Pete had degenerative mylopathy and a nasal infection that turned out to be, likely, a tumor. After a seizure on Sunday, his vet suspected the tumor had spread to his brain.
“Rather than put him through more (and stronger) seizures, we took his calm exhaustion following the seizure as a sign that he was ready to go,” Gil wrote in an email. “He spent his last few hours on the floor of the examining room with his head in our laps, staring into our eyes.”
Pete’s image appeared in numerous galleries and art shows, and it has been on ohmidog! ever since Gil, a painter of dogs and other things, designed this website for me. (See the advertisements on the left side.)
“We are beside ourselves with grief, as you can imagine,” Gil wrote. “Our world as it has been for over a decade is utterly changed. The world is a less joyful place for not having Pete in it.”
(Photos: Courtesy of Gil Jawetz)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, artist, baltimore, death, dog, dogs, gil jawetz, grief, in memory, loss, ohmidog!, pete, pets, tracey middlekauff, tribute
This tribute was put together by The Dog Files, honoring the more than 300 search and rescue dogs that responded to 9-11.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 2001, 9-11, 911, attack, dogs, remembering, rescue, search, search and rescue dogs, terrorist, tribute, world trade center
Nick Galifianakis the cartoonist — not to be confused with Nick Galifianakis, the congressman (his uncle); Zack Galifianakis, the comedian (his cousin); or Peter Galifianakis, the sculptor (his father) — paid a moving tribute to his dog Zuzu in Friday’s Washington Post:
“She was my best friend, my therapist, my tranquilizer, my daily affirmation that life is fundamentally good, and my muse,” he writes.
Zuzu, who was named after the character in “It’s A Wonderful Life” (George Bailey’s daughter), died last week. Galifianakis frequently used Zuzu — a pit bull — in his illustrations.
Galifianakis worked as an editorial cartoonist and illustrator for USA Today and US News & World Report, and as a free-lance editorial cartoonist. He still illustrates the columns written by his ex-wife, Carolyn Hax, in the Post’s Style section.
Among the cartoonist’s memories of his dog:
“How she’d be in a park full of people and dogs, and look for me … How she rested her big, cartoonish head on my thigh … How she let me rest my feet on her as she slept under my drawing board … Her expressive eyebrows, particularly delightful to her cartoonist companion … Her weight when I carried her up and down the stairs, after her knees wore out.
“When I realized it was time, I held her for hours until the vet arrived at my home,” Galifianakis writes. “People keep saying I should feel good about the great life I gave her, but I know I was the lucky one, because she so effortlessly filled my world and unleashed in me a bottomless supply of love. If you had asked me the day before what my last words to Zuzu would be, I would have said, ‘I love you.’
“But when the moment came, the words I said, before I knew I was saying them, were ‘Thank you.'”
Posted by John Woestendiek August 23rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, carolyn hax, cartoonist, cartoons, death, dog, dogs, galifianakis, homage, illustrator, loss, love, memories, nick galifianakis, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, relationships, tribute, washington post, zuzu