The short film “Denali” is a heartbreakingly beautiful tribute by Ben Moon to his deceased dog Denali. Filmmaker Ben Knight of Felt Soul Media used first-person narration to give voice to Denali, who told the story of the incredibly close relationship he shared with Ben, the challenges they faced throughout the years together, and about his last days spent with Ben at his side.
I think most people would have left their old dog at home, but Ben insisted upon taking me to all our favorite spots one more time. I think he feels that he can’t leave my side right now. This one time, about 10 years ago, we were camping at Joshua Tree and Ben stood up by the campfire and just passed out. And he started bleeding. Things changed a lot after that. When I licked him, I could taste the chemicals they were putting in him to kill the cancer. But it just seemed like they were killing him too. If anyone had tried to take me out of that hospital room, I would have bitten their face. …I don’t know what I would have done without Ben. I’m so glad his cancer went away. I’d be so scared right now if I was going through this without him. …My last night was really peaceful. I wasn’t hungry anymore so I let Ben know it was time and he let me sleep on his chest all night.
The moment the two met in an animal shelter in 1999, it was love at first sight. Ben wasn’t comfortable in cities, so he and his pooch spent most days traveling up and down the western United States, living one thrilling adventure after the other. We can see these incredible moments captured in Ben’s photos, from shark fishing to desert sailing, yoga in the the mountains, or just picking up girls. Denali’s undeniable happiness shining through the lens…
Tragedy struck in 2004, as Ben was diagnosed with cancer. His best buddy refused to leave his side, comforting him through rigorous treatments and procedures. Denali’s affection and loyalty played a huge role in Ben’s recovery, “When he was in the hospital bed with me, he’d just sort of step up there so gently, it was kind if mind-blowing,” according to Ben. “He made sure he wasn’t touching anything that was in pain and not invade my space.” The bond between them grew even stronger. In later years, Denali would be the one stricken with cancer. As a farewell, Ben took him to the places that they both loved. The day after Denali passed away on Feb. 2, 2014, Ben posted a eulogy on Instagram: “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 challenges. Thank you for your uncanny ability to walk into a frame at precisely the right moment to elevate an image, for teaching me love and 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 the countless live you touched felt the same.”