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Hand in Paw: A Documentary

$1,360 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 5 people in 13 months
Hagar Before:

Hagar after health care:


Hagar months later, chronic problems winning:

Say hello to Hagar. He was an Old Dog Haven final refuge foster dog. Our second one. This last photo was taken a few days before the end of his life. My wife is soaking his paw in an effort to control one of his multitude of infections.

The pictures above tell a simple story. To look at Hagar before we got him, it's a pretty safe bet that no one would adopt him. Odds are he would not have lasted long at all, and sadly, that he would have spent his final days alone and confused. Enter Old Dog Haven. They seek out dogs like Hagar, the poor old dogs that find their way into bad situations that usually involve as much human tragedy as for the dogs themselves. Owners get old, become forgetful, lose their jobs, get carted off to a care facility, or pass away.

ODH saves these dogs from that lonely fate. That's not to say that the dogs are miraculously healed. That takes a lot of work and a lot of money. Some dogs last for days, some last for years. Hagar lasted abut 6 months. You can see in the second picture how dramatic the results can be. A couple of months of love and care and Hagar was back in the good life. Besides us, he had a good vet, and the backing of ODH. Although the health victories are very gratifying, the real win is in the fact that he learned to see us as his people, and our home as Home.

Eventually, Hagar's chronic health problems caught up with him, and we couldn't stay ahead of them. It's a sad struggle for us, but it's still a victory for him. I was there when he was put to sleep, when the pain went away. He was surrounded by people who knew him and loved him, and ultimately, I believe that matters.

Old Dog Haven is an organization in Western Washington that takes on a hard mission. They rescue old, unadoptable dogs from shelters and from individuals who can no longer care for them and place them in foster homes, known as final refuge fosters. ODH pays all the medical bills for these dogs, and the fosters provide love, food, support, and transportation. The goal is to give these dogs a second chance at life, and if all else fails, to have them pass on with people who love them. It's far better than having them euthanized in a shelter, in fear, surrounded by strangers.

Here's a blog post on the rest of our pack.

More on our pack.

ODH has done a great job building their mission, and they do it with remarkably low overhead. Currently they have 320+ dogs in their system and they spend roughly $90,000 per month in dog medical bills. The reason these dogs are unadoptable is that most people cannot afford the medical expenses.

My goal is to produce a documentary to support the ODH mission. It has three layers: The first layer is the documentary itself, which is really about our relationship with dogs and our responsibility to those dogs. The focus is on Old Dog Haven because they tackle the toughest extreme of that responsibility, and they do it so well.

The second layer is to use the footage acquired in the course of the documentary in a very direct way, to edit specific event and fundraising promotional videos.

The third layer is to make all the project assets available to Old Dog Haven, so that they can use the footage in any way they see fit in the future. They have other volunteers who are very active in making videos to help bring attention to the problems that ODH solves. I want to create a library to help anyone in ODH make great videos to support the cause. And finally, I want to do the whole thing without taking a single dollar from ODH. They run incredibly lean and they do great work.

To accomplish my goals, I need a set of tools that allow me to produce video to modern cinematic standards. I once owned a commercial video production company, and I know how to produce a good film, but the video world has changed several times over since then. I examined multiple options to get this done, and by far the cheapest option was to gear up and produce it from start to finish. Add in the fact that it's a very personal story for me, and I'll be the first to admit that I wouldn't trust anyone else to do it well.

And finally, one of the best pieces of advice my dad ever gave was that every little bit helps. I put up goals, since that seems to be the way of crowdfunding, but honestly, this a very heartfelt subject for me and anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated.
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Well, let's see... First up, our current ODH foster, Wally, is healing very nicely, and the latest phase involves actual regrowth of fur. Don't get too excited. The odds are that he will never really have a full coat of fur, but as an indicator of improving health, the new fur is pretty exciting. Plus, he takes me for walks now. I take him out to do his business, and he heads off down the sidewalk. I half follow and half guide him, but I've learned that he always knows where he is in relation to home, aka source of all treats.

On the documentary project front, I have a pretty impressive pile of footage that keeps getting reworked as I gradually come up to speed on the realities of modern video production. I have six interviews and three major events filmed, along with some other footage that illustrates a great deal of the joy of dogs. However, I have long way to go to tell the complete story, and a great many technical hurdles to overcome.

Given the pace I have been able to meet, along with the hard realities of Western Washington weather, there is no way I will finish the film this year, but I will keep working until it's done.

And finally, I need to thank my fellow ODH volunteers, Jennifer and Kelly, for their massive support. Their donations are not currently reflected on this site, but it's safe to say that without their help, I would not have much to show for the effort to this point. Rosemary supplied the camera, and Jennifer and Kelly supplied the ability to keep it running all day. I supplied the beefy computer, but Jennifer and Kelly supplied the storage space for all the footage.

It takes a village.
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The one-eyed Shih Tzu, once known as McTavish but now cleverly named Captain Wally and still frequently referred to as McNewGuy, is settling in nicely. He has gained a lot of strength and energy, as well as strong opinions about EVERYTHING. He tested positive for Cushings and is on medication, which seems to be helping. His bloated belly has disappeared ( I wish it were that easy for me) and his skin continues to heal. There may even be a little new fuzz growing on his massive bald spot. The formerly huge and gnarly hotspot on his curly pig tail is closing up. You wouldn't believe how much ingenuity my wife has put into that tail. All in all, we have a courageous, personable little guy on our hands and he's heading in the right direction.

On the project side, I wrote a new post on my blog, offering some details about the challenges of making this documentary. Please check it out and help if you can.
Soaking up some rays
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So, tomorrow is the annual Walk for Old Dogs. Thanks to Rosemary and Martin, and some offline donors, I have a camera that is capable of capturing quality footage of the event. This is a huge obstacle overcome. Missing the Walk would be like putting off the final product for a year.

That would be year of Old Dog Haven missing a shoe in the grand scheme of things. They have done remarkably well without professional video, but the honest truth is that they need long term funding in order to make the kind of strategic decisions they need to make.

I'm not tightly wrapped in the organization. My view, my voice, about ODH is purely from the outside. Yes, we foster ODH dogs, but we have nothing to do with the management of the organization. My wife and I are simply trying to tell a story about the plight of old dogs, our relationship with dogs, and how ODH takes on the hardest end of that relationship. These dogs are not cute bouncy puppies. They are old. They are typically blind, deaf, mobility challenged, and saddled with chronic health problems.

The easy answer is to write them off. My answer is that we have been breeding them to be our partners for 30,000 years. We made them dependent on us, and therefore, we owe them the best we can give.

On their side, they make the trade without question. They give everything they have to their partnership with us. They don't know how to throttle their devotion.

That's the story that needs to be told. I'm determined to tell it. Please donate to the film and the cause.
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$1,360 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 5 people in 13 months
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$25
Stacey Hamby
10 months ago
CC
$100
Cathy CallawayAdams
12 months ago
TF
$135
Tom Frizell-Shackley
12 months ago
MC
$100
Martin Calloway
13 months ago
RK
$1,000
Rosemary Gimbel King
13 months ago
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