Portland-based photographer Ben Moon was dealt a pretty big blow at a young age. In his twenties, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. The disease meant that Ben—an active guy that likes to surf and go rock climbing—had to spend a whole lot of time in a hospital bed fighting for his life. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation and several surgeries.
And Ben might not have made it through if it wasn’t for his dog Denali.
Denali, a loyal Husky-Pit Bull mix, stayed by Ben’s side throughout the difficult time. At 12 years old, Ben rescued Denali from a shelter, and the dog quickly became Ben’s most loyal companion. Denali accompanied Ben on outdoor adventures—camping, hiking and surfing. But when Ben got diagnosed, Denali wanted nothing more than to be by Ben’s side. Photos show Denali lying in Ben’s hospital bed, comforting his sick owner at a time when he needed it most.
Ben survived cancer. He beat it. And when it was Denali’s time to leave this world, Ben made sure to be there for his canine friend and provide the same comfort and support in return.
The result is a short film titled “Denali.” Produced by Felt Soul Media, the under 10-minute short acts as an incredible tribute to the relationship between Ben and his dog. The film has already won accolades at film festivals and has touched the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.
The film documents Ben and Denali’s journey from the dog’s point of view. It shows several photos of their lifetime adventures intercut with footage that documents the old dog’s last days. As Denali approached the end, Ben took him to some of their favorite spots and made sure the canine experienced joy and peace up until his last moment.
In an Instagram post, Ben says that the video project was a “a challenging and deeply personal story.” But since debuting, the film has made a huge impact on nearly everyone that watches it.
Denali died in 2014, after spending more than 14 years sharing adventures with Ben. Watch this moving tribute—and then go and hug your dog.
Deidre Grieves is a content strategist and digital producer. Wiener dogs are her life.