May 12, 2012

The Dog in the Clouds

Hi everyone, Willie G here with some very exciting news.

A dog appeared in the clouds one day not so long ago to lead a helping paw to somebody’s life. willy

Us dogs are incredible in this respect, we always know when to put our chin on your lap and look deep into your eyes.

We get a funny feeling telling us you need our inspiration and our faith in you. This is why we are here to be your best friends.

We wanted to know more about this dog in the clouds and set out to interviewed the author,Brian Beker.

From one dog to another, us dogs have to take care of our people and stories like this are meant to be shared so others can learn how amazing us dogs are. I told my mom, we had to asked him to tell us his amazing story about the dog in cloud who changed his life so we can share it here with you.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did,

Willie G, and the team at Barking Bar Productions

 

BrianBekercomparison shot 2

Willie G interview with Brian Beker, author of The Dog in the Clouds e-book. Pictured above is Brian Beker and the Cloud.

 

Willie questions are in Bold print

Can you give us a little background information about yourself and how you came to write this e-book?

First of all, Willie, let me just say what an honor it is to sit down with such a distinguished dogonage as yourself.

I saw the apparition of a dog in the clouds over Kathmandu once. This book is the story of believing in something, the magic that can happen if you do, and the much bigger magic there is in a relationship with a dog.

It's the story of my dog Orville. How he entered my life and everything he did to change it. It was the relationship with Orville that brought me back from the brink. It was his death that sent me back there, and it was the understanding of his message, later, that meant the most. 

The story of The Dog in the Clouds is made up of the kind of events that lead you to see the meaning in your life. I'm writing the e-book because this magical dog story taught me so much. People might think I'm nuts when they hear it, but it's the way it was, and I'm going to tell it. 

Until e-books came around and liberated the process, I never really didn't have a good way to tell this story. A book without the hundreds of beautiful pictures and hours of video I have just wouldn't be as rich and textured, not to mention fun. So I'm writing this e-book because just now the new formats match the inspiring tale. I also love the fact that people will be able to share all the visual stuff with their kids.

Here's the background. Years ago, I went through some trying times. It started when I was crushed in a jeep wreck  in Nepal. Both of my legs were pulverized, my left arm was snapped, and worst of all, I got clocked really hard on the head. It was in a remote place, at night, in the Himalayan foothills. I left my body and saw the aftermath of this accident from the air (and was able to return to the remote spot two years later and pick it out from what I saw from the air). I went for days without treatment, and then that was under the care of a missionary doctor who was whisked out of the country when he was accused of serial murder. More than a dozen of his patients died in the 10 days I was in the hospital. The New York Times travel section story about that I think still holds the record for column inches printed in response.

Broken bones heal, but the effects of that wallop on the head lingered. I just didn't know what to make of things. 

Right after I went back to work, I entered a period of deep pain and paralysis of the legs. Over the next two years I saw 22 doctors. They all said there was nothing wrong with me. Having all those doctors reinforce the idea that there was nothing that a good psychiatrist couldn't fix was troubling, to say the least.

But then Doctor Number 23 found a huge tumor on my spinal cord - eight centimeters - and even though they had to chew my back up to get it out, I could walk again. 

I went straight back to work in Asia, making a documentary about revolution and heroin trafficking during a series of clandestine border crossings in the jungles of Burma. The film, Lines of Fire, won awards, was broadcast all over the world. It premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was selected as the opening night film for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annual documentary series. It might not have been the smartest thing emotionally, though, to make that film. It was war, people were dying, the cause in Burma seemed hopeless, it is the children who always suffer the most in war zones, the animals go through hell... all in all, it wasn't the best way to recover from all those years of physical and psychical injury, even though I was devoted to getting that story out to the world.

Other nutty stuff added up - getting captured in Burma while working for Greenpeace a year later (we escaped), a death sentence (given in absentia - I was invited to attend my appeal in Rangoon) for espionage, being deported from Nepal when assisting a director on a Keanu Reeves picture there, a divorce... I was getting wound up pretty tight.

I went on the run. I just wanted to go someplace quiet, cheap and out of the way. I went back to Nepal, the place where I had been crushed and almost killed in that accident, the place I had been deported from a couple of years earlier. I went there because despite the bad stuff, it was also the place where I had experienced the most magic. So, that's the back story.

It was the rainy season. No one was around. It was lonely, muddy, depressing - absolutely the worst time to be there. There were riots in the streets, tear gas, and the cops laid on a 5 PM to 5 AM curfew, so to add to the mood there was a nice helping of solitary confinement in a brick-walled guest house room.

Kathmandu is just south of the Himalaya Mountains, and the combination of those mountains and the hot flatlands leading up to them makes for some of the most staggering thunderstorms on the planet. In the middle of a night I was out on the roof, sitting in the rain, watching one of the storms, getting soaked. There was a staggering display of lightning deep inside the clouds - it looked like a star was being born in a galaxy just overhead. It was one of those moments of natural magnificence that takes your breath away.

And then - just like that - the clouds parted, like curtains on a stage, revealing a perfectly composed cloudscape. The full moon was right in the center, and rising from the bottom, what looked to me like a dog's head. A beautiful, joyful, celestial dog, way up there in the Himalayan sky, with a full moon to light his way.

It was an incredibly touching moment for me. No one else was out in that downpour, let alone staring up at it in the middle of the night. It felt like it was just for me. 

And the truth is, I completely believed it was a sign. I had no doubt that it meant that that exact dog was on his way to me.

I  started looking for him the next day in Kathmandu. I went all over town and looked at every dog I came across. None of them seemed to be the one. I looked in Kathmandu, and then when I went home to Colorado, I kept looking. I printed up the photograph I took of the clouds that night and compared dogs to it all the time. 

One day I realized how insane this was. I was still unsure of my thinking from the knock on the head. And here I was checking dogs against a shape in the clouds.

And so I dropped it. I wanted a dog. I switched from the clouds to the classifieds. Someone out on the prairie had a litter of Labradors that she said were ready that day. She asked me what I wanted, and I hadn't even thought about it. After all, a dog was on his way to me from the heavens, right? So I just said the first thing that came to mind - a yellow male.

The woman said, "Oh, sorry, I don't have any yellows at all. Just ten little black girls and one little white boy."

I took him, sight unseen, just like that, and drove a couple of hours through the snow to get him. I named that tiny puppy Orville, after a couple of famous Orvilles - Wright and Gibson.

So to get back to your question about why I'm writing this e-book, it's because the relationship that formed was life-saving. I pulled Orville out of the classifieds, but he's the one who rescued me.

When I saw the accidental picture that showed how closely Orville matched the dog in the clouds, it was one of those moments that make you smile. I didn't tell anyone about it, but it added to my sense of how my dog had been sent to me.

Orville traveled to Nepal with me. Because of his white fur, he was considered a halfway sacred animal. He became a celebrity there, but mostly it was for being a good dog. Kind to everyone, good with all animals, a swimmer, a fetcher. The Ambassador from Labrador.

And like every event in our lives that has meaning, or that we come to see as instructive for us, there seemed to be a profound message in Orville's life. It was a message made of a terrible lesson. Orville died young from cancer. Even that was part of the lesson. Even that was an opportunity for him to something heroic and selfless. Orville gave me his life. I know some people will snicker at that view of things, but not anyone who knows the power and goodness of animals. Their power to act selflessly is beyond what is normal for humans.

I'm prattling on too much, but in essence, The Dog in the Clouds is about the magic we all experience with our animals. It's about what a gift they are and how they can heal us. It's about how much love and respect they deserve for their courage and loyalty and love.

BrianBekerPuppy O w tennis ball

Pictured is Brian’s puppy who is in the book  

wow woof what an amazing story you have !  Have you known dogs before you saw the dog in the cloud?

Oh, yes, all over, but I never had a dog of my own. 

oh can you tell us a little bit about them?

We had family dogs when I was a kid, and then I got close to a few dogs working in Asia. I grew up with a beautiful German Shepherd named Luna who died in my arms. One dog I adopted in Thailand once allowed me to sew up his torn face with a sewing needle and thread, his head in my lap, trusting me, never even twitching. I've never met a dog I don't like.

Many of us dogs have that affect on people and it’s nice to hear how helpful you’ve been to another dog. Luna was a lucky dog to have you. What other experiences would you like to share with our readers about any dogs in your life before you saw the dog in the cloud?

I have been lucky - I've had a few moving experiences with animals. I worked on the adoption of a couple of leopards in Nepal. It was sad - the local authorities wouldn't try to release them back into the wild, but at least we were able to manage a caring home for them and a life together for two independently marooned cubs, one boy and one girl. I once had a few weeks to get close to an elephant. At the end of it she gave me a present, handed (trunked?) it right over her head. It's an elephant's vertebra, in exactly the shape of an elephant's head. It's one of the few possessions I always have wherever I live. I've had other strange connections with animals that always leave me feeling humbled to the size of a particle. 

One of the most profound was when a civet cat in the jungle walked up to me and lay down on my foot and let me stroke her for a couple of minutes. She wouldn't let anyone else touch her. And then she died. The feeling that a wild animal would come to you when she was dying - well, what do you make of that? 

That goes back to the e-book, because, like the picture of the dog in the clouds, there are pictures of everybody else, the elephants, the leopards, and this beautiful, wounded civet cat who died beside me in the jungle. When things like that happen, they make you think long and hard. They make you wonder shy you're being shown things, why these connections with animals exist. I really believe, just like I believed in the dog in the clouds, that there's a purpose to it, even if that purpose is just to explore the respect and love all animals deserve.

How long have you been working on this book project ?

I've been writing this and rewriting it for about three years. It's only now starting to come together. A large part of it was actually writing things so that the truths and connections could emerge. It's a more complex story than I thought, and requires more treatment of the context Orville was placed into.

What would you like readers to know about your project ?

That it's straight from the heart, that every word of it will be true, that telling that truth will probably expose me to some ridicule, but that I don't care. It's the best and most meaningful story I know. More than anything, it's a tribute to the greatest friend I ever had, who, even though he was dying, still found a way to give me his life. No one has moved me as deeply. He did what he did for me out of the purest love, and that's what all our dogs do. This book is going to be about him, and for him, and so all I am hoping for is the opportunity to write it. The rest will have to take care of itself.  

When do you expect to be finished with the e-book?

It'll take about a year to write, depending on how much money I can raise. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful and I can devote more time to it, hopefully sooner.

Do you have a dog in the house?

Not at the moment, but I'm next on the list for fostering with a Lab rescue here in LA. So, soon, hopefully! Also, I live in back of a house that has a 4-year-old Labradoodle who has become a great friend.

Good luck finding a puppy! What plans do you have for your new puppy in your life after the publication of A Dog in a Cloud?

My entire ambition in life is to be able to live with dogs again. I'm hopeful that the book will help that come true, that I'll be able to concentrate on not having to move around so much and work into a lifestyle in which I can take of a couple of dogs.

Has working on this project affected your life? In what ways?

It has made me more acutely aware of the blessing that animals are. It has made me think of all the things that their presence in our lives mean - how much fun they are, how much love they bring, what great examples they set, how profound the relationships with them are. The struggle to organize thoughts and write them is resulting in a constant flow of hopeful information, by which I mean that the truths I'm discovering by writing about Orville are things that are true not only for him or during that relationship - they're true for all of us and for all animals. That means that by examining this, the sense of loss is being replaced with a sense of hope, because I know that more such relationships with animals are in the future.

We have truly enjoyed your story. Is there anything at all that you would like people and dogs to know before we go?

This book project is being done as a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is a site where creative projects go to look for backing from a wider internet community. People who pledge aren't doing it out of charity - they get stuff in return. It's safe, easy and quick, in fact it's a couple of clicks to your Amazon account. And folks aren't charged unless the whole funding goal is met, so the projects they back will actually happen.

It would be great to have the support of this community. Here's the link. There's a 3-minute video with my beautiful boy Orville in it.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ambassador/the-dog-in-the-clouds-multimedia-e-book-dog-memoir

And thank you for all your great work and the ways you spread the word about being kind and respectful to animals. 

Thank you Brian Beker for a wonderful interview with Willie G, Dawg

We would like to congratulate Brian on his dog rescue story coming up number 1 on Daily Kos - it was at number one for eight hours, got 500 recommends and stayed on the Rec list for 24 hours. The story is about a Flying Dog Rescue. Here is the story for you to read too!

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/11/1090678/-Death-Row-Dog-Flies-Own-Rescue-Plane-from-Kill-Shelter-to-Freedom

 

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