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This Man's Heartbreaking Tribute To His Dog Is Incredibly Moving

"There's no easy way to say goodbye to a friend."

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For more than 14 years, Oregon-based photographer Ben Moon and his dog, Denali, were best friends. They traveled all over the West, sharing a "nomadic" lifestyle.

The photographer told BuzzFeed News that at first, he wasn't even sure he wanted a dog. But when he saw Denali at the shelter, they instantly connected. "I don’t know, it was one of those things where I felt like he kind of chose me," he said.

Denali was there for all of Moon's good and bad life moments. One of those times was when Moon was diagnosed with Stage 3+ colorectal cancer in 2004.

Moon said that while he was being treated for cancer, his dog was a constant source of strength and support.

"The thing that’s really special about dogs is they're just there for you, and they don’t really expect anything," he said.

Denali would crawl into bed with Moon as he laid in a hospital bed, and was always cautious with the medical equipment. After Moon recovered, the pair headed back out on their adventures.

Having a friend to endure the highs and lows of life with was invaluable for Moon.

"You're growing into adulthood and this one constant was there," he said.

A decade after Moon beat cancer, Denali began his own battle against the disease. As it became clear his time was growing short, the pair was filmed by a friend at their favorite place, the beach.

Moon said his friend had the idea of filming the two before Denali died "because he saw the bond there."

“I asked my dog if he could please stick around [for the shoot], because it would mean a lot to me," he said.

The footage from the day is now a short film, called Denali. The film, told from the dog's point of view, is a tribute to the special bond between a man and his dog.

In the film, a voiceover for Denali says he's "pretty sure" Moon knows that he's dying, and reflects on all of the good and hard times they shared together.

Felt Soul Media / Via

He discusses how the two camped, did yoga, and explored together. He says he eventually became "too handsome to ignore," so Moon often photographed him.

Felt Soul Media / Via

As their time together grew short, Denali says he thinks most people would have left their dog at home, but Moon insisted on seeing their favorite places one more time.

Felt Soul Media / Via

The film concludes that humans can learn a lot from dogs. "When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy."

Felt Soul Media / Via

The film, which was directed by Ben Knight, won the People's Choice Award and the Best in Show at the 5Point Film Festival earlier this year.

Despite the accolades, Moon said he's more focused on sharing the film with as many people as possible than on winning awards. “I was hoping it would be able to touch those who didn’t even have a dog," he said.

In particular, Moon said he has been touched by how "heartfelt and genuine" the responses to the film have been. "It's a love story," he said.
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