Memorial Montages

The enduring spiritual bonds between companion animals and their people

 2021/09/00-QB-with-Dog_ON-BEACH.-paintedjpg@3x.jpg Photo by Christopher Briscoe
Photo by Christopher Briscoe

About the Memorial Montages

“The comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but not that of having had one.” — Seneca the Younger

For those who have loved and lost a companion animal, Mutual Rescue created two timeless messages from the spirits of a dog (“Still Yours”) and cat (“Silent Paws”). Through photography, poetry, and music, these Memorial Montages illustrate the enduring bonds between companion animals and their people.

“Still Yours” was inspired by Robinson Jeffers’ hauntingly beautiful poem “The House-Dog’s Grave (Haig, an English bulldog).” For “Silent Paws,” contemporary poet Gabriel Spera wrote from the perspective of a cat spirit comforting people in mourning.

 

A note from Mutual Rescue’s executive producer

The idea for the Memorial Montages came about when my mother, Joan Waas, had to say goodbye to her beloved dog Trevor and suddenly found herself alone, lonely, and depressed. About a year later, just as Mutual Rescue was finalizing “Still Yours,” she was visiting from out of state. Naturally, I wanted her to be the first to see the Memorial Montage she’d inspired. We watched together in silence. As it ended, she could not speak for some moments afterwards. Tears streamed down her cheeks. 

When she returned home, she made a beeline to her local animal shelter, where a senior Australian cattle dog mix captured her heart. Zenzi had been found at a highway gas station during a severe thunderstorm. Still traumatized months later, she seemed so shy and despondent at the shelter that Joan adopted her. Together, they embarked on a new adventure in the twilight of their lives—just when each most needed the other.

Today, Zenzi is happy, secure, and no longer hides in the closet during thunderstorms. And Joan, with her watchful companion Zenzi always nearby, no longer feels isolated and lonely. “We are a Mutual Rescue story,” she tells everyone, beaming.

 

 

Contributing Artists

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Photography

Karen Mullarkey is an acclaimed photography editor (Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated). She is an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York. Mullarkey won the Joseph Sprague Award from the National Press Photographers Association for lifetime achievement in the field of photojournalism. For the Memorial Montages, she sourced and selected images from noted photographers nationwide, including Christopher Briscoe, Seth Casteel, four-time Pulitzer Prize recipient Carol Guzy, Theron Humphrey, and Kristi Johnson, among many others.

Poetry

Robinson Jeffers was a major American poet and environmentalist of the 20th century who lived most of his life on the central California coast. His moving poem “The House-Dog’s Grave,” published in 1941, was written from the perspective of his beloved late English bulldog, Haig, to the grieving poet. Excerpts of that poem appear in Mutual Rescue’s “Still Yours”” with the permission of Stanford University Press and the Jeffers Literary Properties.

 

Gabriel Spera has published two award-winning books of poetry. The first, The Standing Wave, was a National Poetry Series selection and also received the Literary Book Award in Poetry from PEN-USA West. The second, The Rigid Body, received the Richard Snyder Prize. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Los Angeles. His work appears widely, in print and online, and was featured on “American Life in Poetry.”

Music

Christopher Tin is a two-time Grammy-winning composer. His music has been performed and premiered in many of the world’s most prestigious venues—Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the United Nations—and by ensembles diverse as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Metropole Orkest, and U.S. Navy Band. His song “Baba Yetu,” originally written for the video game Civilization IV, holds the distinction of being the first piece of music written for a video game ever to win a Grammy Award. He is signed to an exclusive record deal with Universal under their legendary Decca label, and published by Concord and Boosey & Hawkes.

 

Alex Williamson is a composer, producer, and arranger for film, television, and games. His work with Mutual Rescue includes “Kimo & Jazz,” “Keema & Her Pack,” and “Bhuvana & Abhishek & Lollipop,” in addition to the Memorial Montages. As a frequent collaborator with Grammy-winning composer Christopher Tin, he has composed and arranged for a variety of films and games, including the blockbuster Civilization VI, PGA Tour 2K21, and the mobile hit Rise of Kingdoms. His advertising work has been featured in campaigns for such clients as Coca-Cola, Ford, Bud Light, and LG. Most recently, he provided the score for the upcoming political documentary Price Wars.

Production

Pete Bender has worked in the live event production field for more than 35 years. His work has been seen at the TED Conferences, TEDMED, EG Conferences, America’s Cup, and Curiosity Retreats. The Memorial Montages project reunited Bender with executive producer David Whitman and photography editor Karen Mullarkey. The trio had previously collaborated on several large-scale, one-performance-only multimedia experiences for Silicon Valley’s annual Tech Awards galas.