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The Dog in the Clouds: a dog memoir in an e-book's video poster

A dog drops from the Kathmandu clouds into the life of a wounded man on the run and makes a sacrifice to save his human. (tag: dogs) Read more

pledged of $6,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on May 31, 2012.

A dog drops from the Kathmandu clouds into the life of a wounded man on the run and makes a sacrifice to save his human. (tag: dogs)

About this project


On completion of this Kickstarter campaign, The Oldest Man Ever, containing never-before-seen footage of 141-year-old Bir Narayan Choudhary. No one has lived longer, and this was the last time he was filmed. In other words, there is no film in existence of anyone older. This footage is exclusive to this project's K-backers, so anyone pledging by 6 PM Pacific on Thursday, May 31st will be among the 100 or so people alive ever to have seen a person this old.

NEW GOAL: $7000

Thanks everybody! We made it to the minimum funding goal, but there's no reason to call it quits.

The campaign runs until Thursday at 6 PM Pacific Time. Let's join the Kickstarter projects that exceed their goals. The rewards are still up, and they're all the same.

This project has attracted the greatest backers, and lots of them are hanging out at the facebook project page, where the motto is, "Every dog is worth bragging about. This is the place to do it." Stop by and post pictures and share stories about your dog.

There's also news of my Labrador rescue foster Tanner - check out this beautiful dog there. Plus, he needs a permanent home, if anyone happens to be looking for a sweet, good dog. Talk about the ultimate reward!

You guys are the greatest. Let's keep it going until the end.

An e-book project

Orville’s life was captured in thousands of photographs and hours of video. New e-book formats allow for the seamless combination of a book-length text with video and high-resolution images, making them perfect for a project that has as much of a visual element as it does a narrative one. An e-book is uniquely suited to the in-depth treatment of Orville’s life planned for The Dog in the Clouds

One of the best things about this e-book will be its convenient and fun ways to share the abundant visual material with children. Anyone who loves dogs will love this project.

The Rewards

The rewards are all as straight from the heart as the book will be.

You’ll start receiving your Kickstarter rewards right away - as soon as the project is funded.

The downloadable items - desktop wallpaper and the link to the film - will be made available upon successful funding. The footage of the oldest man who ever lived will blow you away. Orville was with me when I went to interview this amazing 141-year-old man in a remote area of southern Nepal. He died soon afterwards, and I’ve never been able to find any other footage of him later than this, so as backers of this project, you’ll see - on a completely exclusive basis - the oldest person ever recorded. Curious?

The 16-millimeter film work print from my film Lines of Fire was actual evidence provided to the government of Sweden in a New York Times LTE that resulted in the halting of their arms trafficking to the brutal military regime in Burma. That  earned me the best film review I ever got: a death sentence for espionage. The film went on to premiere at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was chosen to open the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences documentary series. 

The original pictures were all tacked to the wall of our house in Colorado. When I put those pictures up, I came across an amazing picture from Orville’s puppyhood, six years before, that showed something eerie about the future, and it’s an event that figures prominently in the story.

So, the downloads will be available immediately upon funding; the film strips, original pictures and black-and-white prints will go out in the mail within a month or two of funding.

The charms for your pet’s collar will arrive before Christmas. I’ll deliver asap, but each one will have to be individually selected with special love and care. They will be beautiful.

The photographic prints will be custom silver gelatin prints that I will make personally.

The e-book will be delivered the minute it's done, and in the meantime all backers will be kept up to date.

The Story

I saw a dog in the clouds over Kathmandu once. I looked for him for two years before I gave up and grabbed the first puppy I could find out of the classifieds one day. 

The Dog in the Clouds is the inspiring non-fiction memoir about a dog named Orville who was born in Colorado and raised in America and in the Himalayas. It’s a dog memoir - or “dogoir”, as the New York Times recently christened the genre - a travel book, an adventure tale and a love story about a dog’s help in a struggle with profound injury and human failings. It will be a full-length book, enhanced with still images and video, and a testament to one of the most fun things a human can ever be blessed with: life with a dog and the powerful way our animals help us experience life’s hidden magic.

After being crushed (legs, arm, head) in a wreck, then later paralyzed by a spinal cord tumor, I ran off to lick my wounds. I had worked in south Asia for years, and that’s where I went to hide out. I was desperate for an idea, for a way to carry on. In the middle of a sleepless night at a dilapidated guest house I found myself alone on a rooftop, shivering and getting soaked in a Himalayan thunderstorm. The clouds parted, and a full moon illuminated a stunning celestial tableau. When I saw a dog in the clouds it left me breathless. The apparition only lasted a few seconds, just long enough to snap a picture before it blew away.

When I was smashed on the head it launched me into a state of perpetual perplexity. The relationships between even the simplest things were hard to understand. I was embarrassed and frightened, and I didn’t speak to anyone about it. It was easier to isolate myself. And of course I kept the whole dog-in-the-clouds business to myself, especially because I needed to believe in something and didn’t want to be ridiculed. I was convinced I had been shown a sign that that dog was on his way to me. The next day in Kathmandu, I started checking every dog I met against the dog in the clouds, and when I got back to the States I kept squinting at every dog I met and comparing them to that picture all the time.

After a couple of years I began to realize I would never get a dog by trying to match on earth one I had seen in the sky. With life at its bleakest during a blizzard one day, I gave up on the clouds and checked the classifieds instead. A woman on the phone out on the east Colorado prairie said she had a litter of eleven puppies ready to leave their mama that day - ten black girls chasing one little white boy half to death in endless circles around a corral. Someone had bitten a big hole through the puppy’s cheek, and the woman said she’d knock fifty bucks off him for the big scar it left.

Scarred, tormented and already discounted? He was the dog for me. I took him sight unseen and drove for hours in the snow to fetch him. He cried all the way home, sitting in my lap, stiff with fear.

Orville was a worried-looking seven-and-a-half week-old. I forgot all about the dog in the clouds.  The day I got him was the day I started getting better. 

The Dog in the Clouds is the story of the ensuing years. Traveling seemed to educate Orville, to expand his character and grow his confidence. And all the time he became more of a co-conspirator, able to don disguises and slip in and out of places dogs are not allowed. He pushed me to do things that forced me to heal, and at times it seemed as if he had been sent on a mission to do precisely that.

We can’t always help them back, though: Orville got cancer when he was six. I couldn’t save the dog who had saved me. And yet, he found a way to give me what was left of his life, in an act of courage and selflessness that I was too blinded by sadness to understand.

I wouldn’t understand it until I stood at the top of a mountain in another break in the clouds in the same sky where I had seen the dog in the clouds eight years earlier.

Was Orville the dog in the clouds? 

Whatever he was, he was a godsend, and that made him my dog in the clouds. And it taught me that every dog can be one of the dogs in the clouds. All it takes is for us to understand how brave, giving, noble and pure they are.

That’s what The Dog in the Clouds is all about.

A word before you go…

If you like the project, please back it now. Your pledge won’t be charged to your card unless the entire funding goal is reached. And because Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing funding model, your money won’t disappear in a project that can’t be completed. By backing it now you’ll help generate the buzz to get the job done.

Also, take a couple of minutes to post the project on Facebook and Google+, tweet about it and be sure to email your friends the link. These campaigns are dependent on folks spreading the word, and any time you do it'll be a big help. Make especially sure to share this with your friends who like dogs.

Please like The Dog in the Clouds on Facebook, and check there for day-to-day news. And here's the Twitter page, please go there and follow the project and tweet it out once in a while.

Thank you. 


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    12 backers

    RUNTS: Receive a beautiful color desktop wallpaper image from the high Himalayan temple in the ending of The Dog in the Clouds. Plus an exclusive, backer-only link to footage of The Oldest Man Who Ever Lived. This is the last known time this 141-year old man (LA Times obit link at bottom) was filmed, and it has never been screened. In other words, there is no film of anyone older in existence, and you’ll be the first to see it. The wallpaper download and this amazing footage will be available as soon as the project is funded.

    The names of all Runts and the pets who love them will be published in the e-book’s "Runts" thank-you list.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    37 backers

    Be in THE LITTER and you’ll get everything a Runt does, plus a download of the e-book as soon as it’s ready (please note, delivery dates are for immediate items and mailed items only).

    The names of everyone in The Litter and their pets will be published in the e-book’s “Good “Dogs” thank-you list.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $60 or more

    5 backers

    GOOD DOGS receive everything the guys in The Litter get, plus one of the original photographs of Orville from the wall of pictures that is important to the e-book’s story, along with a handmade thank-you card from Kathmandu, plus some frames of actual 16-millimeter film workprint, signed and numbered, showing captured weapons that earned Brian the best film review he ever got: a death sentence for espionage in Burma.

    All Good dogs and their pets will be published in the e-book’s “Good Dogs” thank-you list.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    14 backers

    If you join THE PACK you’ll get everything above, plus your pet will receive a handmade Ganesh (the elephant god and bringer of good luck) charm for your pet’s collar, each one made in India and individually selected (it will take a few months to get these, so no precise delivery date). International orders please add $5 for shipping. These will reach you well before Christmas.

    Pictures of the whole Pack and their pets will be published in our “The Pack” acknowledgements section of the e-book.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    4 backers

    BIG DOGS get everything a Good Dog gets, plus an 8” x 10” photographic (handmade, not computer-generated) print made from the original dog in the clouds negative.

    Pictures of all the Big Dogs and their pets will be published in the “Big Dogs” acknowledgements section of the e-book.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    2 backers

    ALPHA DOGS get all of the above with two copies of the e-book download; plus an original, signed and numbered 11” x 14” black-and-white photographic print made from the original Dog in the Clouds negative in an edition limited to the number of Kickstarter Alpha Dogs.

    The names and pictures of all the Alpha Dogs and their pets will be prominently displayed in the “Alpha Dogs” acknowledgements section in the e-book.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    2 backers

    LEADERS OF THE PACK get it all: five downloads of the desktop wallpaper and five downloads of the e-book, plus a 16” x 20” signed and framed black-and-white gelatin silver print made from the Dog in the Clouds negative in an edition limited to the Leaders of the Pack (instead of the smaller prints).

    And of course the names and pictures of all Leaders of the Pack will be super-prominently displayed in the “Leaders of the Pack” acknowledgements section in the e-book.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (31 days)