Finally made it to the shore for sunrise this morning! I must finally be feeling better.
Today was a brand new activity for us, even though we spent it visiting a few places we’ve been before. Today we took a dog from the Kaua’i Humane Society out for a field trip! What a seriously great program this is! The humane society lets island visitors select a dog that’s been approved for field trips, puts a little “Adopt Me” vest on them, and sends them out for a day in the parks, at the beach, or around town. Recognizing there’s some risk in handing a dog to an unknown person, they take your credit card number to charge you $200 in the event you don’t return the dog. And then, you’re on your way!
The shelter opened at 11:00 today and we wanted to get there right on time. Primarily this was because the dogs have to be returned by 5:30 and we wanted as much time as possible out and about, but we joked about there being a line and not being able to get a dog for the day. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t have joked! We got there at about 11:10 after a quick stop at the discount store to get a towel for the back seat and a wash cloth for paw wiping. By the time we got to the shelter, three other groups had already selecting their dogs for the day, and another few sets were looking through the kennels for their match!
Not all of the dogs are cleared for the activity – some are too new, have just had surgery, or probably haven’t had (or have failed) temperament testing. So we rushed into the kennels and took a look at the dogs that had a golden ticket for the day. I was quickly drawn to Dallas, a brindle pit mix. He was a bit of a larger dog than we had planned on, but brindle coats always draw me in with the way they look like tortoiseshell cats. 🙂
I went up to the desk and told them we’d take Dallas if he was available, and he was! Meanwhile, I noticed the young couple next to me at the desk were taking out William, a young red pit mix. William was going to be our choice if Dallas had already been claimed, and I mentioned it to them. They replied with a grin that Dallas had been their back-up plan, too, and we were all glad that both dogs were getting a day out.
We had planned to start our day by going to the West Kaua’i Craft Fair in Waimea. However, after driving all the way there, the fair turned out to be two pretty lackluster tables in the park. Maybe it’s better other days. So, we turned around and headed back to the Po’ipu area. Dallas seemed a bit disappointed that the ride was longer than expected and gave a couple of big sighs before settling down for a resigned nap in the back seat.
We hurried along, and decided to take a break from the drive for a walk around Koloa. It’s only a few miles from Po’ipu, but it presented a good opportunity to walk Dallas around an area where more people might get to see him for adopting purposes, and kind of took the place of the craft fair for the day. Holy cow, did he get attention! Not being a modern day dog owner, I have no idea if this is common or not, but I couldn’t believe the number of excited people asking if they could give Dallas a pat and just gushing over him, young and old alike. Is this what it’s like to walk around with a dog on a daily basis, or was it because we were walking around an area full of people who were missing their own dogs back home and Dallas’ vest clearly marked him as special?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that Dallas got lots of love in town.
From Koloa, we drove to Po’ipu to get lunch and then take a walk along the sandstone cliffs at the eastern edge of Shipwrecks beach.
Dallas was perfectly well-behaved in every instance and environment, never tugging on the leash and waiting patiently to gently take the dog biscuit from my fingers. Although his attention was laser-focused, he was even well-behaved when I was eating my Kalua pork lunch. I shared a few small pieces with him, but he never jumped up or took the food from my plate. One particularly funny moment was when I popped a small string of pork in his mouth and he didn’t realize it. He sat there waiting hopefully while the bit of meat sat stuck to his lolling tongue!
The only time he displayed any stubbornness was when we lost sight of Steve on the trail. On a few occasions, Steve would fall behind or walk in a different direction to take a photo. As soon as Steve got out of sight, Dallas would stop and pull back on the leash a little, then, if I didn’t turn around to go back, he’d wait for Steve to reappear before he would budge. Steve said Dallas just wouldn’t leave a man behind.
Wanting to maximize our time with Dallas, we tried to take a quick trip to a beach near Lihue to take one last walk. We got a little off-course, and ended up at the Kuki’i Point Lighthouse instead, a spot we’d never been to before. It was very disappointing to see all of the cast off bits of fishing line strewn all over the point. Yo bros! Respect for the ocean means not leaving your fishing line around for all the ocean critters to get tangled up in!
We were on the point for only about 10 minutes, most of which I spent walking Dallas around, but we still managed to collect a bunch of fishing line. Felt like the smallest drop in the bucket.
Dallas was a very happy dog and quite excited by all the attention he got as we walked around town, and he loved rolling in the grass as we waited for Steve to return with lunch. And, let’s just say, as a boy dog, his excitement was quite visible.
We had a great outing with Dallas! I know Steve had some concerns about it and did it mainly to humor me, but he agreed it was a good day and even used phrases like, “if we do this again. . .”
And here’s possibly the best part of the whole thing – the moment that really stood out to me was when we returned Dallas to the shelter. Every time we got back into the car throughout the day, Dallas would settle in the back seat with a sigh and I imagined he thought we were taking him back. Closer to the end of the day, he started contemplating how to best to become a front seat dog, and Steve commented that he was really working it. The moment I was dreading was pulling back up to the shelter and Dallas looking at us like, “You’re returning me? But I was so good and we had such a fun day!”
In reality, Dallas trotted back into the shelter with his tail wagging, running up to the caretaker who came out to get him with his dinner bowl in her hand. We got his attention to give him a good-bye scratch, but he otherwise might have headed off without a backward glance! He wasn’t stressed by being at the shelter, or depressed to be going back. Thinking back, none of the dogs we saw in the runs that morning had that horrible scared and depressed vibe that makes trips to the shelter so difficult.
Sure, of course it would be better for these dogs to go to a home at night rather than to a run at the shelter, but they get to go out for long field trips, and get lots of love and attention. And the results really show. This is a brilliant program and one that should definitely be replicated in other high tourist, outdoorsy areas. Honestly, as dog-friendly as Marin County is, I’m surprised it isn’t happening there. Maybe they’re too hung up on possible liability.
I only wish there could be a similar program for the cats, but that’s a whole different ball of wax and it just doesn’t work the same way. There were some beautiful kitties there, some of whom locked eyes with us, trying desperately to keep our attention. I can only hope, based on what we saw of the facility and the volunteers working with the animals, that they get love and attention to keep them from getting depressed, too.
After we parted ways with Dallas, I filled out his little fieldtrip diary, talking about how great he was with other dogs he met and with people, both kids and adults, and about how he was both calm and energetic. Having completed my trip evaluation, I read back at the details of his last few days out, where people talked about how great he was just hanging out on the beach, and how he liked to dig in the sand before settling down for a nap.
Steve and I joked that I had taken Dallas on a Death March vacation day just like I usually do for us, with Steve quipping that Dallas was back in his run writing his own evaluation of us – “Crazy lady who tries to do too much. Young dogs only!”
Maybe Dallas was so happy to get back to the shelter because he knew he could finally get a good nap!