HAWAIIAN HUMANE SOCIETY
On the Likeke Trail in Kaneohe, dramatic rays of sun illuminate some of the Paws on the Path hikers.
Dogs bring extra fun to hiking trails
Liza Souza has a unique job at the Hawaiian Humane Society: She coordinates several outreach programs that enhance the lives of people and their animal companions. One of her programs promotes mingling among dogs and their people in outdoor settings of spectacular beauty. Singles, couples and families gather for a friendly hike with their dogs one morning each month.
March 25 is Maunawili Gulch Trail in Waimanalo. For directions, see the Events section at www.hawaiianhumane.org or call Liza Souza for more information at 356-2217.
» Foster Care Program, temporary care for very young or ill animals
» Pals, providing temporary pet care for those hospitalized or in an emergency
» Pet Loss Support Group, meeting monthly with those grieving the loss of a pet
» Pet Visitation Program, volunteers and their pets spread joy at hospitals and care facilities
» Pets in Housing, a list of pet-friendly housing on Oahu and database of available rentals
» Shelter Animal Behavior, training and socialization for pets waiting for homes
"The hiking group is named Paws on the Path, designed especially for those who want to hit the trail with a four-legged friend," said Souza. "It's a great way to meet people, get a little exercise and breathe some fresh air. My daughter, nephew and I recently hiked the Old Pali Road Trail with the group. The dogs seemed to have the best time of all.
"I like the history and mystery associated with the trail; it really interests me. The kids never seemed to get tired and enjoyed all the dogs. The scenery was amazing. I recommend the experience for all dog lovers."
A Hawaiian Humane Society volunteer leads the group on trails that are safe for people and dogs on the last Saturday of each month. There's no membership, no reservation required and no fee. The trails are usually rated novice and each month is something different.
Sherry Hunt has been instrumental in organizing the hikes since the group began. "We've been doing this every month for more than 10 years -- it's always a good time. The group size is usually from a dozen to 30 hikers. One month, we had 90 participants. Of course, there are adults and usually some kids, plus big dogs, little dogs, poi dogs and purebreds. It's a different group every month, but always warm and welcoming."
With the exception of the Makapuu Evening Hike in January, the hikes take place in the morning while the weather is still cool and comfortable. Hunt meets people and their dogs at the trail head at about 8:30 a.m., describes the terrain and answers questions, and then the hike begins by 8:45.
"The pace is brisk, with the more experienced hikers in front," said Souza. "Some dogs seem to run circles around their people because they're so excited. Except for the Aiea Loop, the group hikes the trail for about 45 minutes to an hour before stopping to rest, chat and enjoy a snack and some water. Then we come back the same way. You can just stop short and wait for the group to return, or go on back to the starting point early. We are back at the cars, dog tired, within a couple of hours."
"The dogs really enjoy the whole experience," said Hunt. "They love the companionship with their human family, the exercise, fun with other dogs, sniffing new places -- it's our dog Lex's favorite morning of the month. Once you learn the trail, you and your dog can go back any time."
Paws on the Path is one of the Hawaiian Humane Society's outreach programs that enrich the lives of humans and animals. For more information, go to www.hawaiianhumane.org and choose Other Programs, Paws on the Path. The Web page even includes photos of dogs from past hikes submitted by their proud people.
"Pet Ohana" runs the first and third Fridays of the month. The Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., is a nonprofit agency dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals. Call 946-2187.