Adopting a friend for life


POSTED: Monday, December 28, 2009

When we saw Kona it was love at first sight.

There she was, almost a year ago from today, this scraggly, black-and-white spaniel of some kind, with tangled, curly ears and a large set of eyes gazing up from behind the chain-link kennel at the Hawaiian Humane Society.

The papers said she was a 2-year-old English cocker spaniel. All we knew was that she was picked up as a stray on the Waianae Coast.

Other dogs were barking and jumping up and down for attention, but Kona just sat there by the gate, mellow and sweet. It was one of those magical moments—we knew right away she was the one, and adopted her that afternoon.

The bond was instant. Kona climbed in the back seat of the truck with me, her chin nestled in my lap during the whole ride home.

Every week, newspaper ads and pet stores advertise purebred English bulldogs, labs and exotic Malteses for anywhere between $500 and $1,400 per puppy. While there's a market for purebred puppies, there are so many dogs or cats out there looking for a home.

Here's the deal: You can certainly buy a purebred puppy, but adopting a pet cat or dog from a shelter will cost you less and be so much more rewarding. Not only are you giving an animal a second lease on life, but you're supporting the organizations that save these animals and you've got yourself a friend for life.

There are numerous organizations in Hawaii—with differing philosophies—but the overall goal is the same: to get animals adopted out to a home.

Here is what you get when you adopt from the Hawaiian Humane Society:

» Low fee: Adoption of cats and dogs is just $65. For dogs there's an additional $10 for a county license. Rabbits and smaller animals are $30 and less.

» Free care and microchip: Cats and dogs adopted from the Humane Society come spayed and neutered, with a microchip ID and first round of vaccinations, as well as deworming and a flea/tick preventative. There is also behavioral assistance for the pet's lifetime.

» Free initial vet care: The Humane Society offers vet care up to two weeks after adoption. Participating vets also offer a free initial checkup for adopted pets.

» Discounts: Many dog training and obedience classes also offer discounts for an adopted dog.

» A 30-day refund: The pets can be returned for a full refund of the adoption fee during a 30-day period. (But believe me, if they're like Kona, they seem to know this because she was on her best behavior the first 30 days.)

» Senior-for-seniors: The Humane Society is offering free adoption of a dog, or up to two cats ages 6 and older, to seniors age 60 and older.





        Hawaii Dog Foundation:


Oahu SPCA:


Friends for Life:


Animal CARE Foundation:


Hawaiian Humane Society:




There are other options, like working with a dog rescue group, a no-kill shelter like the Hawaii Dog Foundation, the fairly new Oahu SPCA, or taking in a re-homed pet instead of buying one new from a store.

In the year since we adopted her, Kona has taught us about the simple joys of life. She doesn't need a fancy dog bed or expensive toys to be happy.

Happiness is as simple as seeing us come home—which will set Kona off on a vigorous, hula-tail-wag dance (her whole back end wagging) for several minutes.

Life is about living in the moment and focusing on that one most important thing—getting a nibble of that chicken on our plate, for instance, and never giving up. Kona is a model of persistence.

Contentment is chewing on a bone, playing tug of war with the rope toy or snuggling up on the sofa on a chilly winter evening.

Sheer joy is as simple as a trip to the park to gallop across a field at full speed, with ears flopping and tongue hanging out.

It's unconditional love, as only a dog could give.

Dogs are a lot smarter than we think—they watch and observe, and can figure out, in Kona's case, how to open the louver windows and shimmy out (as Kona has several times, making her escape out the kitchen window).

Unless you're planning to compete in “;Best in Show,”; what does purebred matter anyway?

And even if you have a soft spot in your heart for a particular breed, wait patiently, and chances are it will show up at one of the shelters one day.

By now we figured Kona must be a tricolor springer spaniel mix of some kind, but it doesn't really matter because she's truly one of a kind. We may not have gotten purebred, but we got pure joy.

She'll be a part of our family, for always.

”;Here's the Deal”; helps consumers stretch dollars in these tough economic times. It runs every other Monday. Contact Nina Wu at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).