Toni Polancy quickly discovered after moving here from the mainland that yard space, or lack thereof, poses a big problem for pet owners. The animal lover is shown with her pets, from left, Archie, Betty and Winky.

Pet project

A new title looks at
pet-friendly homes
and first-aid for Fido

Archie, Betty and Winky stare at Toni Polancy adoringly, but they're very well-behaved. Whatever she commands, they do, including lining up for a picture. This woman knows her way around animals.

"Pets," says Polancy, "are definitely personal."

Which is one reason she wrote and published "The Hawaii Pet Book," an encyclopedic compendium of what seems to be everything you need to know about keeping an animal companion in the islands. It's well-illustrated with terrific photographs of island pets, most taken by Honolulu Advertiser photographer Deborah Booker.


"The Hawaii Pet Book"
By Toni Polancy
Barefoot Publishing, $19.95
Soft cover, 340 pages

Although Polancy admits she's "always been a dog person," the book gives equal weight to cats and other animals. It came together partly because Polancy, an Erie, Penn., newspaper editor, divorced and moved to the islands, and "decided to get a dog for myself, for companionship.

"What was surprising, when you're living by yourself, is how attached you get to your little friends."

She began learning about keeping pets here, things she didn't consider in Pennsylvania. "One day my dog picked up a bufo in her little mouth in the park, and immediately began foaming at the mouth from the toxins. I didn't know what to do! So I began researching and taking notes."

The answer, by the way, is to wipe the dog's mouth with a dry towel, rubbing off the toxins instead of trying to flush it out with water.

"Other things were different from the mainland. Ticks are smaller and harder to find. And fleas -- fleas are year-round here. On the mainland, fleas are seasonal. The biggest problem here is finding a place for your dogs to run, which is easier on the mainland."

Her experiences as a malahini resulted in a best-selling guide called, "So You Want to Live in Hawaii," which she self-published, and a new career was born. ("Did you know 40 percent of the people who move here to live don't make it and have to return?")

The "Hawaii Pet Book" is a kind of sequel aimed at non-humans and their keepers. "Even finding a place to live can be difficult if you have a pet," said Polancy. "Some condos have restrictions on size and weight, and if you're renting, your landlord may not allow pets. What if you live in a small apartment? You won't be able to have a large pet.

"Some apartment buildings might even have dog runs outside and are pet-friendly, while others make you feel like a criminal for having a pet. Some reject pit bulls out of hand -- which is unfair -- because of their bad reputation, which is undeserved."

POLANCY'S MANIA for research has even resulted in a survey of pet-friendly buildings in Hawaii. She also asked the staff of the Hawaiian Humane Society for advice, and was surprised by some of their answers.

"For example, in Hawaii, many people play with Frisbees with their dogs in the park, and think it's fun to see the dogs leap and flip in the air trying to catch the Frisbees. But it turns out dogs can break their back doing that. Throw a Frisbee, throw it low and long so the dog chases it instead of leaping for it."

If your pet is injured, by the way, did you know that the Red Cross here gives first-aid classes geared toward pets? "They even have a dummy dog to practice mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on," said Polancy.

And in Hawaii, when walking your dog, don't be surprised if tourists stop and want to pet your animal. "They miss their own pets," said Polancy. "They need their dog fix."

Book signings

Author Toni Polancy, joined by her one-eyed dog Winky, will be signing books at the following locations:

Jan. 4 -- Borders Books and Music, Lihue; 2 p.m.

Jan. 9 -- Barnes & Noble, Kahala Mall; 7 p.m.

J an. 10 -- Borders Books and Music, Ward Centre; 2 p.m.

Jan. 11 -- Borders Books and Music, Waikele; noon

Jan. 17 -- Borders Books and Music, Kahului, Maui; noon

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.


E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Calendars]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --