We recently located to a little town on the island of Oahu called Moiliili (Moe-eely-eely). It’s a nice area that sits beneath the beautiful Manoa (Mah-noh-ah) Valley. Almost directly across the street from our apartment is a Hawaii Humane Society location. The Humane Society, for those who don’t know, is where you go to adopt a pet.
When my twelve-year old daughter asked me to go with her and visit the animals, my first thought was “No way, that will be too depressing”. I think, no, I know that I’m still traumatized from having to give up our kittens when we moved over here. We tried really hard to find them homes, but it just didn’t happen. I don’t understand why either. They were so adorable, and all of them spayed or neutere
I hadn’t planned on having any pets, much less falling head over heels in love with them. It all started when some mean person dropped a bunch of kittens off throughout our apartment complex. One little critter started hanging out in our hallway. We kind of made a joint adoption of “him” with the bachelor pad next door and we all started feeding “him” in our mutual doorway. All of a sudden, “he” was pregnant. Before we had time to remember that cats don’t wait nine months to give birth, there was an unassisted delivery underneath the building.
We arrived in the nick of time to rescue the newly christened “Mama Kitty” and her seven babies from the mongoose tribe that was gathering on the perimeter of the building, plotting a kitty dinner. There was no place to take them but inside. Mama Kitty promptly took them all of the baking pan we brought them up with and relocated them underneath my bed. Three of them didn’t make it, but the remainder thrived. My favorite was the runt, Mary Jane, but we were both extremely attached to Mama Kitty, Goldie, Nala, and Doobie as well.
Then we decided to move to another island, found an apartment, but found out we couldn’t have pets. Finding a different place was not an option, we were forced to give them up. Which brings us back to the point of my rambling – the Hawaii Humane Society. I was so distraught when I took them in that I couldn’t even speak. My friend had to do all the talking because I ran out the door after handing off Mary Jane and had a mental breakdown in the car. I couldn’t stand the sight of the cages my babies would be sitting in, while they waited for a new home. Which is why I thought it would be too depressing to visit the Humane Society in our new neighborhood.
Eventually I went. I think it was the 20th invitation. And I’m so glad I did. It’s a beautiful facility that seems more like a pet hotel than a place for homeless animals. There’s a park area where people can bring their dogs to play. The “Cat House” consists of three connected rooms. One for adult cats, one for young adults, and one for the very young. Most aren’t in cages, but sleeping in pet beds and lounging all over the place. The ones that needed to be in cages for health reasons, had plenty of room and beautiful hand made baby blankets lining their cages!
Even though we aren’t “official volunteers” we are able to freely roam from room to room giving love and attention to all the furry felines. A friendly student volunteer named Brendan who comes in every Wednesday afternoon filled us in on their names and what shifts are available for volunteering.
The dogs were lined up in clean cages, the concrete floor had been freshly hosed down, and each one had some kind of bone or toy. The ones not in their cages were strolling down the street with volunteers or playing with kids in the “acquaintance area,” where families get a chance to see how their potential new family member will blend in.
There were green-aproned volunteers all over the place. As we were leaving, a group of about 20 more high school students showed up for the early evening shift. Of course, we were too busy reading over our brochures, figuring out what we need to do to be a part of it all.
So as I write this, my daughter is filling out our volunteer application. She’s not old enough to go without an adult. We will be going to an orientation class soon and signing up for a six-month commitment. Who knows? Maybe I have a junior veterinarian on my hands. If not, I know for sure I have a great kid who wants to spend her free time contributing to her community by caring for animals instead of sitting around watching sitcom reruns. I must be doing something right .