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Surrounded by Dogs, Dogs, Dogs
March 25, 2012 - Ray Tsuchiyama
Each morning when I hurriedly gulp coffee, eat my granola and milk, and dash to my car in my Kihei apartment parking lot for my Kahului commute, I often encounter my neighbor walking his dog. It is the only time I ever encounter him, and my spouse C. and I have remarked how quiet the dog is (it is quite large) and if we never saw our neighbor with the dog, we would never have thought a dog was next door in our building. But he is not the only pet-owner in our complex – there are pet dogs everywhere in our neighborhood.
In the evening when I often grill opakapaka or chicken thighs, the same neighborhood older gentleman passes by with a small dog, a terrier, I think. The dog and I glance at each other, and I also say hello to the owner.
A few nights ago, another neighbor dropped by to inform us (very kind of her) that our car lights were on. Yes, she too was walking her small dog, a poodle, I think (I have no idea about dog species, other than a cocker spaniel, pit bull or German Shephard).
And during our sunset walks along the beach we encounter a friend with – yes, another dog (this one is quite energetic, slim, and rolls a tennis ball in front of us for us to throw into the surf – the dog swims out and retrieves it).
Our neighborhood is full of dogs.
Influenced by this pro-canine world, even spouse C. has mentioned she thought a small dog would be a good companion (our daughter is on the Mainland and we are empty-nesters, and suffer from "empty nest" syndrome). I would defend the right for people to keep pets, if they are quiet, but I don’t know if I would like the responsibility of keeping a small animal happy (I never had a pet in my life). Dogs seem to have their own peculiar level of stress, hierarchy, and marking off their territory, just like humans and their homes and lots, and I have not enough time to deal with other humans, let alone schedule food feedings and beach walks.
As pet-owners age, their pets also age at an accelerated animal rate (we have seen dogs plodding along in the sand, barely keeping up with their equally slow-moving owners on the Kihei beach). It must be sad for owners when pets pass away. I don’t know if there is a pet cemetery on Maui, but with the number of pets throughout Kihei I have encountered, a nice “Forest Lawn” for pets with grassy expanses, trees, and reflective pools may be a soothing environment for lonely pet-owners, whose lives were most likely prolonged by the pets, and also a bit happier.
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