If I died and my spirit could come back as a dog, I would come back as a dog at Kumu Aina. Though it has never happened to us exactly, city folk are known to drive out to the country and drop off a dog or two in hopes that they are taken in by a farmer. I couldn’t imagine doing that to a dog because the thought of them being alone, hungry and confused breaks my heart. But a dog’s life on the farm might possibly be the best life for a dog.
People often come to my farm and ask one of my seven dogs to do a basic command like “sit.” This almost always brings a smile to my face because my dogs know lots of weird commands and sit isn’t one of them. Now they know commands (and they sometimes choose not to listen, mind you) like “No Cows,” “Go Home”, “No Chasing”, “Let’s Go”, “This Way”, “Stay With Me”, “To Me”, “No Chickens,” and “In The House”.
I never planned to have seven dogs, but seven dogs I have. Since our nine acres are fenced in, we keep the same dogs year after year unlike some of my neighbors who are always losing their dogs and getting new ones. In our neighborhood, when you lose a dog, it has most likely gone off chasing a wild pig and gotten lost or tangled in jungle vines, or killed by that pig; or has chased someone’s livestock and gotten shot. Before the fence, I had my share of wild dogs injuring and sometimes killing my sheep ergo the fence.
I still have a dog that we got at the pound in Florida on the farm. He might just be the one with the biggest personality. His name is Dweezel or Dweezie. He’s a mutt and I really don’t know his crosses but he has signs of terrier and chow. He is nine years old and a little slower than he used to be. Dweezie is known as the fruit hound. He stopped eating his kibble one day and only wanted crunchies (vegetables) and fruit. He loves carrots, cabbage, cucumbers and basically anything that goes crunch except for celery. The Dweeze once fought a horse for a jackfruit. He steals fruit from the cows and precariously jeopardizes his life, vying for fruit from our 1,000 pound cows. Before the fence he’d steal fruit from the neighbors. One day he came home carrying a pineapple. He’d also steal dog toys, dolls and once an airline neck-pillow.
Dweezie is also a brave dog or stupid. Before the fence, we’d get wild boars rummaging for dropped fruit. Wild boars have large teeth, daggers really. One night, in the rain, Dweezie came into the kitchen dripping blood. That night I called all the vets, retired doctors, nurses, friends and everybody I knew in the neighborhood whom I thought could help. I would have called the President if I thought he could help. We had to stabilize him and prevent infection and wait until early morning to drive him to the vet where he got internal and external stitches with drains. Two days later he was running around here like nothing happened and refused to take any of the drugs prescribed. He had received two deep gashes, one 3 inches the other 4 inches from that boar’s teeth. The vet said he just missed getting hit in the vein or artery. After that, he’s crossed a few pig’s paths and he’s received minor injuries in the process but nothing serious.
We got Baca from a neighbor. She’s a black lab cross possibly pit. All Hawaiian dogs are pit mixes. She’s our oldest dog at approximately 13 years old. When we got her she was six, a tad over weight and had a limp. The neighbor, who a friend hooked us up with, said he was moving and wanted to find her a new home. We never saw that neighbor again and I believe he still lives there in that same house. When we got her, her name was Mr. Bonkers. With a name like that, we just had to take her in and give her back some dignity. With exercise and glucosamine supplements she recovered quickly from her limp. People often tell us that Baca means “stupid” in Japanese. Well, we’re not in Japan. She’s graying and deaf so she doesn’t venture too far from her couch.
Noble is our border collie alpha dog. He’s four and somewhat larger than your normal-sized collie. He was so big that during his birth there had to be an emergency C-section and there was only room for one other dog in that womb, his sister. Noble was brought into this world by extenuating circumstance. His father impregnated his mother, while the kind breeder was out of town and at the time my friends Ruth and Doug were watching the farm/kennel. No one knew who the father was and DNA testing is expensive, so Noble was discounted and affordable. We went through several Hawaiian names before we settled on “Noble,” which is my husband’s middle name and a family name. Noble is a great dog. He has lived up to his name by siring 27 puppies with three dams.
Noble was 11 months old when he impregnated Alohi, which means “sparkle” in Hawaiian. She had sparkling blue eyes, like ice really. Alohi had an unfortunate accident and has passed away but she was such a great dog. She was truly a “poi” dog…having many mixes, and mixes of mixes, and of course, pit. Mostly she looked like a Jack Russell with the muscles and coloring of a pit. She was brought to our farm by a work trader (Mialani, I love you) and when she moved on, the dog stayed. She was a great jungle dog. I loved to take her there and she would have made a great pig dog (hunting dog) if she wasn’t such a small dog. So small, in fact, that we never thought that Alohi and Noble would ever mate. Never say never. Alohi had 11 puppies, and she and all 11 puppies survived. It took 10 hours for her to birth that many. Thank you Rayna for helping me on that day. It was a great day. I got to witness the full cycle of a dogs life and it is a precious gift to own. Every time I run into a owner of Alohi’s puppies, they tell me how much they love their dog and what a great dog it is. I know, I have two of them.
Regal and Bandanna are Alohi’s pups. Bandanna actually chose us and has become Bob’s (my husband) favorite. When she was just a wee pup, when all the other pups were running around or sleeping, she called out to us each night next to our bed. So we boosted her up, and obliged her. She still sleeps next to Bob’s head every night. She’s a great dog and she kills our mongoose, and with her pack is an effective, efficient huntress. Very smart and loving.
Regal was the first born and male, like his poppa. I assisted in his birth at 5:25 am April 10th. I advertised the puppies by putting fliers up. I got a call from a woman who wanted a dog and Regal was the last puppy to go. I walked Regal to the gate and when she pulled up, Regal bolted. I had to chase him and retrieve him. I should have known something was up. She pulled up in a run down truck with her daughter-in-law and picked up Regal and smiled in that Cruella De Vil way. Regal was going to live indoors and be a loved and cherished pet. He was the last to go and I really wanted him to go. Puppies are a lot of work and I was tired.
About a month later, I saw a bulletin posted that was offering up a Borderjack for sale and I knew it was Regal and I called the number. We met the son in a parking lot and Regal was riding in the back of his truck, dirty, skinny and frightened. I pretended I didn’t know Regal because the son did not know me and I didn’t want him to. I acted like I didn’t want Regal, to get the price down and it worked. Soon he was riding in the car and it took all I had to get to the grocery store around the corner to hold him. My friend, Tashia, went into the store to buy some dog food and I was alone with Regal to comfort him, say I was sorry and cry.
They tried to make a hunting dog or pig dog out of him and even though I told Cruella that he was a dwarf…short legs like his Jack Russel-mix mom, she must not have believed me. So, when they finally realized he wouldn’t make a good hunting dog they put him up for sale. These people wouldn’t take him to the pound, they wanted something for him.
I brought Regal home and lavished him with attention and love and boy did he need it. He had only gained one pound since he left where his sister Bandanna had doubled in size. He walked around like Eeyore not holding his tail up or wagging it. After all, he had spent a month in pig dog school; sleep deprivation, bullying and starvation. It took a lot of time and effort to get Regal back to the pup he once was and to shake him of his pig dog lessons. Regal, The Rig or Reegie is my dog. He is devoted to me and is never far from my site. In fact, the kids on the farm call the area around my chair the “Terri-torry” because Regal defends it and me.
Around the same time that the pups were born, Noble’s border collie girlfriend, Elkie down the road gave birth to 5 border collies and we were promised the pick of the litter. We took Ku’uipo or Sweetheart in Hawaiian. Bob started calling her Poops and then so did everyone else. As it turned out, it would not be the last of her name changes. She was beautiful, not a freckle to be found on her pelt. We jokingly called her the Marlyn Monroe of border collies. Bob and I had our hands full with the other dogs and Poops was on the list in last place. She did annoying things to like jump out of no where and lick your face. We were constantly reprimanding her and she was getting hardly any positive feedback. We decided to rehome her so that she could get what she wanted and deserved, a loving home with plenty of attention. We found a suitable home and Poop became known as Kona, and we sold her for $150. What a relief when she was gone, even the other dogs seemed to think so. It was hard but it was also good.
Five months went by and I got a phone call from Poop’s new mom who was desperate and crying. Poops was coming home. It was all I needed really, but the new Mom was going to take her to the pound and was certain that they’d put her down for being a nipper. It’s a border collie trait and Poops had nipped two people, too many. Poop’s new mom dropped her off and stuffed $40 in my pocket and hurried off. It was sad to see Kona, the dog I didn’t know, run along the fence line as her former Mom drove off. It brought a tear to my eye.
Poops came back a better dog. She was trained, had received the love she desperately needed, and stopped leaping into your face. We often laugh that someone paid us $190 to train our dog for us. Thank you sincerely.
Perhaps the saddest story, even sadder than Regal even though there is a good ending is Eclipse. Eclipse or Clippy was the last born puppy of Bandanna. One of twelve. She was both first puppy to have a home and the last puppy to have a home. She was six weeks old when she was injured during a potential puppy buyer’s visit. It was an accident but one I took responsibility for. She was dropped or squeezed and suffered a broken back. She was a paraplegic. For weeks I kept her by my side and changed her diapers, stayed up with her, fed her, played with her and worked with her. First, she started moving her front legs and then eventually her back legs. Soon she was strong enough to walk, hopping with her back legs. She had no control over her bowels. For six months, I would get up and take her out in the middle of the night and clean up after her before I had to make the choice of making her an outdoor dog. After all, this is Hawaii, not Alaska. She’s a year old now, walks and even runs fast and has started to wag her tail. She’s mine, I love her, no one else would have her.
Dogs are just the best. Noble runs the farm and oversees the moving of every animal on the farm. He gives everyone a warm greeting and a kiss each day. Poops is Noble’s reliable assistant. Regal keeps out the rif-raf. Bandanna keeps our chickens safe by killing off the mongoose. Dweezel is the farm clown. Clippy is the miracle dog and Baca keeps the couch warm. Truly an amazing pack of dogs who have found their farm at Kumu Aina.