Pōmaikaʻi: nvi. Good fortune, blessedness, blessing, profit, prosperity; prosperous, fortunate, beneficial, blessed, lucky; good luck, improvement (of property), welfare, benefits. [Source: Hawaiian Dictionary, Elbert/Pukui]
Pōmaikaʻi was the 2 month old Lab/Hound mix we bought from the Hawaiian Humane Society booth at Petco Kapolei just a few weeks after my mother’s passing. The intent was to ensure my dad had someone to keep him company after the decision was made that he would continue to live independently without moving in with us or vice versa. My dad choose the name Pōmaikaʻi (or Pomai for short) for its meaning (he has a thing for Hawaiian names having selected Pono, or righteousness, for our previous family dog).
Pomai at 2 months on October 2, 2010, the day we bought him.
And a blessing and good fortune he was both to us and to himself. Pomai, out of all the dogs we’ve owned, was by far the most loving and expressive of our dogs. He would give you the Fred Flintstone/Dino treatment as he’d jump in your lap and lick your face all over like he’d never see you again. In this sense he reminded me very much of my childhood dog Chico who passed away a year ago who was the bright spot in my mother’s life during her retirement years.
A lab/hound mix he was just INCREDIBLY handsome and adorable in every way and was just a huge furball of energy. That energy was perhaps the one thing though that always got him in trouble. With his youthful vigor his was more then my poor 81-year old dad could handle and my dad being my dad just threw up his hands. Poor Pomai, while well fed, didn’t get the attention or training he needed and deserved (we could do only so much on weekends).
Adding to the complication of things? Our bundle of energetic joy developed a bad habit of learning to scale chain linked gates. It started during his first few weeks with us when we were caring for him to be potty trained. We’d kennel him while we’d go to work to teach him to be ok in an enclosed area. In his kennel we’d leave ample toys and water to keep him occupied. When we would get home from work he’d be out and about roaming the house and some of our stuff would be shredded! In the evenings we would kennel him while we slept to train him. In the middle of the night we’d hear a thud and he’d come running in and jump in bed with us. One final try we’d lock him in and within minutes before our very eyes he was climbing up the fence and jumped out right in front of us. Our little furball knew how to scale a fence — and he was just a few months old.
Pomai and Me, March 2011.
Fast forward several months into the future to my dad’s place. It’s March 2011 and an 8 month old Pomai greats me as I pull up to my dad’s place by HOPING OVER THE FENCE and jumping into my arms before I could even open the gate. While I thought it was really cute I knew we had a problem. For the next few weeks he’d continue to hop up the fence to greet me despite our admonishments. And then the worst came…
It was April, 2011 and I was in D.C. on business when my dad calls me on my cell at the hotel to say Pomai ran away. According to the neighbors (dad was out doing errands when the incident occurred) he scaled the fence to run after the garbage truck. (Dad did mention he’d always bark at and chase the garbage truck when they’d come by — just INSIDE the fence). For whatever reason our boy felt compelled to run and chase after the truck LITERALLY this time out. And with that our baby lab was missing and our hearts broken. As time went on and our search efforts proved futile we accepted the fact that we more than likely would never see him again.
And in July the Miracle of Miracles happened. I was in dance class when my dad frantically buzzes my cell saying the Humane Society found Pomai. I unceremoniously bolt from class and head out to my dad’s in the middle of the night to see my long lost doggie.
Pomai, just minutes after being brought home by the Humane Society after being missing for 3 months gulping down gallons of water and tons of food.
I pulled in to my dad’s and rushed through the gate and was greeted by those cute puppy eyes and warm tongue I thought I’d never see again in this lifetime. He looked a little worse for wear but the same loving boy I knew was back home safe and sound.
After being missing for 3 months it truly was a miracle he was found alive. Where had he been throughout all that time? Only God knows for sure but I’d like to think my mom’s spirit followed him, guided him and kept him safe during that time and ultimately helped bring him home.
And life with Pomai resumed, but with some complications. Being a jumper he was now chained 24-7 in the garage. He was no longer a house dog as my dad refused to let him in the house citing his “destructive nature” (of course my dad refused to accept responsibility for NOT training or paying attention to him). During the interim when Pomai had ran away I’d bought my dad a Chihuahua assuming perhaps a smaller, more mellow animal would be easier for him to manage. She indeed was but now my poor dad had TWO animals to manage. And poor Pomai got the short end of the deal. Always chained, often ignored aside from meals it was not much of a life for our boy aside from our weekend visits to check-up and play with him (literally the only time he’d be off leash).
Playing fetch with Pomai in the yard. The only time he’d be off leash during the week.
We tried to make it work. I taught my dad how to walk Pomai to help release some of his pent up energy. That went ok for a week or two until my dad was pulled to the ground a few times when Pomai would bolt to go after the garbage truck or play with other dogs they’d encounter during their walks. We attempted to hire a trainer to help cure him of his garbage truck fetish, fence scaling habit and any other behavior issues. My dad refused. In essence dad made up his mind, he didn’t want Pomai anymore.
Pomai playing with sister Sasha during a visit.
All worn out after a play session.
What to do on our end? We couldn’t take him in at our place as we’d reached the max number of pets our homeowner’s association allows. Friends and family were either not interested or not resourced enough to care for him. Our only alternative? Craigslist add.
And thus the beginning of the end of our time with Pomai started and the first, crazy chapter of his life would come to a close.
Today was our last day with our baby lab/hound. We found a good family for him. While we had a few prospective takers we chose to let him go with the first interviewee as it was just a great match. We found a young family with a young son and stay-at-home mom who can keep Pomai company all day. They’re very well experienced with dogs. Most importantly for me was the young boy, age 2, in this family. Given the young ages of Pomai (just over a year) and the boy what appealed to me the most was the fact they both could grow up together and being both at the same energy level they could occupy each other all day.
Pomai and his new bff.
I’ve always felt every boy should have a dog and for this young child I am only too happy. And of course, for my little furry baby, I’m just glad he’s able to have a good home that can give him the full love and attention he deserves and that he’s not reduced to life on a chain in a garage with freedom only coming in a few short hour spurts on weekends.
Do I wish that home could have been with us? Of course. I still remember the night we brought Pomai home from the HHS. I still remember those first few weeks training him and those nights cuddling with him in bed sleeping at night or napping during the day. I remember the touch of his paw, the feel of his tongue all over my face. I remember those greetings when he’d fling himself over the fence into my arms to say hi, being so happy to see me. I remember the anxiety of worrying about him in my hotel room in D.C. the day he went missing. I remember the hours spent canvassing the neighborhoods out in Wai’anae in the hot sun with Sasha (our beagle) trying to track his scent. I remember the joy on the night we got him back and the hours of fun walking him and playing with him the yard. I remember the joy of feeding him his treats every time he mastered a new trick. But most of all, I remember the dog who loved unconditionally and who would “kill his brother and sister with kindness.” (Rocky and Sasha didn’t really like him, too irritating). It would be so funny as whenever Pomai would walk by them they’d growl at him and he would simply respond by licking them on their heads (he’s way taller than both).
Am I sad and heartbroken we had to give up the baby furball we raised from two months of age, lost and found and rehabbed? Yes, most definitely. But I’m happy for the young family and the little boy who will spend the next 15 years or so of his life with the most loving dog I ever knew. And I’m happy my baby doggie has a good home that will reciprocate the love he gives so unconditionally.
To my baby lab/hound pup, I’ll always love you. Mommy, daddy and grandma will always be with you wherever you wind up in the world (they’re a military family) on your journey through life. You truly are a blessing to all of us and good luck will always follow you wherever you go.
Pomai and his (first) Mama
Pomai and I saying our final goodbyes before we hand him off permanently…
Our first and last family photo with Pomai before giving him up…
Full photo set of our time with Pomai here.