Updated: Mar 30, 2019
Mornings at the shelter were all about the same for Kiyoko - she wasn't a puppy anymore; at best guess she was ten years old, and rail thing. Her poor little elbows showed the unforgiving wear of long years without comfortable bedding. Easily 15 pounds underweight, her quiet, pleasant demeanor was largely overshadowed by the exuberant young dogs leaping at the fronts of their enclosures, vying for the attention of every passerby.
But that was before the special day, the day the magic happened.
Because magic comes, even in crowded shelters.
Sometimes it comes from far away.
On the island of Kauai, like most places, the shelters are crowded. There are far too many dogs discarded by hunters - the practice of pig hunting, like so many things, is handled better by some than others. Dogs come into the shelter horribly injured or starving at times, left to fend for themselves, or surrendered at advanced age when they are no longer useful. Shelter staff guessed Kiyoko had fallen behind her hunting pack because of her age, and became lost, and a caring soul brought her to the shelter, where she had remained, largely unnoticed by visitors, and stressed from the noise.
But, as I mentioned, that was BEFORE the magic happened.
Heidi Lezotte was visiting Hawaii and found a brochure of "things to do" on the island and found a "field trip program" through the Kauai Humane Society. When Heidi went to the Humane Society she asked for the oldest and most overlooked pup. Her heart exploded when she saw Kiyoko. Heidi described Kiyoko as a "beautiful and gentle soul who needs a family to love her". Heidi's heart was breaking thinking of her in a shelter at her age. Heidi spread her story through social media and paid her adoption fee to help her get placed quicker. Heidi believed she was overlooked due to her age and appearance. What Heidi saw was an amazing senior wanting to be loved, likely for the first time in her life. At first, Heidi was encouraging others to adopt Kiyoko...then...things changed. Heidi told me Kiyoko had not left her mind or heart since the moment she saw her. She could not leave the beautiful island without her.
A Facebook post later that day would read, "Today this beauty will go from being an island dog to a mainland dog in Wisconsin! It's a long haul for her, but compared to what she's already been through, these last few steps will get her to the life and family she deserves."
It's true that adopting the aged, the "sugar-faced" ones, can mean a shorter time together. But the time is sweet and the need is always there. Heidi loves all dogs but there is a special place in her heart from the senior, the overlooked and the medical dogs. She hopes one day to have a sanctuary for those furkids to live out their lives feeling love, care and comfort. All dogs deserve that.