My story begins with a bond greater than man, the best friend, the loyal canine.  When my ladyhood blossomed my smart folks partnered me with someone to occupy my time, teach me; restraint, patients, leadership and responsibility. Not a boyfriend?! Hoku…  On New Year of 2010 I was surprised with a big fur friend I had always asked for.  We ventured everywhere by bike and roller-skates, running Off-trail Hiking, Secluded beaches, Kayaking out to islands, and body surfing.

Hoku,  named after a previous Siamese cat that had passed when I was 6 from a hit and run. Naming holds layers of subconscious attachments and I never felt the power a name could hold, until I named Hoku; translates to star.  She loved to be the center of attention, a 50 lb beautiful brindle mix (boxer, greyhound, pitbull). Being stars…I wonder whether their lives were always meant to be in Heaven.

 Hoku kept me away from the dark pressures of Hawaiiʻs at risk youth underbelly. The harm reductionary Bufferer of caring for Hoku was a positive push but the pull of adolescence tidal rage, refused to be abandoned. Training was at loss when she smelled fear in other animals, her kind playful nature would flip into a hunterʻs instinct.   Shunned from play circles I feared she would never temperament well with any furry living heart that perspired fear.

With my knowledge of psychology today (2023), I understand that my brain was still developing and Hoku was mirroring my lack of inner assertion over my life and self.  She was supremely territorial and keenly skilled at escaping leashes/fences at any sign of weakness.   The sounds of her threatening a death and attempts for her victim to escape was positively wrenching.  These sounds where the bread crumbs I followed to find her, as I search crazily through the neighborhood.  I developed a laser quick instincts to ignite;  selective hearing, heart racing, and cortisol rushing to keep me on high alert.
Many accidents and breaking up fights with my hands running with blood. My body choked on adrenaline and my mind rampant from shrieks of pain and horror.  In all my doing I could not take away any suffering the most I could was give the furry victims my full financial support.   A bark would spur myself into a mode of anxiety, phone calls I dreaded for fear it was about her, fear took over. The arrangements between owners, neighbors and vets was an emotional and financial debt unimaginable.
During my full loaded semester I would work at the University Faculty offices, a dance shop (on Saturdays) and in the Winter/summer semesters I would work the two just mentioned as well as in a restaurant in Waikiki at night and a Law Firm downtown during the day.  The Pride I had was immense, to be independent was my greatest sense of selfhood. My food and what was left after my scholarship (30 % of tuition) was my Kuleana (responsibility).  At heart,  a sense of unburdening my family was at the center of my anxious strive to be free of financial constraints. Living at home in the Islands has been a generational challenge.
So I did what we did in 2000ʻs….went on Craigslist in the personal ads section (RIP) In desperate measures for financial stability this was The potion for a New Life….A concoction that had no “directions” of how to navigate; a result of the silencing fear criminalization of Sex Work exacts. For example, imagine itʻs the second year at your job and youʻve never shared a conversation with any coworkers about the essential experience your job requires.  Or the idea of getting accountability from harm, protecting you as a worker would mean all your friends/co-workers would be deported to a third world impacting devastating consequences for them and resulting in the loss of your own source of income? Criminalization is a bitch.

At the time my mind summed up that another Dog Fight (7k) would equal to further entrenchment into the risks of working at the Parlors. There was a lot of complex trauma involved and I was pressured to prioritize my time Scholarship which carried an expiration date.  But I also failed to address the root of the problem which was making space for new Dog Psychology and retraining. There was no space in the No kill shelters, no body to re-home Hoku and nowhere at the time and so

 Four months to my 21st birthday, and I was driving my best friend, my fur-child to an end she never expected and I payed for dearly… When someone falls asleep in front of you, forever you do not think a second, is a minute. After a few, I swallowed everything and looked into her eyes, I composed myself…I gave her every ounce of calm serene and love energy, I called within me, and felt her fall into my hands with ease.  I communicated of all the sorts of animal friends she will finally get to play with. You will be safe, at rest, and peace with prey instincts.
Her waiting for me each day, playing catch and kisses are the best memories!
 That summer the Aunt that financed my neighbors cats and dogs surgeries came to visit. I was ready to give her the thousands I saved to repay her.  She learned of Hoku’s passing after showing me pictures of my cousin and her pet, and an avalanche of grief exploded from within me.  At lunch that day over a bowl of tomato soup in a cafe with my sister, she said “your debt is paid”.  I don’t think she will ever know what that meant to me…She never took the money.
Every day, I see Hoku, and think of her energy.  She was my best companion through adolescence and my young adult life.  I am sure she is smiling, from the freedom and independence, her life sprung forth.  I let half her ashes go where North meet West on my home Isle, Kaena point where souls ascend.
Portrait of Hoku ’14 -C.D
“Camille” is a butterfly story I will share another time, she didn’t emerge until the young caterpillar ate through many books and researched the profession of antiquity with reverent passion.

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