LIHUE — Clayton Cataluna’s favorite memories of his dog, Happy, is reuniting after coming home from work.
“He was always lively when I came home,” he said.
Happy liked to be near Cataluna, even when he was asleep.
“He would sleep curled up next to me, even when I moved from left to right,” Cataluna said.
The 14-year-old Chihuahua died unexpectedly last week after contracting a sudden illness.
“He was getting weak,” Cataluna said. “He used to go with me to put flowers on my mother’s grave, but he stopped coming.”
Cataluna was one of 14 people who attended a pet remembrance service at the Kauai Humane Society Saturday morning. The service, hosted by Kauai Hospice, was a way for people to remember the good times they had with their beloved four-legged friends, said Jeffrey Pears, bereavement care coordinator for Kauai Hospice.
It was the first time in about five years that Kauai Hospice hosted a pet remembrance service.
“I counsel people on pet loss as well as human loss, so I saw a need for it,” Pears said. “This gives people a chance for expression — to express their love for their pet through story-telling, making memory stones and photographs.”
Pears chose KHS to be the location for the service so participants could be around animals.
“It felt natural to have it here,” he said. “People bring their pets to the dog park, and KHS has the field trip program. Maybe after service, someone will go find an animal they want to bring home.”
During the hour-long service, people broke out into small groups to share pictures and memories of their pets. The pictures were then displayed on a table, while participants painted memory stones to honor their pets.
Barbara Brings painted her family dog’s face onto her memory stone.
Belle, a 9-year-old Japanese Chin and Dachshund mix, died in April. Brings’ favorite memory of Belle is watching her look out the window.
“She had her spot, and she looked like royalty, guarding her domain,” she said.
Her son, Daniel Sieradzki, said he and Belle used to go on walks every day.
Sieradzki attended the service with his mother and sister, Tirah Brings.
“This was a great way to honor Belle and acknowledge the good times we had with her,” he said.
Barbara Brings said the service gave her family a reason to talk about Belle again.
“We talked about her a lot when she first died, but then we got busy,” she said. “This is a nice way to process her death and talk about the happy memories.”
Kap and Howard Richards had to put down their dog, Shorty, two weeks ago. The 12-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel had been sick for a while.
One of Shorty’s favorite things to do was dig for crabs at the beach, Kap said.
“Once, she came out with a big black crab attached to her face,” she said.
The day before Shorty died, the Howards took her to Shipwrecks to dig for crabs.
“We had her on a diet for a long time, so she wasn’t allowed to eat crabs anymore,” she said. “She dug some giant holes, and ate the crabs in a nanosecond.”
Laurie Cicotello came to the service to remember three pets — a cat, Popoki, and two dogs, ToDo and Mr. Boy.
“Pets play such an important role in our lives,” she said.
ToDo, a Chihuahua and Dachshund mix, was Cicotello’s college dog. She died 10 years ago, but Cicotello said a day never goes by that she doesn’t think of Toto.
“I think about her all the time, and I see her in other people’s dogs,” she said.
The day she put ToDo down, Cicotello got a fortune cookie that read “You’re a very good friend.”
“My dad got the same fortune, so we knew it was from ToDo. I knew she was with us,” Cicotello said.
Cictotello was happy she attended the remembrance service.
“It’s good to come to a safe space. It keeps me from breaking down,” she said.