As the models for the Fast & Furriest Festival fashion show made their final walk on the runway Sunday, John Simpson and his little buddy, Peewee, left the spectator section and joined them.
Why not, he thought. After all, 11-year-old Peewee had his own sense of style, wearing red, white and blue sweaters and stars and stripes bandana, and Simpson was sporting a colorful aloha shirt.
“I wouldn’t trade him for anything,” Simpson said of the Chihuahua/Daschund mix he’s owned since it was born.
The Kapaa man smiled as he recounted how his tiny friend earned his name.
“When he was just a little, little tiny dog, he would just go pee wee all over the house, every few minutes,” he said, laughing. “He’s well trained now.”
Stories like that one were swapped throughout the day at the Fast & Furriest Festival at the Kauai Humane Society. Pet owners and their pooches — Labradors, beagles and pugs — were welcomed at the KHS Freddie’s Dog Park for a fashion show, games, contests, prizes, treats and just a chance to make new friends with others who shared a love for dogs.
The goal was also to raise interest and awareness of KHS and its many programs, and especially to get people meet the dogs available for adoption — with a 65 percent discount offered.
It worked. A few hundred people, with and without pets, dropped by throughout the late morning and early afternoon. Ron Wiley as the emcee shared a story of growing up, when his family had to surrender their dog, Deacon, because they couldn’t afford to feed it.
That was tough, he recalled. Today, he and his wife Laura own three dogs, including one they found last year.
“People need to come out and open their hearts,” said Julie Sigler, a KHS volunteer and contest organizer. “There’s a lot of nice dogs that need homes.”
She was walking with her 3-year-old dog, Shadow, that she adopted a year ago from the society.
“He’s still a little squeamish but he’s doing much better,” she said.
Jan Woo organized the fashion show, which was a big hit and included Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and Councilman Derek Kawakami.
Dogs wore colorful dresses, sunglasses, hats, bandanas and leis. Most stood patiently with their handlers, waiting their turn in the spotlight.
Woo brought along her dog, a miniature Schnauzer named Kilakila, which means majestic in Hawaiian.
“All the dogs were so good,” Woo said. “They just were precious. They followed directions; it was great.”
Molly McKenzie and Sophie, a 6-month-old Beshon Havanese, were in the fashion show. This is the fifth dog for McKenzie and her husband, Brian. They’ve owned a basset hound, two Springer Spaniels and a Beshon Frise.
In the past 35 years, they’ve almost always had a dog as part of their family. Dogs, she said, add love to their lives.
“They fill our hearts,” she said.
McKenzie also wanted to come out to Fast & Furriest and support KHS.
“I think they do such a great job,” she said.
Diann Hartman was in the fashion show with Buck, a 2 1/2 year-old dog she adopted a year ago. She’s also a strong KHS advocate.
‘They’ve brought me so much joy over the years in all the animals I’ve adopted from them,” she said. “I’m proud to be a board member and do anything I can do to support them.”