A dog’s life

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Valkyrie stands in a doorway of her kennel at KHS.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Valkyrie’s puppies curl up together.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Valkyrie stands near her puppies at the Kauai Humane Society.

Editor’s note:

The Garden Island will be periodically following the life of this dog and her puppies after they were dropped off at the Kauai Humane Society outside kennel on Jan. 19.

When Valkyrie came to the Kauai Humane Society, she was in bad shape — underweight, injured left eye, dry skin.

“All things that she’ll heal up from,” said Jessica Venneman, KHS field services manager.

But they are indications the dog was not well cared for prior to being dropped off at the KHS outside kennel on Jan. 19.

“She shouldn’t be in this poor of condition,” Venneman said Friday.

Besides ailing health, Valkryie had something else to look after — four newborns, three boys and a girls.

The mom, brown, black and brindle, was about two years old and weighed about 35 pounds.

It did not have a microchip, so KHS has no record of its ownership or shots.

It could be that Valkyrie was a hunting dog or a family dog that was neglected.

“We don’t know,” Vennemann said.

The staff named the mom Valkyrie and the pups, Volsung, Ragnar, Hedin and Brigitte.

The family was kept in its own kennel. Because the pups are susceptible to disease, they are kept apart from other dogs in the yards.

Six days later, the family was doing better. Mom had gained weight thanks to three-a-day feedings, and her eye was being treated. The pups were fat and healthy.

Valkyrie will stay in the system longer because of the babies.

“She needs a little time to rest up because of her eye and her condition,” Vennemann said. “It will be win-win for her.”

Valkyrie is protective, yet mellow, and allows people to pet her and the pups, which burrow close to each other, forming a singular ball of paws, legs, tails and ears. She keeps a close watch but doesn’t growl or bark, even walking briefly away.

“She’s really trusting,” Vennemann said.

There was more good news.

Over the weekend, a foster home was found for Valkyrie and the pups, which can’t be adopted out until they are at least eight weeks old. At that age, they can be spayed and neutered.

But puppy life at a shelter is far from ideal.

“Puppies born in or brought to shelters at such a young age have a very difficult time,” wrote KHS Director Mirah Horowitz. “As hard as we work to keep things clean and sanitary for the puppies, being in a shelter environment where unvaccinated dogs are constantly entering the facility puts vulnerable puppies at risk, particularly when they are too young to be vaccinated and may not be receiving antibodies from their mom.”

Being able to put them in a foster is “an incredible blessing,” she said. In foster, they are not one family amongst 200-plus dogs — they get more attention and, importantly for puppies, socialization, Horowitz wrote.

“For dogs to grow into well adjusted puppies, early socialization with people is key. Plus, the less dogs in the shelter, the more space we have to help the new dogs coming in daily,” Horowitz wrote.

Normally, a dog that winds up at KHS would be held for 48 hours. If no one came for it and it met the conditions, it would be placed up for adoption or on the transfer list to be sent to the mainland.

When dogs are dropped off at KHS during open hours, they should be brought inside to the front desk. If left in the outside kennel when closed, be sure to close the latch and call KHS to alert them.

The first people in will get them from the kennel and begin the process: paperwork, check weight, vaccinate, treat for fleas and worms (unless they are too young, like Valkyrie’s’s pups.). Then, staff members will give the dog an exam and write an assessment of general condition.

Every dog that comes to KHS gets microchipped.

If it’s determined they are healthy enough to be in with the rest of the dogs, staff members will walk the dog through a labyrinth of hallways and doorways to a kennel in the general holding area.

If the dog is sick, they might be held in isolation for further observation.

Valkyrie stands a decent chance of adoption on Kauai, and a better one if transferred to the mainland.

Here, she is one of many hound dogs.

On the mainland, she is “a really good Hawaiian dog” and there’s are more potential adopters.

“Probably, she’ll get transferred,” Venneman said.

2 Comments
  1. Colin January 29, 2019 5:50 am Reply

    “Over the weekend, a foster home was found for Valkyrie and the pups, which can’t be adopted out until they are at least eight weeks old. At that age, they can be spayed and neutered.”

    Oh dear, NO! All the evidence I have read in recent years indicates that spay/neuter before at least a year of age seriously increases the dog’s chances of stunted growth, un-fused growth plates and other issues.

    For example:

    “A study published in 2000 in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism explains:

    At puberty, estrogen promotes skeletal maturation and the gradual, progressive closure of the epiphyseal growth plate, possibly as a consequence of both estrogen-induced vascular and osteoblastic invasion and the termination of chondrogenesis.

    In addition, during puberty and into the third decade, estrogen has an anabolic effect on the osteoblast and an apoptotic effect on the osteoclast, increasing bone mineral acquisition in axial and appendicular bone.

    Translation: The hormone estrogen, which is no longer produced in spayed or neutered dogs, plays a crucial role in bone growth and development. The removal of estrogen-producing organs in immature dogs can cause growth plates to remain open. The dogs continue to grow and wind up with abnormal growth patterns and bone structure, which can result in irregular body proportions.”


  2. curious dog January 29, 2019 10:05 am Reply

    Love the story! Wish more people could foster but w/rentals not allowing pets, it makes it very difficult. Isn’t 8 weeks way too young for spay/neuter? Maybe give them 6+ mos if they go to responsible parents?

    “The staff named the mom Valkyrie and the pups, Volsung, Ragnar, Hedin and Brigitte.”

    Hawai’ian names for these beautiful Hawai’ian pups might help mainlanders more associate with the specialness of their new family members. There are so many beautiful Hawai’ian names to choose from!

    We named our special girl (we found in Kealakekua as a puppy) Nai’a the Hawai’ian Princess & she LOVED to swim! She was our special dolphin poi girl for 16 years & she was truly the Heart of Hawai’i in our home.


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