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It's not often that a canine volunteer gets to come to Kalani, what with the strict quarantine laws of Hawaii and Kalani's "no dog" policy. But my parents, Toli and Christine, insisted that my assistance was required in the IT department, and I soon found myself in paradise.
After my wonderful 3 month stay at Kalani, I was asked to share my thoughts, so I thought it would be helpful to share some advice for incoming volunteers, human and otherwise.
1. Make new friends
I really learned all about "aloha" here and enjoyed making friends everywhere I went. There is such a diverse group of people who work and visit Kalani, and I made sure to greet as many of them as I could with a wagging tail and a friendly heart. The hardest thing about leaving Kalani was leaving behind all of my wonderful new friends.
2. Break out of your comfort zone
Even though I am great with humans large and small, I have always felt shy and awkward around my fellow dogs. Lucky for me, Kalani's resident dogs Po and Kobo were very patient and encouraging until I grew more comfortable around them. Toli and Christine were very happy one day when I started playing and chasing Kobo on the grass - they had never seen me play so well with another dog before! Hopefully now I can play better with dogs I meet on the mainland.
3. Be helpful
Kalani is a big place that needs a lot of people and energy to keep it running. Even though I was officially part of the IT team, I always lent a helping paw whenever it was needed. I protected the office from noisy lawnmowers, hunted rats that lurked in corners, and gave fertilizer to help the jungle grow.
4. Stay active and try something new
I don't get outdoors a lot in Texas because of the coyotes, so I took advantage of all the outdoor time I got in Hawaii. I also made friends with a nice lady from the Priya Yoga group who would bring me to attend yoga sessions with her. If you have never tried yoga, Kalani is a great place to start. I think I really improved my downward dog.
5. Don't forget to explore the rest of Hawaii
With a 30-hour a week work commitment, that leaves plenty of time to explore the rest of Hawaii during your time off. I got to visit Hilo, Waimea, and Kona on the Big Island, and my family flew to Maui on our week off. Maui was great because they allow dogs on the beaches.
6. Don't eat the cane toads
I know that it can be really tempting to chase and eat the cane toads that come out when it rains, but DON'T! I learned the hard way that these toads have toxic glands and taste really yucky. No one likes to visit the vet while they're on vacation.
I hope you found my advice helpful and that you come to Kalani soon. Woof!