The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Find Your 'Tonks' At the Humane Society

Medically reviewed in March 2022

Before I started working at Hawaiian Humane Society, I purchased an eight-week-old purebred golden retriever. There, I admitted it. I didn’t think twice about checking the breeder’s home, meeting the dog’s parents or making sure the conditions for puppies were humane. I was more concerned with bringing home the wriggling bundle of golden fluff that was in my arms.

If I had known then what I know now, I may have thought twice about purchasing my pup. I was fortunate that my golden retriever, Wookie, came from a great home with terrific living conditions and a set of canine parents who were well loved and cared for.

Although I bought Wookie, I've adopted from the Humane Society in the past. My son and I initially wanted to bring home a grown cat, but Jinx had other plans. She was an eight-week-old pure white foster kitten with jade eyes. As soon as she plopped down for a nap on my son’s lap, we knew she was part of the family. She's been with us ever since and is a healthy five-year-old today.

My husband and I started working at the Humane Society last year. As an open-admissions shelter for homeless animals, the Humane Society receives about 65 animals on any given day. With the serious pet overpopulation problem on Oahu, there are a lot of pets in need of homes. We weren’t planning to adopt another animal right away because we were still adjusting to our new jobs. But we also knew that when we were ready, adoption would be a natural choice.

Then I met “Tonks” (meaning Winter).

Part of my job at the Humane Society entails taking an adoption-ready animal to television and radio interviews. It’s a tough job, I know. For one of my interviews, I chose a 1.5-year-old terrier named Winter to accompany me. She was scruffy, little and so underweight you could feel her ribs and spine prominently through her skin and fur. Since I was promoting our “Pictures with Santa Paws” event, I dressed her up as an elf. As we waited in the lobby before our interview, Winter snuggled in my lap, stealing kisses.

After the interviews were complete, I drove back to the shelter, intending on placing her in her kennel to await a new family. Only this time, I hesitated. I asked my coworker to hold the wiggly little elf while I finished up some work. Winter struggled, broke free and ran back to me, climbing into my lap as I sat at my desk. As my kitten had, it was as if she was choosing me as her new family.

I struggled with the idea of adopting. It wasn’t the right time. We were too busy. I like big dogs, not small ones. I needed a second opinion. I texted my husband, letting him know that Winter was on my mind. He visited her in her kennel and told me that he thought she was terrific. Clearly, he wasn’t helping. I decided to return to the Humane Society with Wookie to see if the two dogs would get along. He would decide if we should bring her home, and he more or less approved.

Winter is now named Tonks. She’s lived with us for nearly three months and fits perfectly into the family. She and Wookie have bonded and they romp daily around the house. Jinx tolerates her, as cats often do. She’s gained weight and is happy and healthy, joining us on our excursions to the Ala Wai dog park and hiking at Makapuu.

Having Tonks, Wookie and Jinx has possibly been more beneficial to me than living with us has been for them. I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and without having my dogs, the daily pain would keep me unmotivated to do active things—and much more motivated to eat cookies and ice cream all day in spite of what I know is good for my health and well-being. My dogs have gotten me enjoying the outdoors. My cat, Jinx, helps me to relax in the evenings, snuggling against me as I settle down for the night. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

To learn more about how you can help animals in need, visit hawaiianhumane.org. You can also check out the animals waiting to be adopted. Who knows, you could bring home a Tonks of your very own!

Susan M. Tam is the communications and events coordinator at Hawaiian Humane Society. When she’s not appearing on morning television or planning the next Humane Society event, she can be found running, taking her dogs to the beach or whipping up a batch of spicy chocolate chip cookies.

This content originally appeared on Well-Being Hawaii

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