Hawai'i Days, Hawai'i Ways
There'll never be a doggie like Herbie
By Carol K.F. Kita
Special to The Advertiser
Wow! Look, Carol. Your mom got a black rabbit!" exclaimed by neighbor Raynette.
It's 1966 and, as Raynette and I walked home from elementary school and rounded the corner, she was the first one to see the "rabbit."
As we excitedly ran the rest of the way home, I couldn't help but wonder why my mom would get a rabbit for a pet when she knew my brother and I always wanted a dog.
To my surprise, as I got closer, I realized it was a dog. A cute, furry, squirming puppy that had jet-black fur except for one small patch of white on his chest.
His eyes were large and round and a deep shade of brown that held a hint of mischief in them. He was half collie and half retriever or you could call him a "poi dog."
With his tail wagging furiously, my brother and mom were already engrossed in playing with him. As I scooped up this little puppy, he looked at my face, gave me a wet lick and I knew he would be an important part of my life.
After countless arguments with my brother, we finally agreed to call him "Herbie," after a popular comic book hero that we both liked.
Herbie was indeed mischievous, playful, active and at times a handful. But he was always willing and quick to learn tricks and obey commands. Herbie developed some tricks of his own, by climbing instead of jumping over the fence, or when he was chained to the post, he would keep pulling until his collar slipped off his head and he made his escape.
The collar would still be attached to the chain on the ground. We often joked that he seemed to be Houdini's dog more than ours.
When Herbie made his weekly escapes, my mom and I would go up and down many streets in our neighborhood shouting, "Herbie! Herbie!" By now, all the neighbors knew who he was and would sometimes offer insights on where they last saw him. When we finally do find him, we would chain him to a tree or garage post as his punishment. He would look so sad and remorseful that my mom and I would quickly set him free.
Although I know Herbie loved us, he needed his freedom and adventures. I never knew what he did, but he seemed always happy when he came home.
Herbie was my companion and playmate during my childhood years. I was never lonely when he was near and our favorite game was "Hide & Seek." I would hide and no matter where I hid, Herbie would always find me.
Herbie loved to ride in cars and sit in the front seat. I, on the other hand, had to sit in the back seat.
My boyfriend (who is now my husband) would often joke that he couldn't tell who was the dog and who was the human.
On hot summer days, we would eat ice cream in cones, and of course, Herbie had his own. He never liked the cone though. He would roll over the cone until it was thoroughly smashed and covered in fur and grass. I would throw it away, as it looked gross. I think Herbie did it so he wouldn't have to eat the cone.
Herbie seemed to know when I felt sad and would nudge my hand with his cold, wet nose until I put my arm around him. It never failed to make me feel better.
When I married and moved out of my parents' house, I would often return to visit and see Herbie. Herbie was always happy to greet me at the gate, tail wagging and tongue sticking out.
At 16 years old, Herbie passed away. I felt a chunk of my childhood had disappeared.
Other dogs followed Herbie and although I loved them all, Herbie will always remain special to me because we grew up together, shared my childhood, gave me unconditional love and devotion. He will forever be a part of me.
Carol Kita lives in 'Aiea.