Sometimes, in the dead of night, my dog wakes up barking. It’s not the startled kind of yelp that comes from her throat. It’s not the yips she makes when she’s dreaming. This bark rumbles up from her belly—no, deeper, farther beyond her brindle belly and even her white-tipped toes. This particular kind of barking is primal. It possesses her body like a demon wrestling with her soul.
When she barks like, my husband or I turn to the other and say, “Pig.”
Psychologists might call my dog’s behavior instinctual—or Pavlovian. That is, she smells prey in the air, and she responds with a learned behavior. In this case, barking.
Nickel is a mixed-breed Hound that we adopted from the Humane Society two-and-a-half years ago when she was almost one. Workers there say she was probably a hunting dog—a pig hunting dog—that got lost.
Feral pigs roam the mountains of Hawai’i. You might not know that; I didn’t when we first visited Kaua’i some 21 years ago on our honeymoon. I am not sure I did when we moved here almost 10 years ago. However, once, at dusk, when I opened my garage door, I heard a click-click-click on pavement and, there, entering my garage, stood a black, baby pig.
When the first Polynesians roamed the vast Pacific in search of land, they loaded their canoes with all kinds of plants and animals to sustain themselves once they arrived at their destination—which turned out to be a place we call Hawai’i. One of the animals with which they arrived? Pigs. Pigs are culturally significant to Hawai’i, as you may know from attending a lu’au.
So, I was not surprised to read in today’s newspaper that, sadly, two feral pigs were killed Tuesday morning near the Tree Tunnel that leads to Po’ipu. Pigs are nocturnal, and I often see them pop out along the roadside—an unfortunate place to be—at dusk. These two pigs were hit by a car before dawn. The car spun out of control and into the oncoming lane where it was stuck by a Kaua’i Bus. The drivers of both the car and bus were taken to Wilcox Hospital, treated and released. As a result of the accident, police closed one lane of traffic for about 45 minutes.
I share this story with you, because yesterday on an exploration into Waimea Canyon with geologist Chuck Blay and two visitors from Tucson, Arizona, the topic of Hawai’i’s continual surprises came up. Sue and Jim—the visitors—admitted they had no idea Hawai’i boasted such big and beautiful mountains. For them, like so many other visitors, when they pictured Hawai’i in their minds, they conjured up white sand beaches and palm trees. To their added amazement, Chuck shared that in addition to white-sand beaches we also have black-sand beaches, grey-sand beaches and even green-sand beaches. Surprise.
All to my point for today: There is just so much more to Hawai’i than you’d ever imagine. But isn’t that true for life, as well?