Pet Pot-purrr-ri: Cool Pet Stuff in Hawaii

Services, Splurges and Curiosities for the modern four-legged friend and other creatures. Plus our consult with a pet telepathist! Plus Plus tips and reflections of a master dog trainer!

Great Spots to Buy Pet Food


Family Feeds 

The shelves of this hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop feed store in Kalihi are chock-full of chow for a surprising variety of creatures, including goats, turtles, pot-bellied pigs and chinchillas. It’s on the same corner as Helena’s Hawaiian Food, so you can grab a bite, too.

1244 N. School St, (808) 845-2894


City Feed 

When this place opened as a feedstore about 100 years ago, it was on the outskirts of town. But town has grown, and now it’s an oddball, one-story shack in the heart of the city. The owner, Kyle Nishioka, knows his customers so well he can pull a bag of what they’ve come for off the shelf before they’re even out of the car. Just don’t try to pay with plastic—this place is still old school like that.

1827 S. Beretania St., (808) 949-1457


Waimanalo Feed Supply

This place has a little something for a wide variety of animals, from pet mice to livestock. For the DIY puppy owner, it’s got parvovirus and leptospirosis vaccine. There’s even a grocery section with Pop Tarts and peanut butter for you know who.

41-1521 Lukanela St., (808) 259-5344


Aiko the Shiba Inu stocks up on chow.


Naturally Pet

This boutique pet health-food store specializes in top-of-the-line, filler-free pet foods. Some of the brands it carries aren’t available anywhere else in Hawaii. A wide selection of treats include organic dog cookies, dried venison tongue,  and low-cholesterol, low-sodium, no-fat, free-range, grass-fed buffalo chews.  

535 Ward Ave., (808) 591-9944


Pawish Place

Your modern four-legged friend is welcome to shop with you at this ecofriendly “pet lifestyle store” in Kapolei. The floor plan imagines the store to be a home, with toys and apparel in the “bedroom,”  grooming products and litter bags in the “bathroom,”  kennels  in the “garage,” and all-natural foods in the “kitchen.”

563 Farrington Highway, (808) 674-2055.




Seeing-eye Doc


Honolulu has more than 150 veterinarians, but only one of them specializes in treating the diseases and disorders of the animal eye. Maya Yamagata, of Hawaii Veterinary Vision Care, is the sole board-certified veterinary opthamologist in the state. Heaven forbid, but should your canine get cataracts or your kitty get keratitis, Yamagata is the specialist to see. By referral only.

1021 Akala Lane, (808) 593-7777


SEE ALSO: The Pet Communicator, a cat named Kitty Kitty and Me




Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine for Dogs

In the dog world, raw foodism isn’t for  paradigm-smashing culinary radicals. It’s for gourmets. Raw Dog Hawaii, which offers complete, fresh-frozen, uncooked canine diets, works with local farmers and ranchers in much the way that restaurant’s like Merriman’s and Alan Wong’s do. Ingredient listings on Raw Dog’s various grinds, which look like hamburger, read almost like menu descriptions: “local grass-fed beef,” “in-season vegetables,” “local eggs,” “pasture-raised lamb … raised at the Tin Roof Ranch in Haleiwa.” The prices are gourmet too. Using the handy, online Raw Dog Feeding Calculator, we determined the tab for an active, 75-pound labrador on a strict raw food diet: $376 per month.

Available at Cocojor dog Emporium and Spaw, 975 Kapiolani Blvd., and online at


The Bird Guy


If you’ve strolled through Waikiki’s International Marketplace lately, you may have seen the guy with parrots perched on his shoulders and head, selling photo ops. The man beneath the feathers is Bruce McGonigal, The Bird Guy, and he brings his friendly, touchable birds to parties, corporate retreats and all sorts of other events—$200 for an hour-long visit. He has a deep well of talent, including birds that give shakas and say things like “wanna pet the bird?” and—yes—“Polly want a cracker?” McGonigal also buys, sells, trades and boards exotic birds. The cages in and around his Kamehameha Heights home house about 200 of them. “It’s like Jurrasic Park around here,” he says., (808) 386-8606.


No Pets Allowed! Unless …


It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there for renters with pets looking for housing in Honolulu. But a some relief may be on the way. A pet deposit bill in the Legislature, which shows good signs of becoming law, would encourage landlords to rent to pet owners by allowing them to hold a security deposit to cover damages caused by an animal residing on their property.


The pet deposit would be in addition to the maximum security deposit that’s currently allowed, which is equal to one month’s rent. Under both the senate version of the bill, SB 329, and its house companion, HB 1316, landlords would be prohibited from requiring additional deposits from tenants with disabilities who use assistance animals.


In the meantime, apartment-hunting pet owners might want to check the Hawaiian Humane Society’s Tips for Tenants—which include gathering letters of reference and vaccination certificates—at The upshot is that individual landlords who reject pets can be convinced to change their minds.


Jennifer Han, the Humane Society’s policy advocate, successfully applied these tips when she and her English bulldog, Georges, were apartment hunting. “The goal was to prove that he’s such a good dog,” she says. “But more importantly, that I’m such a good owner.”


Reading to Dogs


Illustration: thinkstock

When you read out loud to dogs, they will not tell you that you skipped a page or correct your pronunciation. They will listen, and maybe wag their tails. This makes them the perfect practice partners for kids who struggle with reading. The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) program puts dogs in schools and libraries to help kids build their confidence as they take on the printed word. The program is run by Hawaii Fi-Do, a nonprofit that raises assistance dogs for people with disabilities.

To get READ in your library or school, call 638-0200.




Doggy Adventures


Just because you aren’t burning off your pent-up energy with a run on the beach or a hike in the mountains is no reason your dog can’t. Doggie Adventures and Training will pick up your dog at your home, take it on an outing, and return it to you freshly bathed and tuckered out. The packages involve one to four hours of activity and range in price from $45 to $95. Photos of your dog having fun without you are available, too. If that inspires you to get out there yourself next time, all the better. 551-7994


Shrimp, the Perfect Pets?

You could make a case that the tiny, red, endemic Hawaiian shrimp—the o-pae ula—are the perfect pets. They grow their own food, so you don’t have to feed them. You don’t have to clean up after them, because it’s their waste that  fertilizes the algae they eat. They won’t get bigger than a half inch, and their self-contained brackish-water habitats don’t take up a lot of room on your desk.  Mostly what they need from you is somebody to keep them out of direct sunlight and in a place where the temperature stays between 65 and 85 degrees.  Get that right and they can live for years.  Oh My Opae sells them online, in attractive vases, starting at $30., (808) 375-3064



Dogs’ Night Out, With Parking


Cocojor Dog Emporium and Spaw is always trying new things. Some work out, and some don’t. The deep-cleaning “micro-bubble treatment,” which purportedly cures canine skin conditions, has won positive customer reviews. The doggie-human couples-style massage—in  which dogs and their people were invited to enjoy side-by-side onsen massages—never really caught on. Cocojor’s latest innovation is the Night Life Spaw. The idea is that you get to stay out on the town until midnight while your dog relaxes at the spa, enjoying grooming services, the micro-bubble bath or simply the company of the other spa dogs. Free parking along Kapiolani Boulevard sweetens the deal.

975 Kapiolani Blvd., (808) 592-3647




Cat Chaplain


As a nonsectarian minister for people, Jan Schmidt performs weddings and presides at memorial services and funerals. As an animal chaplain, she offers bereavement counseling for cat owners grappling with the question of euthanasia, and she performs gentle ceremonies for cats undergoing it. “I’ll give them a healing touch to calm them,” she says. “I say a prayer as the spirit’s leaving the body, to help them on their journey as they cross over the Rainbow Bridge.” Schmidt, who also runs a homelike cat boarding operation in Kailua called Cozy Cat Lodge, charges nothing for her pet chaplaincy services. Weddings and other services for people, on the other hand, fetch the market rate., (808) 261-1101


See more pet photos at Steve Czerniak's website, Pet accessories provided by Cocojor Dog Emporium and Spaw, Calvin & Susie, and Whole Food Market, Kailua.


Possibilities for the Pampered, Departed Pet


Oahu Pet Crematory has a wide variety of pendants that allow a deceased pet’s loved ones to carry a lock of hair or a smidgen of ashes close to their hearts. Get a cat’s ball of yarn, in sterling silver, for $195, or a 14-karat gold dog bone for $840. Cremation not included., (808) 371-7531


At Oahu’s only pet cemetery, set in a section of Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Kaneohe, about 500 animals lie in eternal slumber beneath granite and bronze markers, which—at first glance—don’t look any different from the markers on the nearby human gravesites. A chihuahua-size plot, with burial vault, casket and a bronze marker, runs $2,390., (808) 239-8811


For those who just can’t let go, there’s always freeze drying. Unlike taxidermy, which preserves the animal’s hide and discards the rest, freeze drying preserves all the non-organ parts. Freeze-dried Muffy will look pretty much the same as pre-afterlife Muffy, only more still. Frankly, you’re better off letting go. But if that’s not going to happen, Preserved Pets in Moreno Valley, Calif. (nobody in Hawaii does it) charges $250 for a bird or hamster, and $695 for a dog or cat less than five pounds, and on up from there., (888) 298-4434.


Treat ‘em Like a Dog


Longtime Island dog trainer and former American Kennel Club judge Larry Ng, 84, talks about barking, digging and working for 1980s television series Magnum, P.I.


  • Average dogs are easier to train than smart dogs. If you’ve got an average dog, you can teach him to work with you. If you have a smart dog, you always have to stay one step ahead of him. You always have to be coming up with novel things. If you get a dog that’s smarter than you, just get outside help.

  • Veterinarian is a tough job. It’s just like a pediatrician. The baby cannot tell you what’s wrong with it. Neither can the dog.

  • If your dog is barking all the time, you’ve gotta come down hard on him. Don’t manhandle him, but be firm about it. “NO BARKING!” If you’re gonna throw things at him, I would suggest a Coke can. Put some No. 3 gravel in there. Let him know that if he barks, the can comes flying. I wouldn’t bang him with it, but throw it close by. Let him look you in the eye. “NO BARKING!”

  • If your dog is digging holes in the yard, you gotta nip that in the bud. Grab him by the scruff of the neck and say, “NO DIGGING!” You gotta chastise him and let him know that behavior is unacceptable. But if you go over there and talk to him nicely, you’re gonna have a lot of holes in your yard.

  • I think people baby their dogs too much. You should treat ‘em like a dog.

  • I worked at Magnum, P.I. I trained those two dobermans, Zeus and Apollo. Those were my dogs. Their real names were Nohea and Joe. Nohea was the bitch, but she was just as big as the male dog. The director wanted two males, but I said I don’t think that’s going to work. They’ll get ornery and you won’t get anything out of them. He said, “The script says males.”  I said, “When they chasing Tom Selleck across the yard, will you see the testicles and vagina? I don’t think so.” I finally sold him on the idea.

  • After Magnum, I sent Joe to Australia for a breeding program. I said, that’s a good way to end life, enjoying all the females. Ha-ha!

  • There is what we call respect and trust. If you have those two conditions, you’ll get a dog that’s very good. Respect and trust—but never abusive.

  • I’ll be honest with you. I don’t like cats.