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A Pooch in Paradise : Living it up at Oahu's quarantine station

June 11, 1995|JEANNE APOSTOL | Apostol, a television producer, commutes between Los Angeles and Kiev. Beaumont will spend the summer in Kiev and retire, at age 11, to Malibu. and

HONOLULU — People will do almost anything to be with their pets, and we are no exception. We've taken our dog with us to motels, ski condos and B&Bs. Sometimes he slept in the car and sometimes we smuggled him inside, wrapped in a blanket, but he always seemed happier to be with us than at home alone. Travel is in his blood, just as it is in ours.

When my husband, Doug, joined the State Department and was assigned to Seoul, Korea, we worried about how Beaumont--a somewhat high-strung mixed breed (miniature collie and golden retriever, we think)--would fare on the long plane ride over the Pacific. But if we had listened to all the warnings about putting pets on planes, Beaumont might not be with us today.

And we would have missed one of Hawaii's funniest sights: the pet-visiting ritual at the Animal Quarantine Station, run by the state's Department of Agriculture in Aiea, about half an hour's drive from our hotel in Waikiki.

With the help of a mild tranquilizer prescribed by our veterinarian, Beaumont survived the flight to Hawaii in good shape. But as we'd learned from our airline reservations agent, Beaumont wouldn't be joining us for cocktails on our lanai (balcony) during our five-day layover: Even if you are stopping in Hawaii for a day or two, your pet must be quarantined to guard against rabies and other diseases. No exceptions. (Since we were only passing through the state, Beaumont's stay in Aiea was limited. For those relocating to Hawaii, the pet quarantine is a brutal 120 days.)

Our first free day, a Sunday, we drove to the quarantine station and found Beaumont inside a clean, comfortable-looking doggie condo, with a good-size run and a separate "bedroom." What really surprised us, however, were the dozens of military and civilian families spending the afternoon in their dogs' kennels--inside the kennels.

By 1:30 p.m. the parking lot was crowded. Visiting hours ended at 3:30 p.m., and stragglers were not tolerated. And there was a painful-looking barbed-wire trim on the 10-foot chain-link fence to discourage frustrated pet owners from a midnight rescue mission.

It took awhile to find Beaumont among the endless rows of howling mutts and chattering families. In one corner kennel, bamboo shades were rolled halfway down two sides; all we could see was a pair of hairy legs in khaki Bermudas lying in a lounge chair, with a book, a beer and a bowser.

*

Other visitors were camped out with coolers and portable TVs. We walked by one kennel with a colorful signboard, "Happy Birthday, Ralph." Poor Ralph was alone with his birthday banners and his chew bones.

When we found Beaumont, he looked healthy and in good spirits. We sat down on the cold, metal visitor's bench and were pleased to find an automatic watering system and what appeared to be a good-quality dry food in his dish. The kennel was immaculate, and though the dog's appetite for our affection seemed sated, we had no inclination to leave after a half an hour visit. We departed with the hordes at 3:30 p.m.

When we arrived at Kimpo Airport in Seoul, we had to give Beaumont up to yet another detention facility. The 10-day quarantine passed without incident, and Beaumont spent two carefree years with us in the Land of the Morning Calm. On the return trip to the continental United States, there was no quarantine required, and Beaumont again sailed through the U.S. Customs Service.

He's now en route to Kiev, Ukraine, for my husband's next assignment--no doubt dreaming of his Hawaiian holiday.

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