Last updated: February 21, 2023
Did you know that you can borrow a dog at the Humane Society in Kauai, Hawaii?
My friend Amit Gupta told me about the fantastic Shelter Dogs on Field Trips program. Locals and tourists can now take dogs out on a hike or on a drive around town.
The Kauai Humane Society has pioneered this outreach and volunteer effort.
We went to check it out on a warm Thursday morning in February 2019.
My Experience Borrowing A Dog
Fun fact: About four times per month, the Field Trips program leads to a successful adoption.
Tip #1: Arrive Early
The shelter allows dogs to be let out on field trips on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11am to 5pm ad Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm.
Our plan was to show up a few minutes early. We thought arriving five minutes early would allow us to have our pick of any dog.
Wrong! At 10:55am, there was already a line of at least a dozen other people. They all hoped to take a shelter dog for the day.
Pro Tip: Arrive by 10:40am
This should guarantee yourself a dog and less waiting time.
Tip #2: Explore The Kennels & Quickly Pick Your Favorite
At 11am, a staff member told us that only eight dogs were available.
Amit and I looked at each other in fear and sadness: Would we be one of the lucky people to get a dog?
Some dogs could not be taken out because they recently had surgery, were still being socialized, or were too young.
Counting our place in line, it did not look like today would be our lucky day. We were sad.
Selecting A Dog
After getting a briefing from the Humane Society staff, everyone enters the kennel.
The first thing you notice are the sounds of much barking. The dogs were very excited.
There is a sense of excitement among visitors, too. Everyone who has shown up by 11am is “competing” to pick a dog.
Dogs who were available for a field trip had a colored slip in their same sign. We counted about eight dogs available to borrow for the day.
Field trip-eligible dogs are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. With only a few dogs available for field trips each day, there is some pressure to secure your spot.
By the time we entered the kennel, there we no more dogs available to be taken out. Everyone was already standing in front of the dog they wanted.
We were crushed. Amit had been looking forward to this activity all month. It was sad to think that we wouldn’t get a chance to volunteer and take a dog on an adventure.
Tip #3: Be Friendly To Other Volunteers
Amit had chatted up a generous local resident who had already picked out a dog. Hearing that we were visitors who had planned a day around this activity, she was kind enough to give us her earlier space in line with the dog she had picked out.
We would now have our chance to take a dog out on a field trip. Hooray!
Pro Tip: Make friends and be nice to other volunteers. You might see them later in the day on a hike, like we did.
Next, we take the dog into a play area to make sure the dog likes us (and we like the dog).
Tip #4: Be Patient In The Play Area
Next, we were led into a holding pen outside with lots of green grass. This is where we would meet our dog and get to interact with it.
The Kauai Humane Society says the purpose of the next step is to socialize with the dog before you leave the facility. It allows you to confirm you like the dog, and the dog to show that he or she is comfortable with you.
At first, our dog was too excited to play with us. He raced around the space. He was jumping and barking and maybe “talking” to his friends in nearby kennels.
Pro Tip: Let the dog get its energy out first.
After a few minutes, he calmed down and let us pet him.
It was a good fit. We felt comfortable with the dog, and the dog felt comfortable with us. Seeing this, the staff instructed us to wait in the lobby and fill out the release paperwork and mandatory donation form.
Tip #5: Paperwork and Donation
Here is what the form looks like which you have to fill out after you select a dog and are approved for the Field Trip.
Pro Tip: Bring a book or something to do while waiting.
It might take up to 20 minutes for your dog to get processed and brought to you.
Then we got our dog, along with a handy day kit for the field trip.
We were given a backpack with essential items such as a water bottle, water bowl, poop bags, dog treats, and emergency contact information.
With all of our supplies and a happy dog, we walked to the parking lot to begin our adventure.
Dogs are not allowed to be off-leash at any time. Even in the car, they must be anchored to a cinch point like a headrest. This is for their safety so they can not run out when you open the door.
Tip #6: Pick Your Hike
There are several suggested hikes available for the Shelter Dogs on Field Trips program. Ask the staff for suggestions.
Pro Tip: Know The Rules
Such as: Don’t take dogs on county beaches. For a full list of rules, see the page at Kauai Humane Society page: Shelter Dogs on Field Trips.
We drove on a very nice drive towards Shipwreck Beach.
We walked past the beach, but we didn’t go on the beach with the dog. No dogs allowed on the beach.
Our dog was so happy to be outside! He was previously a stray dog, so he was not necessarily the most leash-friendly dog. His leash often got tangled around his legs. Otherwise he was a treat to walk with.
It made us happy to be outside with a dog. Also, I forgot how much work it is to have a dog. I didn’t even do most of the walking – I left that up to Amit!
After a few hours, we decided it was time to go home. We drove back to the Kauai Humane Society and returned our dog and the supply bag. But not before giving our dog all the treats.
This was so much fun. I recommend it to everyone visiting or living in Kauai.
We got as much out of it as the dog did. It was a rewarding experience.
I love this program and wish other humane societies would allow this.
Do you know of other programs that allow you to borrow a shelter dog for a day? Email me and let me know.
- You can pick up the dogs Monday to Friday (except Wednesday) at 11am and Saturday and Sunday at 10am.
- You must return the dogs by 5pm on weekdays and 3pm on weekends on the same day.
See a complete list of info on the Kauai Humane Society page: Shelter Dogs on Field Trips.
Rules For Borrowing A Dog
- You must be at least 18 years old to check out a dog.
- Liability waiver is required.
- Dogs must always be kept on a leash, with no exceptions.
See a complete list of rules on the Kauai Humane Society page: Shelter Dogs on Field Trips.
Advice If You Go:
- Arrive early, like 10:40am. When we arrived on a Wednesday morning at 10:55am, there was a line of seven or eight other groups ahead of us.
- Quickly pick your favorite dog.
- Make friends and be nice to the volunteers. You might see them later, or need help early on like we did! When we saw another volunteer group out on the hike, our dog went crazy and got very excited. He clearly recognized his other kennel-mate.
- Be patient for your dog to get his or her energy out.
- Bring something to do while you wait for paperwork and processing.
- Research the different hikes, or ask at the front desk for one to fit your desires.
- Amit Gupta on Instagram
- Fun fact: Amit and his dog Leah were featured in a Toyota commercial once!
- Kauai Humane Society page: Shelter Dogs on Field Trips
- Best Restaurants in Hilo, Hawaii: My Review and Photos
Original post: February 22, 2019 -- Last updated: February 21, 2023