In Makawao, Maui’s historic cowboy (or paniolo) town, it’s 6 pm, the sun is setting and there’s pau hana traffic along two-lane Makawao Avenue. I’m out for a long evening walk with my two dogs, Poky and Mishu. We’ve been frolicking in Eddie Tam park, chasing wild chickens in the rain. I notice the wild-salmon colored clouds begin to turn indigo and decide it’s getting late. We head up to Makawao Avenue to walk the short stretch of sidewalk that will lead us Rodeo General, where I’ll buy butter and bread.
We’re almost to the HNU housing development, where the sign boasts or warns “only 2 units left”. That was out of 5 since last year. But who’s counting. Looking away from the sign, I notice Mishu, my malamute husky, crouching and slowly inching forward into some lady’s driveway. He’s on his leash and can’t spring. I follow his stare into her grassy, manicured yard where a flock of wild chickens has just landed.
The birds run in circles, sqwaking as if they were on fire. I look again at Mishu, his concentration fixed solely on a bird. The hunter in me (even if it’s only for bargains) hears his silent plea, and against my better judgement, I release his leash. Mishu leaps into a full gallop and corners the chicken he stared down, a gray and white mottled bird who’s taking one for the team. Around and around they go in these people’s side yard. I call weakly for Mishu to come, but of course, he is consumed with the thrill the of the hunt and can’t, in his wired state, pay attention to anything I say, unless perhaps it’s a sqwak.
Thank God, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Allah, Goddess that these people aren’t home. No cars in the driveway. No lights on in the windows. But they’re probably on their way home from work, and I don’t want them pulling up to my dog dismembering a chicken on their grass. I walk with Poky over to fetch Mishu, who by now has caught and killed his prey. I drag Mishu and all of his instincts with his prize firmly clenched between teeth out to the sidewalk. I see a landing strip of grass separating the concrete from the asphalt road. Looks like a perfect table upon which to feast on fresh meat.
So there we are on the sidewalk during rush hour in Makawao at sunset: Mishu ripping and crunching a still warm chicken, feathers stuck to his muzzle like velcro darts; Poky scanning impatiently the scene, eyes shifting side to side; and me, wondering if anyone driving by has any idea of the carnage going on. But no one really notices. Either they are totally oblivious or it’s just normal to see a wolf-like dog nosing a pile of feathers on the side of the road. Or perhaps what remains of Makawao’s cowboy culture makes allowances for the wild at heart, still paniolo country.