HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The dying wish of former homeless outreach worker Sharon Black was fulfilled Sunday when her three great dane dogs were delivered to new adoptive parents on the Big Island.
The dogs arrived just before noon Sunday at George's Aviation at Honolulu International Airport, wearing leis for the special occasion. There was Rambo, who's the 4-year-old grandson of the other two dogs, 9-year-old Mokka (pronounced mocha) the light-colored female, and Polo, 8.
The dogs belonged to Black, who used them as therapy animals at hospitals and nursing homes for years. Black died April 5 of lung cancer. Before she died, she appealed to the media for help in finding a new home where all three dogs could live together.
Their new owners paid for a charter flight to the Big Island on an eight-passenger Piper Chieftan with half of the seats removed to make room for the great danes.
"It's been a long journey to try to find the perfect home for Sharon's beloved dogs. It was over 400 people that we interviewed and Toby and his wife Tai were all around the perfect family to go to," said Susan Siu, who culled through the emails and phone messages left by would-be adoptive parents and helped choose Toby and Tai King of the Big Island.
The dogs relaxed during most of the hour-long ride to Waimea, lying down and even napping a bit.
"There were a few moments when they got a little nervous (during some turbulence), but they were all comfortable and they had somebody petting them the entire way," Siu said.
Once the plane arrived at the Waimea-Kohala airport, the dogs got off the plane and they met their new parents, and then got drinks of water.
"Our family has raised great danes for the last thirty years. All of them were rescues except for our last two puppies," Toby King said.
The dogs arrived at their new home at mid afternoon Sunday, at the 120-acre Kehena cattle ranch in North Kohala.
"I think they're going to really enjoy living on the ranch," King said. "We have to introduce them to my horse and the cows and we have a cat. But they're going to be learning what pheasants are and turkeys."
"I'm really glad that we're able to do this, and I would hope that if we were in the same condition that Ms. Black was, that somebody would do the same for us," King said.
King said they would live inside the King's 107-year-old ranch house. Each of them has a new Tempurpedic dog bed.
The Kings told Siu about Duke, one of the family's adopted great danes that died in 2003. The dog is memorialized in this headstone under an ohia lehua tree in their yard.
When they compared notes, Siu and the Kings realized Duke had once belonged to Black.
"We all got chicken skin," Siu said, adding everyone realized that the new home for these dogs was meant to be.
"And Sharon will be smiling down on us today because I know this is a wish that has been fulfilled and her children, her friends and her family, and her aunties and uncles, all of us are thrilled. Even though it's bittersweet," Siu said.