Talking of kindness to animals – this post from Amanda at the Juvenile Inspector seemed appropriate:
This year, I am planning on flying to Honolulu to do research on Mormon communities such as Laie and Lahaina. Hawai’i’s official tourism website assures me that I will enjoy the “clear, blue waters of Kailua beach,” “the metropolitan cityscapes of Honolulu,” and “the historic architecture of Iolani Palace.” (http://www.gohawaii.com/oahu/about). Had I traveled there in the nineteenth century, however, I would have found myself surrounded not by luxurious hotels and volleyball courts but a multitude of half-fed, half-wild dogs and cats.
When William Root Bliss visited the city in 1873, he discovered that what should have been a quiet port city had been transformed into a noisy, yowling place by the pets of its residents. “Every family,” he reported, “keeps at least one dog; every native family a brace of cats.” In addition to these beloved pets, there were five thousand homeless animals and a gaggle of cocks and chickens for cockfighting. As soon as dusk hit, a single crow would caw, asking how Bliss liked “Hoo-ner-loo-loo.” It wasn’t long before a dozen of his compatriots had joined in. The dogs would then begin to howl, joined by the cats who protest with “every vowel sound in the Hawaiian language.” It was impossible, he wrote, for him to sleep. Although Mark Twain did not comment on his ability to sleep in Honolulu, he wrote in Roughing It that when he arrived in Honolulu, he saw a profusion of cats – “Tom cats, Mary Ann cats, long-tailed cats, bob-tailed cats, one-eyed cats, wall-eyed cats, cross-eyed cats, gray cats, black cats, white cats, yellow cats, spotted cats, tame cats, wild cats, individual cats, groups of cats, platoons of cats, companies of cats, regiments of cats, armies of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats, and all of them sleek, fat, lazy and sound asleep.” Nor was it simply travelers who noted the massive number of animals in Honolulu. Even local newspapers sometimes opined the infestation. On March 19, 1875, for example, The Islander reported that a young girl passing through the island had simply said “O I saw plenteo dogs!” when asked to describe Honolulu. The newspaper then told its audience that the description was “a brief and truthful description” of the city in its “salient points.” The number of dogs had been increasing in the city in spite of the attempts of the government to control the population.
Although the earliest Mormon missionaries arrived nearly twenty years before these reports were printed, they too noted the prevalence of animals in the city – the numerous, dogs, cats, hogs, and chickens that seemed to swell the streets. Joseph F. Smith, in particular, noted their presence in his diaries. He found their ubiquity within the homes of native Hawaiians disturbing. With few exceptions, he wrote in his July 4th, 1856 journal entry, “hoges, doges, cates and they live together.” The animals he saw were not the clean pets that he had envisioned in Utah. He saw “doges particularly besides other animals, compleately covered with the itch so that there have had all left their bodies in a scale.” What disturbed him most was the close contact such animals had with his food. In one Hawaiian home, he complained, he had seen a dog “its eyes and mouth… drolling,” its body more skin than bones, and its flesh covered with “running sores and scabs” standing over the “calabash of poi” that he was to eat.
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