story by Michael Shapiro
photos by Monte Costa
Deep in the green valley at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu’s windward coast, I’m enjoying a perfect Hawaiian morning: Breezes ruffle the kukui leaves, and the sea reflects a cloudless sky. And I would be at ease but for one small thing: I’m being hunted.
Raven, a black labrador,
is Hawaii's first certified
Makai, a wolfish black Belgian shepherd with a slender snout, predatory eyes and what his handler disconcertingly calls a "high hunt drive," is hot on my trail. Two hours earlier, I helped lay a 300-meter scent track by walking down a dirt road, traipsing through a meadow of dewy sedge grass, bushwhacking along a dry gully dense with strawberry guava and finally crossing another open sward of tall grass to the kukui grove. And here I wait, looking back toward the meadow to see whether Makai can pick up my rapidly decaying scent and find me. If he can, I’m instructed to make the event seem like the greatest thing that ever happened in dogdom. Equipped with his "paycheck"—his favorite pull toy and a handful of meaty-smelling treats—I’m ready to throw the biggest party of Makai’s life.