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Meet Pono, Turtle Bay Resort’s Canine Ambassador

Posted on Fri, 2018/06/01 - 11:14pm by Jessica Gellert

Alicia McCumbers with Pono

Get ready “fur” a real treat! There’s a paw-some new member of the Turtle Bay Ohana. Meet Pono, Turtle Bay Resort's official canine ambassador!

“Being on 850 acres on the North Shore allows Turtle Bay Resort to develop unique programs that enhance the guest experience,” said Jerry Gibson, Turtle Bay Resort's Vice President.  “Adopting a fur friend from Hawaii Fi-Do was a natural fit to our pet-friendly resort, adding a fun way to explore our five miles of unspoiled ocean coastline, 15 miles of hiking trails, and private horse and pony stables.”

Pono was born in Waimea, on the Big Island March 5, 2018. He comes from a service dog family, all bred and raised by the trainers at Hawaii Fi-Do Service Dogs. The small, nonprofit provides service dogs to people with disabilities other than blindness. The nonprofit’s goal is to provide greater independence and enhanced quality of life.

Pono Turtle Bay Resort

Pono will be enhancing the quality of life for guests - that’s “fur” sure. As a puppy, he will be hanging out with visitors in the lobby at the Guidepost. When he gets older, he will be joining guests on a guided hiking tour of Turtle Bay Resort’s trails.

“When I first met Pono, I fell in love with his adorable big brown eyes,” gushed Alicia McCumbers, Turtle Bay’s Experiential Director, and Pono’s mom. “I could tell right away that he was a perfect fit for us here at the resort. He has a great temperament and is a super quick learner.”

How did Pono get his name? Pono is the Hawaiian word for righteousness and is actually one of the employee values at Turtle Bay Resort. The color associated with Pono is white. His litter mates all had names at an early age to start training.  Pono was originally named “Polar Bear” due to his fluffy white fur. 

“He did look like a baby polar bear with all of his white fur. He was a lot lighter than his brothers and sisters who had the typical characteristics of a yellow Labrador retriever,” explained McCumbers. “The transition from being named Polar Bear to Pono was an easy one for him since they start off with the same sound.”

Pono is currently getting ready to undergo training at Hawaii Fi-Do with McCumbers. The goal is for Pono to become a certified service dog.

dog with rope

When he’s not in the lobby greeting guests or out hiking, Pono will be hanging out at the stables, where he loves to play with all of his toys, chase leaves as they blow in the wind and take a good nap. He’s already fitting in with the ohana. He gets along with the barn cat, Doug, and he is intrigued by all the horses.

dog with horse at Turtle Bay Resort

Turtle Bay Resort is a pet-friendly hotel but for those who choose not to bring their dog along for vacation or don’t have a furry best friend, Pono will be there to make their stay extra paw-some.

Pono will officially be making his rounds at the resort in late June. If you see him, be sure to say, “Aloha.”

To learn more about Hawaii Fi-Do service dogs, visit:

Turtle Bay Resort has a donation box at the stables to help the nonprofit continue to raise amazing dogs like Pono, who will make a difference serving others with aloha.

puppy smiling at Turtle Bay Resort

Fun Facts About Pono

Birthday: March 5, 2018

Location of Birth: Waimea, Big Island, Hawaii

Breed: Labrador Retriever
Education: Working towards his Hawaii Fi-Do service dog certification
Special Traits: Fast learner, super cuddly, looks like a polar bear
Tricks & Skills: Fetches like a boss, known to have people fall in love with him at first sight!

For updates from Pono himself, follow him on Instagram at @PonoTurtleBay

Mahalo to Turtle Bay Resort Stables Guide Christina @TinaLoy79 on Instagram