Thank You, Trivia & Gus!

< A version of this article was published in the FEB 2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 07FEB21 >

< A short link for this page – >

January marks the anniversaries of two of the dogs that have been part of my life. They have both passed, but there is not a day I do not think about them or acknowledge how they helped me to become a better dog trainer and a better person.

Trivia – I had wanted a dog since I was five years old. My parents finally succumbed when I was 17.  I found a puppy at a pet store that was described as “A Poodle/Keeshond mix, and they never found the father.” I didn’t care about the breed; I just wanted a dog. Trivia had wavy hair and was as excited to see me as I was to see her. It was love at first sight. I left the pet shop with her, a collar, a leash, food and water bowls, a couple of toys, a rawhide, and the name of the veterinarian recommended by the pet shop. I was thirty plus dollars poorer but felt like the richest guy on the planet.

Why my parents let me get a dog at this point in our lives, I will never know. I suspect it had something to do with the fact that we had lost my older sister to a brain tumor just days before Christmas. Looking back, their decision makes even less sense, as my dad was scheduled to retire in two months, and they planned on traveling.  I was a junior in high school, active in many extracurricular activities, and had a girlfriend. You know what happened and who did most of the work of caring for Trivia the first few years of her life. My mom. Thank you, mom and dad, for your crazy decision to let me get a dog. It was clearly based on love with no logic involved.

In 1977 I knew nothing about training a dog or the benefits of training a dog, and no one suggested I train Trivia. I regret I did not know then what I know now as I believe I could have made Trivia’s life so much better. Trivia inspires me to help my clients and students do all they can for their furry companions. Thank you, Trivia; you were small but were in no way trivial.  [ FMI – ]

Gus (Laird Gustav MacMoose) – Gus was the first puppy Paula and I raised together. He was a Cairn Terrier, and despite our knowing better, we bought him at a pet shop. Most of my friends in the pet care professions believe that we learn the most from the dogs that are difficult. Paula and I remember Gus as the equivalent of a post-doctoral program.

  • Gus bit me on our first night in puppy class due to my ignorance and the class’s two instructors’ arrogance. That led to my interest in canine behavior and training. [ FMI – ]
  • Gus was the epitome of a silent thief. He walked off with tools from people working in our home and stole food right out of our hands and those of some of our staff. He taught me that the management of a dog and his environment was as crucial as training.
  • Within the first few months of his life, Gus developed a chronic urinary tract infection, which caused crystals to form in his urine. His veterinarian felt it was due to nutrition but could offer little advice other than to suggest resources where we could teach ourselves more about his nutritional needs. That led to a lifelong interest in pet nutrition for Paula and me and a commitment to educating others. We eventually found the answer for Gus’ crystals in 1997.[ FMI – ]
  • Thunderstorms were a significant event for Gus. One to two hours before the thunder and lightning started, he would become agitated. By the time the storm arrived, he was barking and lunging at the door to get outside so he could “kill it.” Most dogs that have issues with thunderstorms want to hide. Not Gus. The medications prescribed by his veterinarian were of no help, nor was the
    Don & Gus in 1991, Before the Alpha Roll

    desensitization CD played at very low levels on a world-class sound system. Gus knew the difference between a real storm and one on the stereo. The closest we came to a cure was moving from Wisconsin to Maine, where thunderstorms were not as frequent.

  • Gus started having seizures as he became older, which were diagnosed as idiopathic epilepsy. Like everything else in his life, Gus lived large, even with seizures, each in the Grand Mal category. He was treated for many years with the medications in use at that time. Even then, he would still have a seizure about every ten days. Eventually, we could not increase the dose of his medication without harming his liver. Paula started investigating complementary therapies such as homeopathy and acupuncture. Gus finally found his most significant relief from seizures through acupuncture, which, interestingly, also stooped his reactivity to thunderstorms. Both Paula and I credit Gus for opening our minds to complementary healing modalities that we now use with our pets and ourselves to supplement traditional medicine.

Gus was ultimately the catalyst that caused Paula and me to join the ranks of pet care professionals and to buy Green Acres Kennel Shop. He inspired our interest in behavior, training, nutrition, and complementary healthcare. While there were times, Gus frustrated us beyond belief; there was not a day he did not make us laugh. Thank you, Gus!

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
(  )

 Our Pets – Remembering Trivia (13NOV74 – 04AUG89) –

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too!

In Memory of Gus (1991 – 2004)


Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. He serves on the PPG Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and is the Chair of The Shock-Free Coalition ( ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog:  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©07FEB21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Our Pets – In Memory of Crystal

Crystal joined our family in May of 1998. She was a cute little, ten-yearold Pekingese, in need of a home because her former owner was in poor health and no longer able to give Crystal the care she needed. Paula took her under her wing and introduced her to the rest of our rambunctious pack. Crystal held her own with the others and never failed to amuse us with some of her silly antics. In 2002 Crystals’s health began to decline. She could no longer see well and making her body do what her mind wanted was more and more difficult. During May she chose to spend more and more time in her crate and seemed to have lost her spark. On May 31st, 2002 we took her in for her annual physical and made that very difficult decision to help her across the rainbow bridge to be with her old buddy Beau.

Crystal, we will never forget that big dog attitude in that little body, your ability to steal toys from the other dogs and your Lab like appetite. Most memorable was the way you would fall backward with each bark, as you tried to tell Tikken she had no right to be in the backyard unsupervised. Take care and thanks!

©31MAY16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Our Pets – In Memory of Tyler

Tyler joined our family on March 20th, 1996, about six months after we purchased Green Acres. His previous guardian was looking to place him in a new home, and we thought he would make a welcome addition to our family. We are not sure how old he was when he came to live with us but suspect that he was at least four. Tyler suddenly developed cancer in August of 2003, and while we kept him comfortable for as long as we could, we decided it was time to help him across the Rainbow Bridge on August 26th.

I have always tested as being “very allergic” to cats, so our initial plan was for Tyler to live in the store, where he could greet clients and serve as the official “mouse patrol.” Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, this did not last long. We quickly learned that Tyler was part retriever and lived by the motto, “If it is edible, eat it now, in mass quantities.” He had no compunction about ripping into the largest, most expensive bag of dog food for a little midnight snack. When this became an every night occurrence, we decided it was not economically viable to have Tyler “protect the food from mice.” As a result, he moved into the house with us; allergies be damned.

At the time, there were five adults in the house (Paula, me, Paula’s mom and my mom and dad) and three dogs (Shed, Gus, and Queen). While Paula and her mom had lived with cats before, it was a first for my parents and me. The three of us did not consider ourselves “cat people.” In fact, I would even go so far as to say that my father disliked cats. Tyler did his best to change that and started with the most unlikely subject, my dad.

Dad’s time with us in Maine was difficult. He was in the hospital and nursing home frequently. To my initial amazement, the pet he almost always asked about was Tyler. I still remember asking the nurses at EMMC if we could bring Tyler in to visit, and how happy dad was to see him. He snuggled up on the bed next to him, and the two of them were content as “two bugs in a rug.” I have no idea how Tyler converted dad, but I am very grateful for it. They were good buddies.

We quickly learned that if we wanted to sleep peacefully, we needed to close and latch our bedroom door. Tyler was banned from the bedroom because of my allergies and his desire to try and sleep on our heads. However, early every morning he would come knocking on the door, wanting breakfast. If the door were not latched, he would eventually get it to open, hop on the bed, and start head butting one of us to let us know he was ready for breakfast.

Tyler still liked visiting in the store, and we would occasionally allow him to do so, under supervision. We noticed how well Tyler did with the dogs, and for a couple of years, he would assist Kate and me with dog training classes. I can still remember the time Tyler sauntered through a room full of dogs, not the least bit threatened. There was a huge Great Dane, and he just sat in front of him, gave him “the look,” much like a General inspecting the troops, and then went on his way.

After my father and Paula’s mom had passed in the fall of 1996, Tyler spent lots of time with my mom. He was a great companion for her and gave mom someone to spend time with when Paula and I were working in the store. When Tyler was not on her lap, he was nearby, watching her.








Almost a year after Tyler joined the family, an 8-week old Golden Retriever puppy named Tikken entered the equation. I do not know exactly how their relationship developed, but it was evident Tikken, and Tyler were fast friends. Whether sharing the love seat in the living room, playing or, enjoying a full body massage, they were frequent companions. I will never forget the time I came up to the house from the kennel and found Tyler lying on the couch as Tikken used her front paws to gently bat at his entire body. As strange as it may sound, they were both enjoying this activity. Up until the end, Tikken was around to give her friend kisses, to play, and to clean him as necessary. Tyler got along well with most dogs and enjoyed spending time with them, usually just relaxing.

Tyler was big on relaxing and felt comfortable enough in our home, co-populated with as many as five dogs, to rest anywhere. The arm of a love seat, the floor, boxes, and bags all made excellent spots for chilling out.








As previously stated, when we moved to Maine I was not a “cat person. I had never felt a connection with a cat the same way that I had with dogs. Somewhere during the past couple of years, I am not sure exactly when that changed, and I realize now that I am a cat person. I enjoy their company, their antics, and the joy they bring.

Over the past several months, Tyler and I developed a ritual. Often, when I was working late at night, he would come down to my office, rub up against my legs once, and then settle down on Tikken’s bed, right behind my desk chair. He might just lie there watching me or drift off into a catnap. Often I would find myself watching him. During his naps, I got to witness first hand how cats dream and the strange noises they can make in their sleep. I guess one of the factors in my discovering I am a cat person was when I found myself missing Tyler’s company on the nights he chose not to join me in the office. My office is a sadder place without his presence.

Tyler Hanson passed into a peaceful sleep on Tuesday, August 26th. I know in my heart he has rejoined my father, Shed, and Crystal and is patiently awaiting the day when we will all be reunited. Tyler, thanks for brightening up our home and helping to teach me about the wonder of cats.





©20MAR17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Our Pets – Remembering Tikken (15JAN97 – 7FEB13)

It has been four years since Tikken crossed the Rainbow Bridge. When a furry companion passes, it has been my tradition to write a memorial. I still have not been able to sit down to write and bring closure to Tikken’s story. It is just too hard. What I am doing today is sharing the part of her story that I have already written.

<To be continued>

On, January 15th, 2011, our Golden Retriever Tikken (Mariner Freedom Fighter) celebrated her fourteenth birthday. Over the years many have asked, “Why Tikken?” Some people have thought it is because as a puppy she was like a clock and always “ticking.” There is a deeper story to Tikken’s name and this year through the miracle of Google I was able to learn more about Tikken’s namesake.

Tikken was born on Martin Luther King Day in 1997. Due to her birthdate, Tikken’s breeders, Jon and Kathy Chase of Mariner Kennels, named this litter of pups the “Freedom litter.” They asked that all of us receiving a pup use the word “Freedom” in their AKC registered name. After giving it some thought, I decided on “Mariner Freedom Fighter.” Outside of dogs one of my interests has always been World War Two, especially the resistance movement. Members of the resistance were commonly called “freedom fighters.”

I next had to choose Tikken’s call name and wanted something I could connect to her registered name. An early thought was to call her “Kira,” after Kira Nerys, a character on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who was a former member of the Bajoran resistance. I then decided that I wanted to name my pup after a real female resistance fighter. Since I am half-Norwegian and have been particularly interested in the resistance movement in Norway during World War Two, I decided to see if I could identify a Norwegian female resistance fighter to be my inspiration. Not sure where to go I went to an email list for Golden Retriever fans on the internet, and a Norwegian member of the list suggested the name “Tikken.”

This year I finally learned more about my Tikken’s namesake via Google and the translation of a review of the book Tikken Manus by Nora Campbell.

Tikken is named after Norwegian freedom fighter and patriot, “Antiquity” Ida Nikoline Lie Lindebrække, who was nicknamedTikken.”  During the war, she worked as a secretary at the British legation in Stockholm, Sweden where she was a principal intermediary between the Norwegian resistance in the Company Linge and the British military. For her efforts during the war, Tikken was decorated with King Haakon VII’s Freedom Medal. Tikken later married Max Manus, one of the leaders of Company Linge.


Tikken Lindebrække as a child
Tikken Lindebrække and Max Manus
Tikken and Max Manus 1950
Tikken and Max Manus in 1995.


Tikken Manus in 2008

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (


Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathy




©7FEB17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Our Pets – Remembering Shed

shed-at-counter-newsletterShed, our 16 year old Border Collie mix, passed away on December 18th, 2002 . She was a marvelous companion to us, our pets, family members and friends for 11 years. We miss her greatly.

We originally adopted Shed as a companion for us and for our 10 month old Cairn Terrier puppy. Gus needed a friend and some “motherly” guidance. We couldn’t have asked for a better mother than Shed. We can still fondly remember sitting in our McFarland living room, watching Shed and Gus tear around the sofa in their nightly version of the “puppy races.”

Shed was one of those dogs who came to us almost perfect. One of her few vices gus-queen-shed-in-wiwas baked goods. We still laugh about the time we brought home a fresh-baked loaf of oatmeal bread from the bakery, and unaware of Shed’s penchant for baked goods left it on the kitchen counter. When we came home the entire loaf of bread was gone and Shed was a very happy dog, wondering what we had brought home this time. During her last months of life Shed experienced substantial cognitive dysfunction, but her instincts for baked goods remained well intact. All you had to do was to walk into a room with any type of baked good, and she instantly zeroed in on the object of her desire. We firmly believe that like Don and his father, Shed was a “Pastry Pointer.”

Shed’s other vice was her constant kissing. If you gave her the opportunity, she would lick you forever, whether you were human or canine, family member, friend or stranger. It took some getting used to, but she obviously got so much joy from it, we never tried to extinguish the behavior.

We almost lost Shed to autoimmune hemolytic anemia in the fall of 1994, but thanks to the heroic efforts of the Madison Emergency Vet Clinic and the dogged determination of Dr. Dave Warner, formerly of the Arbor Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Shed pulled through and was able to give us her love and companionship for 8 more years. We were often near tears during the 4 months Shed suffered from this devastating disorder. At the times when we could no longer bear to see here submit to the daily blood draws, Dave gave us all the courage to go on. Thank you Dave!

Less than a year after Shed’s recovery, in the fall of 1995, we moved to a new life in Maine as owners of the Green Acres Kennel Shop. Shed made the transition well and was always a favorite of our clients and staff. When she wasn’t in the store itself, she was on the other side of the door to the house, sniffing and snorting under the door. Trying to catch a scent of who was there and what was going on, her nasal contortions were so loud we often had to explain exactly what it was that was behind the door.

EPSON DSC picture
EPSON DSC picture

Shed was deeply attached to Paula, her surrogate mother. She was like a shadow, always there, always wanting to be a part of every activity. When Paula would go down to the kennel, Shed would lie by the door awaiting her return. If she went somewhere in the car, Shed would remain by the window, watching for Paula’s return, whereupon, Shed would lead all of the dogs in what can only be described as a heartwarming group howl.

In 1996 Shed became a certified Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs International. We took her and Gus, also a TDI dog, to visit folks at local nursing homes but it quickly became evident that Shed wasn’t enjoying the work. While her visits were limited, she helped me train and evaluate countless other dog/handler teams in my role as an instructor and TDI evaluator. I couldn’t have asked for a better dog for this purpose. Shed, your assistance will be missed greatly.

tikken-and-shed-runningBy the spring of 1997, Shed was in her 10th year and had started to slow down a bit. In March we brought home Tikken, an 8-week old Golden Retriever puppy who became Shed’s pride and joy. We don’t know if Shed had puppies before she was surrendered to the shelter, but based on her care of Gus and Tikken she was a superb mother! Shed and Tikken enjoyed countless romps in our field and Shed’s regular cleaning sessions of “her puppy” continued on until the end. We know Tikken also greatly misses her “mommy”.

EPSON DSC picture
EPSON DSC picture


We knew Shed’s last days were coming near, and on Tuesday, December 17th, 2002 we made an appointment to help her across the rainbow bridge. It was as if Shed was waiting for us to tell her we could let her go. Early on the morning of December 18th she let out several cries and collapsed. She was not in obvious pain, but was acting as though she were just too tired to get up. Paula spent the night with her on the floor in the family room. Even though too tired to move, she was still very interested in breakfast! When Paula went to work, I spent the morning with Shed until the vet arrived in the early afternoon. Paula came up to the house, we all said our goodbyes and let Shed drift off peacefully to rest. We are confident she is again racing around, has her own pastry shop, and is sniffing and snorting at the rainbow bridge, patiently awaiting the day when we will all be together again.


EPSON DSC picture

EPSON DSC picture

EPSON DSC picture


Podcast – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Our Personal Journey

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

24sep16-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-our-personal-journey-400x400This is the first in a series of shows on Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets. Kate and Don start by defining the term “holistic” and then discussing how it applies to dog training and simply living with a dog. They then discuss how and why they started to take a holistic approach to pet care, beginning with experiences with their pets and nutrition. The importance of exercise and mental enrichment are also addressed. Then they discuss their experiences with the following forms of complementary medicine; homeopathy, Bach flower remedies, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and chiropractic. Lastly they mention the Holistic Wellness Day for Pets which will take place at The Green Gem Healing Oasis on Saturday, October 29th. This event will involve ten different seminars and several vendors of holistic products and services for pets. For more information go to the Green Acres Kennel Shop website at

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (

Tikken – Vaccines, Aggression & Homeopathy

Bach Flower Remedies – An Overview of the Bach Flower Remedies

Dogs-Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2)


Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (


PODCAST – Pet Health and Wellness – Don and Kate’s Journey with Complementary Medicine

PODCAST – Bach Flower Remedies for Pets with Don Hanson, BFRAP – part 1

PODCAST – Bach Flower Remedies for Pets with Don Hanson, BFRAP – part 2


©24SEP16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Our Pets – Remembering Hanger

After Batman had passed in April of 2013, we talked about getting another cat, but Paula indicated she was not ready. That was until a June day in 2014 when she came home with Hanger.

In Memory of Hanger 800x800Hanger was 12 years old and in need of a home when Paula found her at the ARK in Cherryfield, ME. She was named Hanger because apparently as a kitten she enjoyed hanging on window screens.

Hanger settled into our home very quickly, extremely tolerant of Muppy’s curiosity about the new addition sitting in Paula’s lap every night. If Paula was in her recliner, the odds were Hanger would be either on her lap or lying on her chest.

In December Hanger was having some issues with one of her ears which ended up being diagnosed as a squamous cell carcinoma in January. The typical surgical intervention, removal of the ear canal, would have been quite traumatic for Hanger so on the advice of Hanger’s veterinarian we elected to explore other options. Working with our homeopathic veterinarian, we saw significant improvement and all of the lesions in Hanger’s ear disappeared very quickly.

Unfortunately by July of 2015 Hanger had become less social, ate less and was losing weight. While additional treatments helped some, she had not eaten for the past few days. At her examination on August 4th, 2014 it was evident that she had a growth inside her nasal cavity which was making it difficult if not impossible to eat. Sadly we decided it was time to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Hanger you were only with us for a short time, but you fit right in and we feel fortunate to have had you as part of our family. Hanger, rest easy and thank you for sharing your life with us.

©04AUG16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Hanger-27JUL14-2 1071x800

Hanson family 2014 HPP-7 797x1200

Hanger and Paula-27JUL14-3 565x800

Paula and Hanger-1 797x1200Hanger Snoozing in Muppys bed-2014 1200x675Hanger-Snoozing in Dads Chair-30JUN14-10 1200x675Hanger-30JUN14-6 1195x800

Our Pets – Remembering Trivia (13NOV74 – 04AUG89)

< Updated 15JAN21 )

< A short link to this post – >

This morning (13JAN10) as I opened my Outlook calendar I saw a small notation in purple, the color I use to denote birthdays and anniversaries, stating “Trivia Arrives (1975).” It was thirty-five years ago today that I brought home my first dog, a cute little ball of black fluff I would name Trivia and end up calling “Trivy” for short.

TriviaI had wanted a dog since I was five. We lived in an apartment most of my childhood and a dog had never been an option. The autumn of my junior year in high school we moved into a house, and that changed. Around my seventeenth birthday, my parents told me I could get a dog but that I would need to be financially responsible for it. They made it clear that it would be my job to feed it and more importantly, especially to my father, it would be me that would pick-up the “dog crap.”

As I look back now, I understand how my parent’s decision could be considered to be less than wise. My dad would be retiring in a year, and my parents most certainly realized that I was at an age when I would not be around as much. They loved to travel and to get a dog now would clearly tie them down. They knew that I planned on going to college and must of suspected that I would not live up to my end of the deal, but they said yes. I am so grateful that they did.

I started my search for my first dog at the Dane County Humane Society, but I could not find the “right dog” for me. I ended up at the Monroe Street Pet Shop in Madison, WI, which unlike most pet shops at the time, sold mixed breed puppies. That was all I could afford and as far as I was concerned a dog was a dog. I had no clear vision of breed or look; I just wanted a dog.

The pet shop had two puppies reported to be from a mother that was a Poodle/Keeshond mix. The clerk joked “They never caught the father.” One of the pups had a Poodle-like coat and was quiet and shy. The other pup, the one I would take home and name Trivia, had wavy hair and was as excited to see me as I was to see her. It was love at first sight. I left the pet shop with Trivia, a collar, a leash, food and water bowls, a couple of toys, a rawhide, and the name of the veterinarian recommended by the pet shop. I was thirty plus dollars poorer but felt like the richest guy on the planet.

Over the next few days, I made sure Trivia had her shots and was spayed. I fed her a veterinarian recommended puppy food, got her licensed, and loved her. However, I certainly didn’t provide her with the level of care and devotion she deserved or what we would expect today.

I made no attempts to train Trivy and at the time had no idea dog training classes even existed. As a result, Trivia was not house trained properly as a puppy. When we moved again a year later, she ended up spending time in the basement or an outside pen when I was not around to prevent accidents in the house. Sadly, as I became more interested in girls and other extracurricular activities, I was around less and less. My mom, as so many mothers do, ended up stepping in and taking care of Trivia, making sure she had food and water, opportunities to go outside and some level of human interaction. I did not exactly abandon Trivia, but she was clearly not the priority she should have been, and as a result spent more time outside or in the basement then she should have.

Like many dogs, Trivia loved the snow. I still remember that first winter when she would dive into a fluffy snow bank and bury her head, then pull it out to shake off the snow. She was a social butterfly in that she never met a person she did not like. When I had friends over or had a party, Trivia always had to be in the middle of it, and my friends always insisted that she be there.

She was afraid of rabbits or at least acted like it. I can still picture the day we walked around a corner of the house and came within three feet of a cottontail. The rabbit just sat there, and Trivia immediately rolled over on her back before the rabbit could strike.

Snakes were a different matter. We found evidence of several snakes she had dispatched in her pen and even one in the basement. When we would take her for walks, we started to notice how Trivia would detect snakes well over 60 feet away. It is fortunate for her we had no venomous snakes where we lived.

Trivia liked toys and was especially fond of an old tennis shoe. My father was more than a bit distressed at her amorous adventures with that shoe, questioning poor Trivia’s sexuality. Strangely Trivia was never a big chewer other than some minor puppy explorations on a kitchen cabinet. She still had her one and only rawhide the day she died, as intact as it was the day I brought her home as a puppy.

Although I had never taught her bite inhibition Trivia was not a voracious play biter, nor did she ever bite anyone. I am proud to say that she never experienced the physical pain of a choke collar or a leash correction, nor was she ever yelled at. I did not teach her to sit; I had no idea how to do that nor could I see a compelling reason why I should teach her to sit.

When Paula and I got married three years later, I was around even less as we moved into our apartment leaving Trivia with my parents. A year and a half later I graduated from college, and we moved into another apartment, even further away, to be close to my new job. Finally, when Trivia was about six and a half years old, we were able to buy our first home. It was a duplex, so we were reunited with Trivia as well as my parents.

We finally got Trivia a crate. When we were away at work, she spent time out in her pen or with my parents. When we were home, she spent time with us and at night slept in her crate. She still loved toys and had a green frog and an old sock that were favorites. She still had the old tennis shoe, but that was kept out in her pen.

It was at this time that we started to call her “Hoover” for the excellent job she did cleaning up the crumbs in the dining room and kitchen. Somehow she also must have overcome her fear of rabbits as we also had two Netherland Dwarfs at the time and she just ignored them. We would take her for walks in the park down near the river and had a great time together.

Life continued, and when Trivia was almost twelve years old, I changed jobs. Once again I was driving over an hour to work, and when Paula started doing the same a year later, we rented a small apartment in Madison. We stayed there during the week while Trivia stayed with my parents at our house. We still got to see her most weekends, and my parents were quite attached to her, but it was also evident that Trivia missed our being around. Sadly, that situation remained until Trivia crossed the rainbow bridge three years later.

Whether due to hybrid vigor or something else Trivia was the epitome of the good of health. She never had a flea collar or flea shampoo, things like FrontLine and Sentinel did not even exist, and in spite of all the time she spent outdoors she never had a flea. She was never ill and never experienced an accident that required an emergency trip to the vet until the last six months of her life.

The decline in Trivia’s health started with bladder control issues and then some trouble getting around. Then one day she tumbled down the stairs, and I thought for sure we had lost her. She was barely breathing and motionless. It was a Sunday, and this was before the days of emergency veterinary hospitals. We finally found a vet that offered 24-hour service and rushed Trivia off to see him. She survived, but it was shortly after that that she was diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome. Paula was working for a veterinarian at the time, and we started Trivia on a course of treatment, but she quietly passed away in her sleep a few days later just a few months shy of what would have been her fifteenth birthday.

I know there are those that insist animals have no souls and therefore that we will not be reunited with them in the afterlife. I do not know what the “afterlife” is, but I am quite confident that Trivia is there and has been watching me and guiding me every day since she crossed the rainbow bridge. She has helped me be a better guardian to the dogs that joined our family after her (Gus, Shed, Queenie, Crystal, Tikken and Dulcie). Every day my experiences with Trivia help me work with others and their dogs. I know Trivia influences me every single day.

Trivia you were small of stature and your name suggests you were unimportant and insignificant, but nothing could be further from the truth. You had a huge heart and a tremendous capacity to give. Thank you for being part of my life then and now.

©4AUG16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Our Pets – In Memory of Louise

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of or cat Louise. This morning she was in her basket on the steps in the store, breathing but not conscious. She In Memory of Louise 400x400had been having a more difficult time the past couple of days and due to her age and health issues, we decided to help her across the Rainbow Bridge this morning.

Louise and her sister Thelma joined the Green Acres Kennel Shop family on May 15th, 2001. Louise was probably 2 to 3 years old at the time, and Thelma was about eight months of age. They were barn cats before joining our family, so their exact date of birth is unknown. We had decided we wanted a resident rodent patrol and also thought that clients would enjoy interacting with the cats

1st day at Green Acres
1st day at Green Acres

in the store. Paula found the two of them on a farm and brought them home to Green Acres. After a short discussion, we named them Louise and Thelma.

Louise liked people and liked being close, to the point of often being underfoot. If there were ever a lap cat, it was Louise. If you sat down on a chair in the store, she would typically be on your lap in seconds. In the first few years, she was with us when we had orientation

On the retail counter
On the retail counter

sessions for our Basic Manners classes; Louise would often sneak into the training room and move from lap to lap. If she was not on a lap, she’d often be on the retail counter or would find a spot in one of the cubbies under the counter.

Both Louise, and Thelma connected with many clients and all of our staff over the past fifteen years. Due to Louise’s need for medication the past few years for her thyroid and blood pressure, staff had an opportunity to experience her moods quite well. I am quite sure that everyone has his or her own Louise story to tell; Thelma & Louise Go for a Drive-JAN11 by Kaila Moore 750x800however, one of our employees, Kaila Moore decided to share hers in this drawing. Thank you, Kaila, it fits the girls well.

Unlike her sister Thelma, Louise just did not understand dogs. Where Thelma would just quietly walk away from them, Louise would stare, hiss and then run away as fast as she could. One day a dog decided to give chase and Thelma jumped down from the shelf she was sitting on and landed between the dog and Louise, defending her older, but smaller sister.

Many people always thought Louise was a kitten due to her diminutive size. Her tiny head and abbreviated tail always generated curiosity from those seeing her for the first time. As I mentioned, Louise was a barn cat before joining us. Being underfoot amongst cows led to her tail being stepped on and permanently shortened by a cow hoof. Her tail was almost totally healed when she joined us and its shortened length never seemed to bother her.

Louise also loved to sleep and could turn almost any spot into a bed, with or without Thelma.

Snuggling in the basket
Snuggling in the basket
Snoozing in the Furry Friends Food Bank collection basket
Snoozing in the Furry Friends Food Bank collection basket








Snuggling with sister - Who needs two beds?
Snuggling with sister – Who needs two beds?
EPSON DSC picture
Making a bed in the rawhide rack








It's Our Anniversary! (May 2013)
It’s Our Anniversary! (May 2013)
Snuggling under the retail counter
Snuggling under the retail counter








Also high on Louise’s list of favorite things was food. She was always there at meal time and always ready for more. As she went through periods of becoming plump, she reminded many of us of a feline Buddha, hence her occasional nickname Buddha.

Louise was always there for her little sister Thelma and in the early days, they would play with other often although like most sisters they had their occasional spats. While they each had individual baskets for sleeping, more often than not they would crawl into a basket together even in the middle of a hot, humid summer day. When I checked them last night before going to bed, Louise was snuggled in basket sleeping and Thelma was lying in front of the basket watching over her. Perhaps she knew.

Farewell Louise. You enriched the life of many people, and I cannot think of a single day that you failed to generate many smiles. Please send our love to all of the rest of our pets waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge.

I'm well balanced (NOV 2001)
I’m well balanced (NOV 2001)
Keeping the chair warm as I wait for a lap
Keeping the chair warm as I wait for a lap








Lying around is exhausting!
Lying around is exhausting!
Yes! I'm a paperweight.
Yes! I’m a paperweight.








On the wall at Castle Black watching for wildings
On the wall at Castle Black watching for wildings
Practicing martial arts with a balloon
Practicing martial arts with a balloon









©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Training – A Rescue Dogs Perspective

< Updated 1 APR18 >

< A version of this article was published in the January 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News>


Hi, everyone! My name is Muppy. Don asked me to write this month’s column because he thought I could provide some valuable insights. Plus he said if I did this for him I would get some extra tummy rubs and yummy treats!

So what do I know about being a rescue dog? I am one, thanks to the kindness and compassion of several people in my birth state of Mississippi. I might not be here without them. I was living with a family, I had puppies, and then one day my people moved away and left, and my puppies and I were all alone. Fortunately, a nice lady named Catherine heard about me and rescued me by taking me to Rose, another nice lady. Rose fostered my puppies and me until we could be put up for adoption. I took good care of my pups until they were eight weeks old and then they were transported to New England to new homes. Soon after that, I was also sent to a rescue group in Maine, Helping Paws-Maine, where I was placed into a foster home until I was adopted. I got to ride to Maine with my friend Ernie who was also going up for adoption.

I did not know it, but Don and Paula were looking for a dog about the same time I was arriving in Maine. They found me on PetFinder, completed an application and made an appointment to meet me at my Maine foster home with another nice lady named Victoria.

When I first met Don and Paula in my foster home, they were sitting on a couch with Ernie. That boy is quite the social butterfly, unlike me at the time. When Don sat down next to me on the floor, I moved away because I was not so sure about him. However, once he started giving me some treats, I decided he was safe!

We all visited for a while, and then Paula and Don did some paperwork and then I got to go for a car ride to Bangor. It was May 1st, and I had a new home! When we arrived in Bangor, Don spent the rest of the day with me. We started off

snuggling on the floor and then I took a nap in his lap while he was in his recliner. I got to explore the yard and that evening I again fell asleep in his lap.

The next morning started with Don taking me out to do my poops and then he sat down on the floor with my breakfast and started teaching me an attention behavior. All I had to do was look at him, and I’d get a piece of kibble. Yummy! I like this game! Over the next few days, I got to meet the staff at Don and Paula’s business, some of the dogs, my new veterinarian and the people at the bank.

Don told me that eventually I would get to go to school, but because I was a bit unsure of new things, especially people, he said he was going to let me settle in first. He hung a bag of treats on the door to his office along with a sign asking people coming in to grab a treat to give to me. Until then he worked with me on the attention behavior, recall and sit. He said I was a fast learner, and I loved how he rewarded me when I got it! He always makes training fun for both of us.

One of the things I started doing in my new home was to jump up on people I liked. I just get so excited when I see a person that I like, that I cannot help myself. I see them and POP! my front paws are on them, and I am smiling, hoping they will pet me and say “Hi.” Since I was shy, Don allowed me to do this as it was so rewarding to me. Since it was something I felt good about it helped me feel good about interacting with people. One day a strange man came to visit Don in his office, and I did not even think about being shy. I just ran up and jumped and said, “Hi! I am Muppy!” He patted and talked to me and was real nice. After that Don told me it looked like I was over my shyness and we would now start to work on sitting for greeting. I do pretty well, most of the time. There are some people that I like so much; I am talking about you Deb and Miriam, that I cannot always contain myself!

I started my first group training class at Green Acres on August 30th, 2013, four months after joining the Hanson family. Both Don and Paula went to class with me; Don says it is very important for all family members to be involved with training.

In that class I learned to do the following on cue; look, sit, lie down, walk nicely on a leash, come when called, leave it, and wait or stay. I have since taken Green Acres Level 2 and Level, 3 classes, as well; some more than once! I love training classes because it is so much fun! It is an opportunity for me to interact with my favorite people whether we are actually in class, or I am working individually with Don on the days in between class. Moreover, when I see Don out in the training field teaching classes filled with other people and dogs; I let him know I want to have fun too! That is why he keeps enrolling us in classes because it is so much fun for both of us.


So I guess this is where I am supposed to tell you what I have learned. Every dog should be trained; training helps establish a bond and makes us better companions. It also makes it possible for us to go more places with you and to spend more time with you. Isn’t that why you got us in the first place, to be your steadfast companion? Work with a professional dog trainer either privately or in group classes as they can help you learn about your dog and make the process of training fun for both of you. Make sure any trainer you work with is committed to methods that are force-free, pain-free, and fear-free. The Pet Professionals Guild ( can be a great resource for finding such a trainer. If you have a rescue dog like me, starting in a group class immediately might not be the best thing to do. A professional trainer can help you make that determination and can help you start working with your dog at home. Lastly, be patient with your dog and yourself and most importantly, ALWAYS make training fun!

*Photos by Debra Bell, Bell’s Furry Friends Photography

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog ( )

How to choose a dog trainer

Before You Go To The Dog Park – coming soon!


Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at Don also writes about pets at his blog:

©2018, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>