Thank You, Trivia & Gus!

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

< Updated 07FEB21 >

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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 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>