Downeast Dog News
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Reflections on 25 Years as a Pet Care Professional

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA | Oct 01, 2020
Photo by: Debra Bell

October 10th, 2020, will mark my 25th anniversary as a pet care professional. It’s a journey that started on April 6th, 1991, in McFarland, Wisconsin. My wife Paula and I brought home our first puppy as a couple, a Cairn Terrier named Laird Gustav MacMoose, or “Gus” for short. We did not know it at the time, but Gus would become the catalyst that would lead to a new life as fulltime pet care professionals.

Within a couple of weeks of his arrival, we enrolled ourselves and Gus in a puppy kindergarten class. That first night almost destroyed the relationship we had, but we both persevered, and that incident led me to a deep interest in dog training. ( FMI - http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance ).

A few months later, Gus started having reoccurring urinary tract infections (UTIs). Paula’s employer, a veterinarian, was confident they were related to nutrition. This was the beginning of our understanding of the benefit of our learning everything we can about our pet’s nutritional needs and feeding options. We continue to stay current on this topic and happily pass our knowledge on to all who care to learn. ( FMI - http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition ).

In the Fall of 1991, we adopted a 5-year old rescue dog named Shed. Within a few months, we discovered Dr. Patricia McConnell, an author, educator, and dog trainer. We enrolled both Gus and Shed in our first ever reward-based training classes. We all loved those classes, which further increased my interest in dog training. Shortly after that, Gus became violently reactive to thunderstorms and would become aggressive when people tried to leave our home. Dr. McConnell, an Applied Animal Behaviorist, in addition to being a dog trainer, introduced us to the intricacies of canine behavior, further increasing my interest in the dog’s mind.

As a veterinary technician and office manager, my wife, Paula, was already a pet care professional. We started talking about starting a small business and looked at many options. Eventually, we decided to start a pet boarding, retail, and training facility in Wisconsin. After a lengthy search, we found land and offered to purchase contingent on getting the required zoning. When that fell through in the spring of 1994, we decided to look for an existing business we could buy, but first, we vacationed for two weeks in Maine. When we got home, we renewed our search, considering kennels in Michigan, Vermont, Tennessee, and Maine. Maine was an early frontrunner as we had spent two weeks on vacation here in the summer of 1994. We returned to Maine in July of 1995 to see Green Acres Kennel Shop for the first time. We made an offer to purchase in August, and in mid-September, the previous owners accepted. We gave notice to our employers and begin planning how to move three households, three elderly parents, ourselves, and three dogs 1,400+ miles to Maine by October 11th.

The staff at Green Acres Kennel Shop was fantastic in teaching us about our clientele and how Green Acres operated when Paula and I became the new owners. They and our new clients were very welcoming and helped us settle into new jobs, a new community, and a new way of life.

After 25 years, we remain committed to continuing to learn. When traditional veterinary medicine ran out of answers for Gus’s medical issues, we learned about complementary therapies such as homeopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture, and chiropractic. Gus even inspired me to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies traveling to attend classes in the US and the UK. After several trips to East Sussex and Wales, I qualified as the first Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner in the Americas in 2003.

From day one, Paula and I insisted that part of Green Acre’s mission was to be an educational resource to the community. To us, this was and remains every bit as important as providing services and selling products. We provide educational opportunities through seminars, workshops, classes, and more. In 2004, I developed a pet-focused radio show, which I named The Woof Meow Show. The show and podcast continue to be one way we provide accurate, useful, and entertaining information about pets. I try to do the same through this monthly column and in my blog, Words, Woofs & Meows.

The pet care industry, whether we’re talking about boarding, daycare, grooming, training, pet food, veterinary care, breeding, or rescue, has changed dramatically in the past 25 years. In some ways, for the better, yet also in ways that have not been good for people or their pets.

Paula and I are incredibly thankful to all the people and pets that have been part of the Green Acres journey so far. We look forward to earning your support in the future. Our journey is far from over.

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Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. 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). As a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and Code of Ethical Conduct. 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 http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. Don is a member of the PPG Steering Committee and is the Chair of the Shock-Free Coalition https://www.shockfree.org/. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.