Some of you may know Don Hanson as one of the owners of Green Acres Kennel Shop, or maybe you’ve heard his voice giving pet advice on the “Woof Meow Show” on the radio. You also might be one of many happy dog and cat parents who have benefited from Don’s expertise treating animals with Bach Flower Remedies. What you may not know is Don was a latecomer both to Maine and to the animal business.
Don was born and raised in Wisconsin. After an education in engineering and science, he worked for 17 years in the medical device industry. Don was 17 years old before he had his first dog, Trivia, but a few years later he became inextricably linked to the animal world when he married Paula, a veterinary technician and lifetime animal lover. Soon, Don’s devotion to animals equaled Paula’s, and the two of them decided to pursue a new path together — they would start a kennel.
Their plans for a kennel in Wisconsin hit a roadblock, but that did not deter them. They scoured listings all over the country for a kennel business to buy. Their selection of Maine had something to do with moose. Not long before that time, they had been on a quest to photograph moose in the wild. One summer, Don said, they visited Maine, “where I photographed more moose than you can shake a stick at.” The state of Maine left an indelible impression, so when their national kennel search found the Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, they closed the deal in no time. In 1995, Don and Paula packed up three households. They loaded up three elderly parents, three dogs, all of their possessions and moved their lives to Maine.
In their new venture, Don expected that he would focus on the kennel’s business side and continue work in animal training while Paula handled boarded animal care and customers. One small canine, however, took Don’s life in an unexpected direction.
Don and Paula’s dog Gus, a Cairn terrier, had an array of health problems that traditional veterinary medicine could not resolve without heavy doses of medication. Don had always been skeptical of nontraditional treatments, but to help Gus, he began to consider alternative and holistic therapies.
“Paula dragged me off to a four-day homeopathy seminar, and I was much less skeptical by the end,” he said.
Don’s interest in training animals expanded into an avid fascination with treatments and therapy for animal behavior. Gus’ improvement through nutrition made an impression on Don, but he became particularly intrigued by a specific therapeutic treatment called the Bach Flower Remedies. Don had heard of Rescue Remedy, one premixed combination of Bach Flower Remedies that was on the market, and he recommended it to a friend whose dog was exhibiting destructive signs of separation anxiety. The remedy worked spectacularly, but Rescue Remedy was just the tip of the iceberg. Don began to study the 38 natural remedies discovered by Dr. Edward Bach in England almost a hundred years ago, and has become a local expert in treating behavior problems with the Bach remedies.
The Bach remedies are used in varying combinations to treat individual cases. There are treatments for humans and animals, and Don has studied some of both, but his focus is on dogs and cats.
In December 2003 he became the first Bach Foundation registered animal practitioner, or BFRAP, in the United States, and has continued updating his training ever since. He is an avid believer in continuing education, and is in constant search of innovative ways to teach others — through writing, blogging, radio and lectures.
Don’s kennel is the hub of his work, but he has reached out nationally and internationally to help pets and families.
In a 2006 article for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Don writes: “Bach Flower Essences are not used to treat physical disease, but rather the emotional state of the patient. They can be used to help resolve fear and anxiety, anger, grief and many other emotions.”
Reducing stress, he explains, “has the potential to positively affect our immune system and thus aid in maintaining physical health.”
Don often works in conjunction with veterinarians, animal behaviorists and homeopathic vets in treating his canine patients and their families. He has found enormous satisfaction in helping to improve the wonderful interspecies relationships that so many people treasure.
For Don Hanson, one of the best decisions he ever made was to move to Maine and let his life go to the dogs.
Robin Clifford Wood welcomes feedback and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.