Know what you are getting into when you adopt a dog

Bill Packard: Bear is a work in progress

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 8:45pm

Everyone loves dogs.  Well. Not everyone, but those that don’t like dogs don’t count.  Dogs that have had difficult histories tug even stronger at the heart strings.  That would be the case with Honey Bear. His name has been shortened to just Bear since he’s been living here at Kathy’s Frogwater Farm, and this story is true.  Every decision we make is emotional.  Even when we tell ourselves that we’re making a sound decision based on facts, in the end, it’s emotional.  So it is with dogs.  I’m sharing the Bear’s story in the hope that people will understand the commitment involved with adopting a rescue dog and the challenges that are involved.

Bear lived on the streets of Norfolk, Virginia,  at the beginning of his life. At some point, he was captured and taken to a shelter.  Captured is the word because he didn’t get rescued until later on.

Son Jesse was looking for an addition to his young family. They fell in love with Honey Bear and adopted him. The first indication that there might be a challenge was when he could not stand to be confined. A closed door was not to be allowed. Being left home alone, even for a short time did not have a good outcome. 

Jesse’s situation was about to change and the Navy was going to move him to Maine, so we agreed that he could bring the Bear here until things got settled down. Just a couple months of temporary foster care. Reality sunk in. Bear had issues that were not obvious at adoption but those issues were not going to go away and a family setting with a small child was not going to work. Bear was now ours.

There are several messages in this piece and this is the first one. There was no way that Jesse and his family could have expected the challenges with Bear unless they had researched feral dogs. Nobody does that, but they should have. Bear today is a great dog. He’s really smart, very protective and fun. It’s been a lot of work. I mean a lot. And it’s ongoing.

If I were a younger man, I doubt I would have had the patience it takes to work with a dog like this. We worked through the confined anxiety with a dog door and a wireless fence so Bear could go outside whenever he wanted, but would still be safe. 

The breezeway is his, but the house is on one end the garage is on the other. We have the popular lever handles on our doors and it didn’t take Bear long to figure out that he could open these doors with his paw. He mastered the door that opened in to the point that when he thought I wasn’t looking, he would open it just like it was an everyday thing.  Constant encouragement and correction eliminated that problem.

There is the touch. Anything other than a hand (and it took a long time before he would accept a hand) is not acceptable. 

He’s never had a bath. Water, a paper towel, the dog wipes, all of them invoke a very negative response. I mean a very negative response.

The last trip to the vet did not turn out well. As caring and patient as the folks at All Creatures are, we needed to muzzle bear for a shot for Lime disease. It was not a pleasant experience.  As I said, they’re great so I had some pills to calm him down on the next visit. 

Here’s my deal on this: I know the dog needs certain things, but I’m not going to put him through all sorts of stress if I don’t have to. It’s not about my convenience; it’s about the dog’s feelings.  The appointment was made for some routine checks and a shot.  The pills were given at the prescribed time. The trip to the vet was not as relaxed as I would have hoped.  Everything was fine in the waiting room and the exam room, until they tried to interact with the Bear.  It was all over.  The needed muzzle was not going to be put on by me or anyone else. The visit was a bust.

We have an alternate plan, but dogs need certain things, like vaccinations, exams, etc. and those things have to happen.  Bear is a work in progress.

So here we are. As with all stories of value, there’s a moral.  Know what you are getting into when you adopt a dog.  If Jesse had done his homework, I would not have this awesome dog that’s now my companion.  I thank him for that.  Fortunately, there was a Plan B. Others may not be ready, willing or able to make the commitment it takes and hopefully reading this will not discourage them, but rather, prepare them. The end result (at least in my case) is well worth the work.

Bill Packard lives in Union

Bill PackardBill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant.

More Bill Packard

Don’t take Mainers for buffoons

Sitting in traffic, eating ice cream, monitoring progress

Live like a pig in your world, but don't treat our world like that

Being a famous fake burper not so much a resume builder

• Dishwashers, and making the best of poor judgment

• 14 items
Hold my beer and watch this!

Trying to get organized, I become disorganized
How not to break into a safe
Blue Colony
Summer in Maine
Parker loved a good time
The Moving Wall and the Vietnam era
Done? No. Just getting started again
The finer points of occupying a public space (Tip: Bring snacks)
The Zumwalt: Built in Maine
Mainers and their most happily miserable Thanksgiving
Sam, I'll miss your smile
Troubles with the fridge
Where the weirdness comes in
Boycotting the Oreo and why I won't
Parenting can be tough, it you work at it too much
Choose wisely, graduates
Beware the June 30 leap second
Don't get too stuck on yourself, or what you offer
WRKD's Easter Egg hunt in Camden — back in the day
On being serious
Don't wish them dead. Vote them out of office
Think twice before you sue
An Act to Increase the Effectiveness of the Legislature
Driving trucks in the Blizzard of '78
I am not making this stuff up
Don't buy into the stress of the holidays
Lighten Up

A troubling election season
Laundry time
Midcoast is where we live, charity is what it's all about

Jim Laurita was a doer, not just a talker
Minimum wage and personal responsibility

Pause before criticizing first responders
About the movers and shakers
Tactical Urbanism in Camden
Break the rules now and then

With Rockport Fire Chief Bruce Woodward and the Learning Chair
About Elimination Communication

I didn't intend to offend any mothers. Obviously, I did
At Union’s Applewood Farm, a lesson in listening
Let's go to court instead

People having fun is a good thing
Out of the box and into the zone
Making things personal and individual
Letting go of the old clock
A friend of God on Faccebook

It’s a different life out on the road
If your school got a C or a D or, God forbid, an F, get over it

Tell your dad how much he means to you
Event planning, corn boil picnic and buses
Life goes on, but a piece of the community goes away

Talk of weather brings up another aspect of Maine living... suffering
Guilt is a useless emotion
What's with all this greening of Camden?
About reinventing ourselves
Say what?

Need a little help finding the value of x
I guess I feel guilty
Video does not represent Maine lobster industry
Every Saturday should be 'Shop Local Saturday,' whatever that is
I don't get it

SpongeBob, cops and the use of allegedly
The stupid things big business does

Legislature could vote it made a mistake about school union mergers
Just let go
Traveling with the Trekkers
Here's why I like plowing
Bath Iron Works builds best ships in the world
Aboard the USS Zumwalt in Bath

Working for Snapper at Marriners’
Doing better than the bare minimum
Thinking about obituaries
Women are from Venus, but most men are from down the street somewhere