Max was feral when we found him. He was skeletal at 37 kilos/81 lbs and was perfectly able and willing to attack anything that looked like food. For months he would not come near me, no matter how non-aggressive I tried to be when I approached him. He would either shy or snarl; neither option was comfortable.
Yeah, he's not a half-ton grizzly bear, but he's certainly able to kill the cats. He won't do that, though, because he recognizes that cats have Sharp Pointy Bits at the end of their paws. He respects the cats, and the cats respect him.
He's also capable of killing *me*. You don't ever live with a hundred-pound animal without having that somewhere in the back of your mind. The reason he doesn't get obnoxious when we're irritated with each other, I think, is that he understands that I respect him and recognize his autonomy. I never give him a command without reason, but at the same time, if he disobeys the command (like "sit/stay"), he knows I'll take a second look at the situation. One hundred percent of the time, so far, I've deferred to his judgement.
Yeah, no. He's not a bear. But I kind of understand what this is like, to rearrange your life a bit so that a critter can have Thanksgivings in your house (although Max doesn't care for turkey; instead, he gets his own plate of pumpkin pie).
He's a good boy. A good boy. And he eats birthday cake just like the grizzly does.