The Barking Lot is a regular weekly feature of This Just In…Originally written by both my lovely wife, Jennifer and me, this blog brings you the latest news about our furry friends including articles, columns, photos and videos. Enjoy!
THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors.
TODAY: Partly to mostly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms this afternoon. High near 80. “B”
SUNDAY: Rain early…then remaining cloudy with showers in the afternoon. Morning high of 57 with temps falling to near 40. Winds WSW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch. Higher wind gusts possible. “D”
Time now for DOGS IN THE NEWS, canines that made headlines the past week.
In North Carolina, tensions rising between landowners and deer hunters with dogs…
NYC Warns of Highly Contagious Virus Spreading in Dogs.
‘Alcoholic’ dog sedated for four weeks as he goes cold turkey.
His company? Hire and manage dogs to hunt geese
In 1998, Robert Young and his dog, Boomer, were visiting a golf course in New Jersey when a man asked Mr. Young for his business card.
Mr. Young, a physician assistant at the time, handed him a card for orthopedic work, but the man was confused. “He just looked at my card and said, ‘Don’t you hunt geese for a living?’ said Mr. Young.
At this point, Mr. Young looked at Boomer. His Border Collie had chased herds of honkers, shedding Canada geese from the course minutes earlier.
And hence his new company Geese Chasers – one of many goose hunting companies across the country – was born.
The company, which Mr. Young runs with his wife, Deborah Young, now has a presence in 10 states and hundreds of cities, including New York, where a dog can sometimes be spotted cleaning up Central Park. The following interview is an edited and condensed version of a conversation with Mr. Young.
According International Birds, the number of geese has increased by 1,500% in North America over the past 40 years. For what?
Geese migrate south from the Arctic Circle and Canada in winter. Their main source of food is grass, which is covered with snow. They must go south to find areas of barren land that have no snow. The winters haven’t been harsh in much of the United States, so they’ve kind of dug in and called it home now, and they’re really moving from power point to power point locally. The federal government estimates that the Canada goose population in this country is increasing by 15-20% each year.
What type of flight pattern do they follow?
The place where we sit is called the Atlantic Flyway. But you also have the Mississippi Flyway, and I think they call the northwest one the Rocky Mountain Flyway, which is probably less crowded I would say. But we’re getting calls from Scottsdale, San Francisco, Palm Springs, places you never thought you’d have a sissy problem. They are everywhere. They acclimatize very well. If they have a good food source, lots of fresh cut grass and lots of water features, which a lot of these homeowners associations and commercial properties build – you know, the ponds and everything for the runoff and also for the aesthetic – they have the perfect habitat.
Is it just the droppings left by geese that your customers don’t like?
Well, they tear up landscapes. When they eat grass, they pull it out by the roots, and what they leave in their droppings is very acidic, and that changes the pH of the soil. Thus, only hardened weeds grow on the spot. They do a lot of damage quickly.
Describe the ideal habitat for geese. What are the components?
A large open field with freshly cut grass that gives them very good sight lines, so they can see a predator coming. There are usually one or two lookouts sticking their necks out and looking for predators while the others feed. They are really smart animals. They are also looking for a nice body of water in which they can fly, swim or bring their babies.
So that means parks and gated communities. What else?
Oh, damn it – you name it. In New York and Jersey City, we have lots of properties along the Hudson where Sully’s plane crashed. Bird strikes in general occur several times a year and around the world for both commercial and private aircraft. Not only geese but anything with feathers flies.
But the geese must return immediately.
We did a study many years ago where we followed them for 12 weeks. We found that after two chases, they stayed away for two weeks. If you chase them four times, they stay away for four weeks.
Why are dogs, especially border collies, the best for the job?
Grounds for Sculpture welcomed us during the summer. They were happy to have us come because of our humane ways. Sometimes the federal government comes to gas the geese. You can engage the USDA. You just have to fill out an application and get a quote, and one day they will come and round them up and put them in gas chambers and suck the oxygen out of their lungs. It is troubling. If you go to PETA, you will see that they endorse our methods. Highly trained border collies are the best option.
As for the type of dog, I did a lot of trial and error at first. Tried Australian Shepherds, Labs. The geese were not afraid of them. Border collies mimic arctic foxes, which are their only natural predators. An arctic fox looks exactly like a border collie.
It’s something you discovered by accident.
I learned the hard way. I’m really allergic to dogs, but the minute my son opened his eyes, let me tell you, he wanted one. Border collies need daily stimulation. They are working dogs. We had a lake behind our house, and Boomer hunted everything with a feather, ducks, cormorants, anything that moved. When he finally chased away the last duck, he was almost passed out and he was ready to start all over again. I’d say, “You’re crazy, dog.”
Is that when you started taking him to the golf course?
The country club owner once told me that he had read an article about a golf course in the Midwest that used border collies to effectively get rid of geese. He said there were 500 birds on his course and so much poo they couldn’t play golf. Then he asked, “Do you think that dog will chase them away?” On day one, Boomer took off like a bang. He knew exactly where to go. Next thing you know, the whole sky is full of geese. Then he jumped into a gigantic pond like Superdog.
And that’s where you had your first paid concert, with the golfer who asked you for your business card?
Mike. To this day, he is a client. I told him I would never raise the price on him. We still keep his property cleared for $99 a week. Now it would cost him three or four times as much.
It must be expensive to clean up a place like Central Park. Do you need a pack of Border collies to eliminate geese from such a large area?
No no. It’s only one or two dogs. They are independent working dogs. I tell my franchisors that when you put two really good working dogs together, they’re so smart that a dog might think, “Why should I go out when he can do the job without me?” For Central Park, they might arrive at 7:00 a.m., and I think they’re only staying a few hours, and they’re out at 9 or 9:30.
How do people react when you tell them you hunt geese for a living?
My parents thought I was going to be put in a mental institution. But people are really happy when they see the dogs and understand that we give them a good life, where they can run around every day. People saw me sitting in the car with the dog and said, “You have the best job in the world! You work every day with your best friend.”
OPINION: Why we should aim for a world with fewer but happier pets.
COMMENTARY: We Spoil our Dogs and Train Our Children.
Do dogs wag their tails when happy? Not always.
100+ dogs will honor Boston Marathon duo Spencer and Penny at ‘Golden Strong’ fundraiser.
Pocket-sized Chihuahua certified as world’s shortest dog.
VIDEO & ARTICLE: Service dog jumps into action to grab medicine for owner who was having medical episode.
Pet arrives home, dog-tired, after Alaskan sea-ice odyssey.
Biden gets snubbed by Irish President Michael Higgins’ dog.
Meet Bayley, the mini sheepadoodle who looks like a real-life version of Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy.
Here are 13 waterfront patios in Milwaukee to enjoy when the weather allows, and several are dog friendly
And finally, for many years I’ve been the butt of some jokes since we don’t have a dog in our home. One of Jennifer’s friends referred to me as her “dog-hating husband.” Of course she was kidding. I think. No need to explain why we have been and are still dog-less. I will say that I’m nowhere near as bad as Joe Queenan, columnist for the Wall Street Journal in a piece he did this week…
The Many Reasons Not to Own a Dog
For as long as I can remember, friends and family members have been encouraging me to get a dog. Their motives are deeply suspect. I think they want me to get a dog mostly so that I will have mastered the arcane skills needed to walk their dogs while they are on vacation. But I was not put on this planet to walk dogs, and this is a situation that is never going to change.
“I visit my son twice a year, and he has two very nice dogs. The couple of weeks I spend frolicking with them is more than enough to satisfy my annual cynophilic needs,” I explain. “I don’t need a dog 52 weeks out of the year. Four weeks is plenty.”
“But you seem to like dogs!” they insist. “You seem to enjoy throwing balls into bottomless ravines and swirling riptides and watching them fetch them!”
“I like giraffes and snow leopards too,” I reply. “But I don’t want them in my house either.” Dog lovers are nothing if not persistent. They view my lack of passion for dogs as a sign of moral callousness. I am willing to admit that not being interested in dogs probably is a character defect. But it is a character defect I am glad to have.
“Dog lovers retain a jaw-dropping ability to ignore unimpeachable evidence that dogs do not, in fact, improve your quality of life. ”
“Oh, come on, dogs cheer you up and make even the gloomiest day seem bright!” they bellow in one last, sadly misguided effort to change my way of thinking. “I just got my rotator cuff repaired,” I remind them. “If a dog on a leash should go lunging after a squirrel or the Door Dash driver it’s going to wreck my shoulder for good.”
My logic is clearly irrefutable. Yet dog lovers retain a jaw-dropping ability to ignore unimpeachable evidence that dogs do not, in fact, improve your quality of life. Exhibit A: One of my friends recently tripped over her new puppy and ended up in the hospital with a badly gashed leg. Exhibit B: I twisted my knee when I made a lunge for that very same puppy as it was scurrying out the back door, presumably making a break for the Canadian border.
Also: Dogs are expensive. They constantly need tendon surgery or exotic medications or reprogramming for personality orders such as lunging at strangers or snacking on $1,795 Christian Louboutins (or any other shoes—they don’t appear to have any fashion sense whatsoever). They tear up flower beds and gnaw on furniture and growl at toddlers and howl for hours on end while their owners are attending a five-hour performance of Wagner’s “Lohengrin.”
Dog lovers refuse to recognize that a large segment of the non-dog loving population would prefer that they kept pythons or California condors as pets. Dogs cause bad blood with neighbors, make life miserable for mail carriers and don’t seem to understand that most of us actually like robin redbreasts and do not want to see them torn to pieces in the sort of recreational avicide dogs specialize in.
Thankfully, in an unexpected development, I recently stumbled upon the perfect excuse to never get a dog. Trailblazing computer scientists at Newcastle University and the University of London have determined that popular pet-related apps may be exposing dog lovers to dire financial risk. It turns out that the apps used to keep track of a dog’s whereabouts or monitor its heartbeat can easily be hacked, exposing pertinent login information and even revealing the pet owner’s current whereabouts. As a result I might go out for a walk and come back to find my house ransacked or my bank accounts plundered or my priceless Martin D-28 guitar heisted by app-hacking thieves.
In short, the danger inherent in operating any sort of digital doggy device provides me with the ultimate reason to never get a dog of my own or to take charge of anyone else’s dog. The same goes for cats, ferrets and geckos.
A parakeet, I might consider.
—Joe Queenan, the Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2023
That’s it for this week. Thanks for stopping by.
We’d really appreciate it if you forward this on to other dog lovers you know. Let them have some fun!
See ya, BARK, next Saturday!
One thought on “The Barking Lot – America’s Finest Dog Blog (04/15/2023)”
Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs (04/17/2023) | This Just In… From Franklin, WI