When Wild Geese and Dogs Meet

Susan is an ethusiastic photographer, nature lover, and pug parent.

My Pugs vs. the Wild Canadian Geese

While I was going out to photograph a flock of Canadian geese that just came in to the area, Tess waited patiently in the truck with her sister Gracie. I had found a good spot to park along the pond that would give me a great view to photograph from and also allow the pugs to watch from the truck window. After 10 minutes of waiting for me to finish taking photographs, Tess poked her head up over the door panel and gave out a small woof letting me know it was a good time for her to get out and go do her business.

I made sure that the area was safe from other vehicles turning into the parking area, harnessed Tess and Gracie, and proceeded to help them get down out of the truck. In less than 10 seconds, the quiet pond I had been photographing became boisterous with honking. I looked over my shoulder to see 15 Canadian Geese swimming as fast as they could towards Tess & Gracie. Neither dog had barked at the geese or attempted to take chase after the geese, but the geese were bent on getting to them.

Tess and Gracie ran to the backside of the parking lot, away from the waters edge, not even noticing the noise or the geese. They were determined on doing their business and following a scent that fascinated them. The geese began to quiet down and move away from the shore when they saw the dogs go farther away from the water. I started to wonder why we were the recipients of all that commotion from the gaggle of geese. The dogs did not approach in an aggressive manner nor did they leap from the truck barking their fool heads off. The geese were fine while I was on the shore taking photographs, so what was it? Then it struck me, it was spring.

Geese Tend to Be Naturally Overprotective

In spring, we may be beginning to shake our bones awake and start to adventure out, but these birds are finishing their migration. They are searching streams, lakes and ponds for a nice little island of mud and reeds on which to build the nest. Geese prefer to graze, so they swim the stream, lake or pond making sure that there is enough local food to feed the family. The gander (male goose) will protect his goose (female goose) from any harm, protect and defend their new home for the upcoming season.

I have heard tales from bird hunters about geese trying to drown dogs. Come to find out, it is true. Canadian geese have an innate fear of foxes and wolves. They associate domestic dogs with their wild counterparts. There have been reports of Canadian geese and swans actually succeeding in drowning dogs. These types of birds will achieve this goal by luring the dog to deeper water then stand on the dogs’ back. Some will also hold out their wing to keep the dogs’ head down in the water.

Some people have reported seeing a gaggle of geese surround a dog; begin pecking at it while others try to get the dog under water so they can jump on top of the dog. Usually, the pets’ owner can rush into the water to scare off the geese, but this is not always the case with swans. A cob (male swan) will protect his family and nest very aggressively. Cobs do not care if the potential threat is a human, dog, cat, duck or even a goose.

Diffusing the Situation

Geese are quite skillful at reading body language. This is due to their superb eyesight. As the goose approaches where you and your dogs are, make firm eye contact. This will demonstrate that you are not an attainable target. This can deter the goose from further persuing it's attack.

Make sure to keep your shoulders square with the goose. Have the dogs right by your side and slowly back away from the goose. You want to remove you and your dogs from the nesting area. As soon as there is enough distance between the goose and you, the attack should stop due to the goose no longer seeing you as a direct threat.

Do not show that you may be submissive in your body language. Refrain yourself from hitting or striking out at the bird. Doing so can get the attention form other geese including nesting females. The more geese that join in the defending of the area, the more trouble you will have in diffusing an already tense situation.

If, by chance, the goose tries to take flight in close proximity, cover you face and duck, but do not completely block your vision. Remember to move perpendicular to the birds path in order to avoid the wings and feet.

Dog Safety Tips

While you are out enjoying a hike with your dog or dogs , remember to keep them leashed near lakes and ponds especially during the nesting season.Most hiking trails that do allow dogs, also require dogs to be leashed at all times for everyone’s safety.

If you see that geese or swans are actively using the pond or lake, be aware of their activity. Chances are you will not encounter an incident with a goose or swan, but as the photo shows, Tess was still curious while waiting for her turn to enter the truck and the geese began their return to defend their nesting area.

© 2013 Susan McLeish

susancorgi on May 31, 2015:

Good information. However, the name of this species is Canada Geese, not Canadian Geese.

Joanne on April 15, 2014:

I enjoyed your aarticle. I live in an apartment complex where neighbors feed wild geese then I and my dogs are attacked while we walk. Who do we talk to about this and can we report them?

FaeSis on April 07, 2013:

Good to know. I have heard swans are very aggressive, but I had not heard they attacked dogs.

Susan McLeish (author) from Rindge, NH on April 07, 2013:

Thank you sgbrown. I have done gardening, actually weeding, for a few people that have a couple of geese in their pond. The geese tend to rest for a week or two and move one to a bigger pond or stream, but they are great to watch coming in for a landing.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on April 07, 2013:

Cute story! We have a couple of geese on our front pond lately. My yellow lab, Sadie, loves to chase them back into the water. It's like a game with her. I'm sure the geese don't want to confront her as she is a fairly big dog and there are only two of them. I enjoyed your hub, voting up and interesting. :)

Susan McLeish (author) from Rindge, NH on April 06, 2013:

Sounds like you have a busy neighborhood moonlake. My understanding is the fear comes from nest robbery and foxes or wolves preying on the young. Glad you could stop by!

moonlake from America on April 06, 2013:

I enjoyed your hub and your photos. I didn't know Canadian geese have a fear of foxes and wolves. We have all three in the field across from our house. The wolf comes into our yard and so do fox. The geese come close but have never seen them in the yard. Voted up and shared.

Goose Care

Several different factors go into caring for domestic geese. The primary concern, and something that you should arrange before geese ever arrive on your farm, is where they will live. Not only do you need to give your geese somewhere to graze on grass, but they also need a safe place to sleep at night.

The next consideration is food. Grass is great, but is not nearly nutritious enough over the winter. Instead you should supplement their diet with pelleted feed or wheat. Finally, a lone goose is a sad goose. You need at least two geese in a flock to have happy birds.

What Do Canadian Geese Eat?

A Canadian goose is the wild species. They are herbivores but sometimes they go for insects and fish too. Their essential diet includes all the plant-based food like green vegetations plus grains. Their food varies seasonally. Want to know What Do Canadian Geese Eat? Well, here is the list of food:

  • Leaves.
  • Grass.
  • Seeds.
  • Grains.
  • Berries.
  • Cranberry.
  • Crowberry.
  • Cabbage leaves.
  • Eelgrass.

What To Feed Canadian Geese?

The Canadian Geese is one of the beautiful waterfowl for sure. They are the herbivores, so the Canadian geese necessary feed is grass. They can also eat grains and corn. Their feed changes with the season. Thus in winters, they only eat grains and cracked corn.

Irish Myths and Legends Part 2: Cúchulainn

G iven the history of Scotland and Ireland - two sibling nations with fierce and loyal ties to each other but also marred (and often scarred) by bloody disagreement, rivalry and the power politics of these islands - it will be no surprise to learn that many of the stories, heroes and magical beings of one nation can often be found having adventures in the other. The adventures of great Irish hero Cúchulainn are a good example of this to and froing between Ireland and Scotland.

The story of Cúchulainn’s boyhood is well known. When young his name was known as Setanta and as a stubborn child he desperately wanted to become one of the Red Branch Knights who served his uncle mac Nessa, the king of Ulster. Coming across the apprentice knights playing a hurling match, he ran on the field and defeated them all. Not surprisingly Mac Nessa let him become an apprentice. He also invited his young nephew to join him at a feast being given in his honour by Culain.

Setanta arrived late only to be attacked by Culain’s savage guard dog. Setanta smacked his sliotar into the beast’s mouth and killed it. Culain was upset at the death of his mighty dog, so Sentanta pledged to act as Culain’s Hound until a new one was found. From then on he became known as Cú Chulainn, the Hound of Culain. But of course having acquired a new name, the young hero now had to gain the skills to match his strength and courage.

(Image: "Cuchulain Slays the Hound of Culain", illustration by Stephen Reid from Eleanor Hull's The Boys' Cuchulain, 1904.)

Eager to learn warcraft, Setanta / Cúchulainn went to study with the greatest swordfighters of all. Which of course, as we all know, are the women warriors of Scotland. The youth made his way to the Isle of Skye and found himself entangled in an adventure that would have made a great plot line for one of those soft porn movies from the 1970s. I cannot do the story justice in so short a time but in summary the woman warrior Scáthach agreed to teach the young hero in return for certain amorous favours. Her daughter Uathach got in on the act and then Scathach’s sister also demanded some attention.

Being a young gentleman Cúchulainn manfully attempted to meet all these demands in between learning how to use his sword properly. It all ended badly with the sisters making war against each other and Ireland’s greatest hero quietly pulling up his trousers and returning to Ireland a wiser – if somewhat drained – man. (In his book ‘Celtic Myths and Legends’, Peter Berresford Ellis tells the story in more detail). All of which may explain both the lad’s problematic relationship with older women, and also Queen Medb’s foolish contempt for him. Some may regard the lesser known adventures of Cúchulainn as frivolous and lacking proper gravity, but I think they make the man more real, and his death all the more poignant.

Oliver Sheppard’s statue of ‘The Dying Cúchulainn’, with its echoes of the passion of Christ, is regarded by many as the perfect elegy in bronze to those who died for Ireland in 1916. Though Sheppard was an Irish nationalist, the statue was actually made in 1911, long before the Easter Rebellion. For me, the power of the figure derives as much the later association with the rising as it does from the skill of the artist. Without the 1916 connection the work does not strike me as particularly outstanding, being just one more over the top dying male nude figure that Europeans of a certain epoch liked to churn out.

The best that can be said for ‘The Dying Cúchulainn’ is that it is better than Sheppard’s other famous work The Pikeman, a statue in the middle of Wexford Town that commemorates the 1798 rebellion. This statue is of a giant muscle bound youth standing on a plinth staring heroically over the town. It is a work utterly divorced from the reality of the rebellion – the fear, desperation, hope and acts of incredible courage and folly carried about by men and women who were most certainly not giant muscle bound figures. To see how a commemoration to rebellion should look go to Athy and walk around and through the 1798 memorial, with its portraits of men and women’s faces carved into the solid stone. Heroism does not need or deserve images of musclebound youths. That’s all very enjoyable in a Marvel comic, but as a reflection on history it is foolish if not downright insulting.

But I see that, like Oisín of old, I’ve wandered a little of course. However, I am a storyteller – wandering is pretty much obligatory for me. What I am trying to point out is that the stories of Ireland are never quite as simple as they seem and many wind and wander their way over to Scotland. Apart from versions turning up in the two different countries, the telling of these stories change from teller to teller and from era to era. Even Cúchulainn the most iconic of Irish heroes has a life beyond the borders of Ireland, and certainly beyond the limited borders of Celtic Revival enthusiast. In fact it could be argued that the transformation of Cúchulainn and the rebels of 1789 and 1916 into icons diminish the stories, struggles and lives of the men, women and children of Ireland.

Stay tuned for the Rab’s next blog: The City Beneath the Waves


Soul Dog

It is enough to stand here. In my forest cathedral. Breathing in this air, feeling the frigid wind whip across my face, hearing the sound of the branches scrapping against each other. The crunch of the snow under my foot.

It is enough to be here. In this moment. Breathing in. Breathing out.

This moment is everything. This moment is nothing. This moment is all I have. Here with Oliver and Keller. While they enjoy every second they exist here in this forest cathedral, smelling all the smells. Running. Leaping. Showing me the way in this moment.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
- Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

Soul Dog

For adoption! Noelle has been sitting at the shelter for too long now! Noelle is a year and a half old Bull Terrier. She does have some issues but all are being worked on and trying to make her the best dog she can be!

A note from Amie, who worked with Noelle yesterday! Today we worked on her reactiveness towards other dogs. We stood in the center of a circle of 5 other dogs. She gave me 90% of her attention.

This girl has made huge leaps and bounds. She needs to be in a home without any other animals. She’s super sweet girl, loves people and loves to train. She loves cuddling too.

Another trainer also worked with Noelle on beginning agility work. She would make an amazing agility dog and was game for anything! She learns quick and loves to be active!!

If you think Noelle would make a good fit for your home contact the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter (TCRAS) at 719-686-7707.

Soul Dog

Things Dog Handlers Say

Soul Dog

Rescue does not mean damaged. It means they have been let down by humans.

This weekend I spent time at our local shelter, Teller County Regional Animal Shelter, training Logan and Spitfire. Both Logan and Spitfire have some behavioral issues that need some work, that prevent them from easily finding loving furever homes.

Logan is from Texas and we do not know any of his history, except clearly he was let down by humans. He has been reactive to other dogs and he is very sensitive to hands close to his face or his collar. But he is SUCH a smart and wonderful dog! Once he has a little bit of trust, he works so hard to do what you ask and understand what you ask! He’s a fun playmate and loves training. During training he was able to do a snuffle mat next to another somewhat reactive pup and he did amazing. Both dogs did amazing! Logan also loved playing fetch and I super enjoyed our time playing in the play yard. He was a joy to train.

Spitfire has a history of being reactive to other animals but super wonderful to humans! So my wonderful Labrador Cinna (former service dog) came to assist me to be the dog evaluator! Spitfire did great! We figured out she was more timid than aggressive. And she liked to test the other dog for their reactivity. Overall she was wonderful and seems to need confidence around other dogs but would do okay with a calm dog partner! To humans she is simply a joy.

"Train the dog in front of you."
- Denise Fenzi

I trained the dogs in front of me. In the moment. Working the problem as it was presented and helped the dogs become more comfortable with each passing second. And I was rewarded so greatly by both dogs with their love, trust and growing rapport with me.

This so the type of work that feeds my soul.

Logan and Spitfire are both up for adoption and would currently need experienced dog family homes willing to continue their training, and love love love with lots of patience as they continue to grow and build their confidence and trust with humans. They both deserve so much love.

Watch the video: Joan Armatrading-Flight of the Wild Geese (July 2021).