COLUMN: Taking lessons from geese | Columns

A pair of geese would make their way to a washtub on top of a pole in our pond each spring. We thought they were the same couple each year, but then again, they all look alike.

For the past three years, the geese have opted out of using our tub to have babies. I suspect it has a lot to do with our 100-pound lab running the acreage barking at birds, squirrels or leaves. To make matters even more perilous for geese looking for a safe haven, the dog has been trained to watch for flying birds and retrieve once they’ve hit the ground.

I spotted a pair of geese at the pond and couldn’t have been more excited they choose our bucket in which to have their babies. I looked out the window at least a dozen times to check on them. What could be more exciting! My younger self would have said, “Nearly everything.”

Duke, the dog, followed me to the window each time to see what I was so consumed with, since we weren’t taking our usual walks. Our daily routine was not going well – for him, anyway. I was intrigued both geese were both in the bucket. Not sure what that meant, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing, since they fly to Canada every winter and then find their way back in the spring.

With both of them in the bucket, I decided to take Duke out for a walk. I wasn’t getting any work done, with his head pressing down on my hands while I was trying to type. Between his slobber and my cookie crumbs, I’m amazed this keyboard still functions. Who knew the day would come a dog would be the boss of me?

Apparently the dad goose was just taking mom some “bedding” material, because he was on the ground by the time we went outside, and the dog and goose engaged into a stare-down. I really didn’t want Duke to chase the goose, as they had just gotten themselves comfy.

The dog was definitely confused, as most of the geese he’s seen are flying or landing on a body of water, not just standing there protecting their mate.

Duke slowly and cautiously made his way to the pond while the dad goose went into the water. They continued to have a stare-down, but at the end, they choose to ignore each other, thank goodness.

The geese are thick, in full force, and I’ve seem them everywhere – at the bank, grocery store, walking down the sidewalks, as though they own the place. I was driving to town on the back streets and noticed a goose standing on the shoulder, looking out to the middle of the street. He looked lost and then I saw his mate, lying in a bloody, bundled mess. My heart ached for this goose, especially when I drove back by two hours later and he/she was still standing there.

Mates for life – I can only hope to be like geese.

Sandy Turner is a mom, grandma, former caretaker and retired journalist living in Missouri.

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