Nothing spooks a Canada goose like Louie the border collie and his business partner, Tug. The canine agents, dressed in orange life jackets, send their targets honking from ponds on golf courses, cemeteries and college campuses.
At Stonehill College on Wednesday, Louie paddled after a floating flock, while Tug barked and splashed at the edge of the pond.
“They’ll never hurt the geese, but the geese don’t know that, which is great,” said Gail Freitas Devins, founder of Shoo, Geese! Border Patrol and a lifelong Easton resident.
Devins said border collies are the best way to banish Canada geese, known for littering walkways, lawns and golf courses with their droppings.
Coyote decoys, gunshots and noisemakers don’t scare geese sufficiently in the long run, Devins said.
But fear of border collies comes naturally to geese.
“The border collie resembles an arctic fox, and that’s a natural predator for the Canada goose,” said Devins, who started her goose-chasing business about two years ago.
Devins brings her dogs to the Stonehill College pond twice a day. After just a few weeks, she has thinned the goose population from 60 to 20, she said.
Louie and Tug also chase geese off private lawns, corporate headquarters, and off the fairways at Easton Country Club, where the geese have been known to spoil rounds of golf.
“If we didn’t do anything, we could have as many as 100- 120 geese by the end of the season,” said Mark Lombardi, manager of the club. “Gail, with her dogs, has helped to keep the geese uncomfortable here.”
Apart from the occasional goose hissing at a golfer, Lombardi said it’s not the animals he minds.
“It’s what they leave behind that is really the big problem,” said Lombardi.
By some estimates, an adult goose can deposit two or three pounds of droppings per day.
But Louie and Tug keep the fairways and pathways clean just by doing what they love.
Border collies are natural herders, Devins said. So while they may appear to be after a snack, her dogs are actually attempting to herd the geese.
They do so using a pincer-like maneuver: Louie paddles after the gaggle, while Tug and runs around the edge of the pond, heading them off.
After weeks or even months, the geese surrender and move onto dog-less areas.
The business is a far cry from Devins’ work with her family’s Easton-based realty business, Freitas Associates. But the mother of three said she enjoys working outside.
“It gets to the point now, the geese recognize my car,” said Devins.