April 23, 2009

Story from Wicked Local: Plymouth

“In a real estate market that has all but bottomed out, Gail Devins, an Easton Realtor, knew she had to get creative if she was going to weather the economic storm.

By March of [2008], the phone at her North Easton realty office went silent. Business was slow and college tuition bills were looming for this mother of three and her husband, Rick. Though she hasn’t closed the doors forever on her family-owned real estate business, she is looking elsewhere for ways to make ends meet.

“The economy is just so bad right now,” Devins said. “We’re hoping that things will get better, but at this point in time, I decided it would be good to bring in a little extra income and have fun while I’m at it.”

In March 2008, Devins launched a niche business called “Shoo, Geese! Border Patrol” with her newly acquired Border collie, Tug.
Along with Tug and his apprentice, Louis, Devins chases geese from areas where they are unwanted. Her first gig was at a nearby golf course, where a flock of Canada geese had made a home. The geese were a messy nuisance to golfers and the course’s owner, Devins said.

Thanks to Tug and his thrice-daily trips to the golf course, the geese were gone by the summer golf season.

“The golf course owner was extremely pleased,” Devins said. And she was, too.

Border collies are hard working herding dogs with high levels of energy and intelligence. Though she had owned dogs all her life, Devins said, she never had much experience training dogs to work. But Tug learned his new job quickly, responding to hand signals and whistles. When Devins spells “geese,” Tug knows it’s time to go to work.

Border collies resemble foxes, which geese recognize as predators, Devins said. But Border collies are herders, not hunters, and they will not attack the geese. They approach the flock and stare down the geese to show dominance. After regular encounters with the dogs, the geese decide to move on in search of a safer home and nesting area.

Devins came to her new business by a series of struggles and coincidence, though she says she is now a happily self-employed business owner.

“It’s just amazing, I love it,” Devins said. “It’s a great time.”

– by Katherine McInerney