The goose management dog that became a therapy dog

To follow up on the picture in a previous post, I am Dorene, former owner of Merlyn. He came from New Orleans and I picked him up in Tennessee. Had I been able to see him before purchasing him, I would have passed on the deal, as he was a young dog trained by the good ol’ boys, shock collar around neck and another one around waist. He went thru Katrina on a chain that could have anchored an ocean liner and subsequently is completely off the charts phobic of loud noises, which in general is a Border Collie thing, anyway.

Doreen Olson with Merlyn - Merz Goodwill)

Dorene Olson with Merlyn – ‘Merz Good will’)

He was a complete waste of $3,000 as he was not trained in herding at all, and ran at the slightest sound—dumpster lids going, cars back firing, especially thunder.

His story started when I was in need of another Canada goose management dog.  They work the geese by herding them, using “eye stalk” rather than barking or nipping at their subject matters, be they cattle, sheep or ducks. Usually they are trained first on sheep to get the idea of herding, then they can transfer that training to the wild Canada geese, who fly away when “harassed” by a dog and a human, both of which they consider to be predators.

Canada geese, despite the opinions of many who fear and hate them, are very, very intelligent and learn to differentiate between a dog loose in the park (naughty humans!) and a true “predator”.  They recognize a dog wearing a yellow or red life jacket (that is what my dogs wear) and react according.

My Canada goose management dog, Quill, is trained not only to herd them off the land, but when the geese fly into water bodies, she wears a life jacket and does the same herding in the water, much to the chagrin of the geese, who then exit stage left and finally fly away. Just today, we worked a pair of geese trying to think about moving into and settling down to make a nest in Bellefontaine Cemetery, who prefer that the geese nest elsewhere, as ganders can be very protective of the hen sitting the nest and give humans a good beating.

Dear Merlyn (I used to call him “Merz, Good will”) now resides with a friend of mine who participates with me in domestic waterfowl rescue, pulling those ducklings now grown up that were impulsive Easter duckings and dumped into city parks when they got too big and to messy- we don’t call them waterFOWL for no good reason.

Merlyn works as a therapy dog, assisting people in assistive care facilities and has even been a sought-after presence to aid in the assistance of people in the end stages of life. For a dog that took months to figure out how to look up and make eye contact with a human, he has come long way, baby. Go, Merz Goodwill, my heart will always be with that little lost soul who has finally found a home.

Dorene Olson
TARA Training and Behavior,  LLC
WyndSong Border Collies and Canada Goose Management

One thought on “The goose management dog that became a therapy dog

  1. Would love to watch the dogs work the geese in Brentwood Forest. Good herding dogs are incredible. Our geese need to learn to cross the road a little faster.