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Nature & You: Not all 'guard dogs' are canines

A gaggle of geese might keep evildoers at bay. [Thinkstock photo]
A gaggle of geese might keep evildoers at bay. [Thinkstock photo]

Back when I was knee high to a grasshopper, I would spend the summers at my grandmother's farm. Granny never locked the doors on her farm house. She had a cyclone fence that surrounded her lawn, but she never bothered to install a padlock on the fence gate. 

I still have vivid memories of undoing the latch on the fence gate and then doing an Olympic Games sprint from the gate to Granny's front door. I had to be swift. A killer lurked there on Granny's fenced lawn. It was this giant goose that incessantly attempted to ambush me, so that it might knock me on my keister and then proceed to torture me with very painful bites.

Maybe "killer" is a tad too dramatic of a characterization.

Thinking back on it, I suppose that I was in no real danger of having my young life ended by something as simple as a bird attack.

What I remember most is that the gander functioned as a most-effective deterrent to any potential evildoers that might have had designs on gaining entry to Granny's home.

The use of geese as "guard dogs" was not a situation that was of Granny's design alone; people through the ages have come to rely on these keen-sighted and vigilant waterfowl as agents to keep watch on people who are intent on sneaking into places where they do not really belong. 

I do know that the U.S. military even used geese as "guard dogs" at some of their secure locations in foreign lands. What I have not been able to discern, however, is if the Defense Department still uses this practice. My guess is that they do, but that they are keeping closemouthed about it so they might better thwart incursions.

But, hey! That's just a guess.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›

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