||Three years old|
||North Carolina, USA|
is Dirty Bird (DB), a Canadian goose, who lives in our house. I
caught him napping with my wife one day. He can't fly because of an
old injury but sure is a Huggy Honker! DB is special foremost because
he is a Canada Goose that genuinely loves being hugged, and I mean
hugged for hours on end. My wife tried to find out his limit one day
and sat for three hours with no sign of him fidgeting. Her bottom wore
out before he did. He responds to affection by giving little "goosey
kisses." These are very light, tender pecks with his bill on a face or
an arm. If you've ever experienced what a goose is capable of
delivering, you'll know that is extraordinary.
Every night my wife holds him in bed and watches TV (He likes the fast
car shows). If he has to go, he gets up, backs to the edge of a towel
that's under him leading into a bucket, and lets go. We've never seen
anything like it and probably never will again.
I don't own The Bird. The Bird owns me. He was hauled up on my lawn as
a result of a dog attack. Out of 12 hatchlings, two survived. Both
seemed to be doing well until two weeks out. At midnight Dirty Bird
started screaming. I went in to find out what was wrong. I put the two
goslings in my lap and covered them partially with a towel, but then I
realized one was dying, of what I don't know. The dying gosling had
seemed fine that day. DB would not stop crying. I spent a WHOLE night
first lying on my stomach with my left arm in an aquarium and when I
lost feeling rolling over on my back placing my upturned right hand
into the aquarium. This bird was relatively wild at the time and
didn't trust. Somewhere between 6 and 7 AM the next morning this
gosling just stepped up into my right hand and sat down, and I very
gently closed my hand around it. My home-schooled children came into
the bedroom at 7:00 AM and asked if they were going to have
standardized testing that day. Lying on my back with my hand wrapped
around a gosling in an aquarium, I said, "No, guys, you have today
As DB grew he developed scoliosis, probably from the force of the dog
bite. Goslings have very fragile bones. Because of this he can only
fly short distances and can only float in very shallow water without
capsizing. But he loves being hugged. We started off with him in my
lap as I worked at a computer. Then he started climbing up onto my
chest and under my chin as I sat upright. I thought that this was just
a "baby thing" and would subside, but it's gotten worse. Finally, one
day when he was full grown, he suddenly began leaning into me and
flapping one wing. When a full grown goose begins flapping in your
face, it's an experience. I didn't know what he wanted, so I let him
go and reposition himself the way he wanted. He wants me in a
semi-reclining position with him wedged tightly against my face and
his beak resting on the bridge of my nose.
He was hatched in late April 3 years ago and had all my attention
until school started. I became busy and didn't hold him for a week. He
simply stopped eating. I thought I'd need to give him to someone more
experienced to save his life. The night before I called wildlife, I
sat down and hugged him up. After an hour or so, I put him in his cage
and he scarfed up everything in sight! We've reached a compromise now.
He expects to be hugged between 7 & 9 PM. If I'm late, he becomes
agitated. The only territory he defends is me. Don't try to touch me
when I'm holding him! He lives in a large dog carrier with the top off
in my study. I picked that spot, because I do a lot of work on a
computer. He can get out, but he doesn't try unless a vacuum is used
nearby. He has a large cage outside and also gets walked at least once
a day. I'm afraid of a dog attack; that's why the precautions. He
rides to and from the front door in a bird chariot. That's a large
wash tub filled with hay. He likes cracked corn and grasses as well as
Romaine lettuce when he's molting.
Living with a goose in the house is a dusty business. I use hay for
bedding. But I love him. I'm certain he's against all ordinances,
however, I've since become a wildlife rehabber and am called to pick
up and raise injured and orphaned geese. I've raised (with DB's and my
children's help) and returned to the wild three so far.
I wouldn't want people to get the idea that a Canada goose would make
a great pet. I love DB dearly, but no pet-sitter can handle him. He
will not allow anyone to touch him except my daughters and myself. I'm
the only one he snuggles with. I have been away from this goose two
nights in three years, because the only way others can handle him is
by leaving him in his cage. I have a couple of hotels who know me and
allow me to bring him. They like the attention it draws when people
see a Canada goose being sprayed with water or being carried in a
washtub; otherwise, I'm grounded.
A special set of circumstances brought DB and I together, opening my
eyes to something I hadn't even thought about i.e. the Canada Goose.
The healthy goslings I've raised since, I have not attempted to make
into "hugger geese", although the nature of these birds and their
capacity to accept affection from selected people would have made it
very easy to do. Even if they hadn't been hugged, they knew my
daughters and I after they were released into the wild, and we were
the only ones who could touch them.
Some people consider Canadian Geese as pests and want to have them
culled. Because of their very affectionate nature, they mate for life
(which beats human records). Killing breaks up those ties.
Geesepeace and the
Coalition for the Prevention of the Destruction of the Canada Goose
are organizations that will nonviolently help with getting rid of some
Canada goose if you have a problem with them.
Find out how your pet
could be Pet of the Day.