Fun in the winter sun, a man, his dog, and wild geese . . .
A man, or boy playing with his dog is a familiar sight and good to see. You can feel their joy as the dog leaps to the shoulders of the other and you know they both are having fun.
But last week I saw a man, his dog, and two separate flocks of geese, each of 40 or more birds, playing a game and having ‘the time of their lives’. I stopped spellbound at what I was seeing and didn’t move from my window until the game was over.
It began with a man I often see down on the Golf Course, taking a walk with his dog, who, with no golfers on the snow-covered Course, can run free. With no one there but his Master, he runs across the field, then goes back to be reunited for a moment, and then off again. Both man and beast enjoying it all.
The snow-covered field was beautiful and I watched from a window as a flock of geese swooped in, and I didn’t think it odd at the time, but now I realize, and wonder, that the presence of the man and running dog made no difference to the geese. I often see the man and his dog, and also see the geese settling down for a rest, but never at the same time. This time it was different.
The dog started it when he ran, no, he almost danced, with tail flying high, toward the geese, NOT barking or any ‘attack’ mode, but in a ‘let’s play together’ way, and the geese, with no flurry or fear, took to the air, but didn’t go in fear, for I watched and they kept, believe it or not, just out of the dog’s reach, and would actually dip down, toward the playful dog, then up, circle, and the dog followed their lead, and the man just kept casually walking along the path. No yelling, no whistling, no calling, or flapping of arms. Just minding his own business and knowing both his dog and the geese were enjoying each other.
And then, and I repeat myself, but it is hard to believe, but another flock of geese came, settled not too far away from all the activity. And it surprised me to see the dog whirl and prance off toward them. And they, too, did not fly away. It was a game if I ever saw one and man, dog and two good-sized flocks of geese knew the game, and kept all the rules, too. No loud honking or barking. It was just like a bunch of kids playing their own game of TAG.
The man kept his steady calm, pace and ever so often the dog would run back to him, jump up to his shoulders, tail wagging, get petted, and then on his way back to the geese. I swear if those geese could also have swooped to the man for approval, they would have too.
The geese, from both flocks, played their part by swooping to the dog as he danced among them, almost with a ‘Hey, I almost touched you’ manner. If those geese had been in fear they could and would have flown away in an instant. But both flocks, stayed and played with a happy dog. And I think the man was enjoying it, too. I watched them for easily ten to 15 minutes.
It was so apparently a game that I knew there was some sort of communication between those animals (and I include the man). A way of communication that we know not of, and seldom see. The two flocks of geese never mingled with each other, but one playful dog went back and forth between them, and one calm, UN-interfering man, were all enjoying themselves. And each other.
The man continued his calm pace and soon entered into another part of the Course. The geese and dog continued their play, but as the distance grew, with the man further away, I saw him stop, turn, put his hand to his mouth and I think he whistled. because his dog, abruptly stopped his play, turned and giving the geese one good last whirl, he obeyed the signal and joined the man,
Both flocks of geese, watched him go, and I swear flicked their wings in a ‘let’s do this again some time’ manner , and then as the man and dog went their way, the geese settled in their different parts of the field, and so did I.
The game was over. But what a game. for right in my own ‘backyard’, I saw a man, birds, and an animal, and with no fear, play together. People, with all our differences, could take a lesson from them.