Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Of Geese and Dogs

Not to sound redundant, but,  "What a difference a day makes."
All those slabs of ice that were starting to show signs of breaking up only a few days ago, once again have frozen over, as well as the Christmas snow that had finally melted was quickly replaced yesterday.
The geese and ducks have once again been forced to the small refuge of open water at Harlem Meer, including Brad and Angelina.   There is the now very familiar sight of the birds swimming continuously, almost frantically on the small pool, bobbing up and down to prevent it from freezing over in temperatures that this morning, plunged to the mid teens.
Its been a bitter winter.  
So hungry were all the geese and mallards yesterday, that even Angelina ate directly from my hand (something she has never done before, unlike Brad).  But, she didn't get a whole lot, because a number of the geese were competing and eating from my hands, as well.
What food I brought yesterday was gone in a matter of minutes. 
And this was in point of the fact, that just before I arrived several flocks of geese had taken off, presumably for the Reservoir or the Pond, as there were simply too many birds competing for too little at Harlem Meer.
Unlike the weekend, there were not a whole lot of people at Harlem Meer yesterday.  A woman with a small child in a stroller seemed to enjoy watching the geese and ducks for a while, but other than her and a few other stragglers, the park was virtually empty.
Meanwhile, new snow covered the winter grasses compelling the birds to dig for whatever they could find.  99% of the lake is once again, frozen over in ice and snow.
But, the picture was not all bleary and desolate.
In the many months that I've been writing about the ducks and geese in the parks, one might think it is only me who is so fascinated by them.
But, that is not the case.
One of my two dogs, Tina seems to particularly love watching the geese and ducks and is in fact, often reluctant to be pulled away from them to go home.  She seems especially enthralled with the geese and could literally spend hours watching them!
So visually "happy" is Tina when seeing the geese, I often have little conversations with her about it:
"So, sorry, Tina that there were no geesies for you to see today.  They must have flown south for the winter."  Or, "Well, it was a good day for you, Tina.  You got to see LOTS of geesies!"
I have had Tina since 1997.  She is at least 15 years old now (though older according to AC&C records where she was rescued from). 
She has always been a dog who loved long walks and exploration for wildlife over spending time at a dog run.   In fact, the few times I took Tina to a dog run when she was younger were always met with looks of intense boredom and trips to the gate as is to say, "OK, I've had enough.  What else can you show me?"
But, take Tina to a lake or pond and it is a whole different story!
In fact, more than once, Tina jumped in the Central Park lake to get closer to the ducks or geese.
Mind you, there is nothing "predatory" about Tina's fascinations with waterfowl.
I think, being a part Corgi mix, she simply want to "herd" them in some way.
For their part, the geese and mallards seem to know that neither of my two dogs represents any kind of danger to them.   Indeed, Brad and Angelina have walked within a couple of feet of Tina and Chance, as well as the geese have.
The birds seem to have acute sense of what is actual threat to them and what is not.
And so it was like that, yesterday.
Both my dogs, Tina and Chance sitting patiently watching me feed the birds and even "posing" afterwards for me to shoot a short video of them and the geesies.
For his part, my Pomeranian, Chance is not quite as obsessed with the geese and ducks as Tina, but he too, seems to enjoy them.  He particularly likes to grab any uneaten morsels of food that the birds didn't get to.   (Chance's favorite activity is eating -- anything!). 
But, there were no "leftovers" yesterday.
But, whether it is a love and fascination for the geese and ducks themselves, or just a desire to hang out with them peacefully, both of my dogs are reluctant to finally leave the waterfowl and come home.
"Come on, kids, there's a good meal waiting at home for you!"
And it is that line more than anything else, that gets Tina and Chance finally on their feet to trot home enthusiastically.
Who says the animals (whether ducks, geese or dogs) don't understand what we are saying?
And what animal (even humans) can resist the temptation of a good meal?  -- PCA

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