Once upon a time, there was a young couple who lived in Colorado. They adopted a puppy, and named her Shiloh, and the couple and their puppy often played in a big undeveloped field next to their apartment complex. There Shiloh discovered one of the Great Joys of Doggy Life: chasing geese. Actually, first she discovered the joys of eating goose poo, and her humans had to put a stop to that, but THEN Shiloh discovered the geese, and infinite satisfaction of making a whole flock of them take flight.
Alas, in time, the family moved away from the apartment and the big field full of geese to chase. Shiloh was sad about this lack in her life, but there were other good things going for the new apartment, like being able to see out the windows, so it pretty much evened out. And, on special occasions, Shiloh got to visit places where there were geese to chase. It was a good life.
(Okay, the third person narration is beginning to take its toll, so TA-DAA! We switch!)
A few weeks ago, I brought Shiloh to the seminary campus when I picked up Matt from class. With only one car, we often drop off and pick up, and sometimes it’s really easy to load Shiloh into the car and give her a bit of time to explore a less-familiar place, interact with a variety of people, go running to greet Matt when he comes out of the building, and sometimes, when there aren’t lots of people outside, I can let her off the leash to chase the geese while we wait for class to end.
I generally wait until there aren’t many people around for two reasons:
First, Shiloh can be very, very friendly and excited when she’s meeting new people–when she’s off the leash, this usually involves a very fast incoming approach. This often causes some concern because people aren’t sure whether she’ll jump on them (she won’t) and, regardless, she’s a pretty good-sized dog. People who aren’t comfortable around dogs are usually pretty freaked out by 60 pounds of canine barreling gleefully in their direction. Until we get that under a bit more control, I’m generally very aware of her exuberant tendencies.
Second, technically speaking the campus isn’t really geared toward dogs. There’s an outdoor patio where people sometimes bring smaller dogs on sunny days, but none of the buildings allow non-service animals and none of the on-campus housing allows pets. This is entirely understandable–many people who have dogs overestimate their dog’s good behavior (and lack of mess-making), or assume others will welcome an animal simply because the owner welcomes it. (See above for my awareness that not all people like dogs or are comfortable around them.) Granted, there’s absolutely nothing that even slightly indicates that dogs aren’t allowed on campus–many people love to see Shiloh and many students come play with her for a while, mentioning that they miss their own family dogs–but I still feel just a little bit like I should be extra-well-behaved when I bring Shiloh, especially when any of the seminary higher-ups are around.
At any rate, a few weeks ago I had Shiloh on campus. It was chilly, early evening, but the sun hadn’t set yet so in the light it was warmer. I know the Seminary grounds staff has been complaining about the geese, which are a significant problem. They don’t really migrate any more around here, so these geese have been in the campus area for several years, at least. The deterrents that the seminary uses don’t really work any more, but using new ones will require quite a bit of money invested, and that’s not really an option in this economic climate. Anyway, there weren’t many people around, but there were some geese, so I let Shiloh off the leash and told her to go get them.
With great joy, she sprinted toward the geese, making sure they all took off and were going to stay airborne, and then came back to me, immensely pleased with herself. I spotted another cluster of geese around the corner of a building, so we went and chased them off, too, then returned to the main courtyard area.
Who should be coming across the quad than the Head of Building and Grounds! I waved, since we know each other from the time I was employed there, and he headed toward me.
“Is that your dog?”
“Yep, she is.” Please, don’t be mad at me for letting her run around off-leash.
“I’d like to buy her.” He laughs, so I know he’s not really serious. “What I wouldn’t give for a couple of dogs on campus, trained to run those geese off. But we can’t, because of liability, long-term.”
I volunteered that Shiloh will be glad to help whenever she’s on campus, and Tom made it clear that we’re welcome any time. Yay!
Fast forward to Tuesday. Matt and I were flying back from New York, and when I turned on my phone after our last flight I had a voicemail waiting–it was Tom, asking me to give him a call.
Turns out the school is hosting a big dinner the night before the inauguration ceremony for the new president (who started back in July), and they want the campus to be as clean as possible. Shiloh and I have been contracted to arrive on campus at 9am and stay until a little after 5pm, and keep the geese out of the main areas of campus so the sidewalks will stay clean for the fancy visitors.
I think this is hilarious, but I’m glad to be able to help. Tom asked me to set an amount I’d like to be paid and he’ll get it approved. I have no idea what to ask for. If it’s a warm day, I intend to sit and read or write outside for most of the day, with occasional circuits to be sure the geese don’t get any crazy ideas into their heads about sneaking back. If it’s cold, it’ll be quite a bit more tedious.
But, for a while at least, Shiloh will be the Official Goose Chaser of Denver Seminary.
I couldn’t make this stuff up.