PEOPLE | CULTURE | HAPPENINGS
Airlie Gardens’ goose dog keeps guests from having a fowl experience
The Life of Reilly
BY ASHLEY PAIGE EDWARDS
WHEN strolling the meandering paths
at Airlie Gardens, basking in the
sweet scent of azaleas or taking in
the colorful landscape, admirers can
enjoy their day without being both-ered
by swarms of geese.
Rewind to eight years ago,
and it was a different story.
Around 200 nonmigratory
Canada geese nested on the
property year-round, and they
caused lots of problems.
“When they have their nest-ing
or when they have their
young, they’re very aggres-sive,
so you’d have to deal
with them attacking guests,”
grounds supervisor Scott
Geese graze on land, and
they were destroying turf and
costing Airlie Gardens thou-sands
Nonmigratory geese were a big honking problem for Airlie
Gardens before Reilly (right) arrived. The birds viewed the
rescued border collie as a predator when he would try to
herd them, and flew away.
of dollars in landscape repairs. They were also polluting
the grounds by producing roughly 40-50 pounds of feces per
year. The Gardens had to hire a full-time employee just to clean
up the mess.
Something had to be done to get the geese to leave the prop-erty.
Childs researched humane methods to chase them away.
He learned that border collies are very effective at dealing with
the invasive birds. The dogs’ instinct is to herd rather than chase,
but they have an intimidation factor that encourages the birds to
leave and not come back.
“They’re better than any other herding dog because when
they’re working, they have a very intense stare,” Childs says.
“It looks like a predatory wolf
Airlie Gardens contacted
Carolina Border Collie Rescue,
a nonprofit dedicated to the
rescue and adoption of aban-doned,
neglected, and mis-treated
border collies in North
Carolina. And that’s when they
He and his siblings were
abandoned on the side of the
road — possibly by an unscru-pulous
breeder because they
weren’t up to breed standards
— and were rescued by the
organization on St. Patrick’s
Day. The entire litter was taken in and given Irish names.
Childs adopted Reilly and took him to Victoria Wilcox, a
trainer in Hampstead who enters her own border collies in
herding competitions all over the country.
“We’re very lucky because most of the people that do that are
up in the mountains,” Childs says. “She trained him on herding
with her flock of sheep.”
WBM august 2018