REILLY, who lives with Childs and his family, began patrolling Airlie Gardens’ 67 acres in September 2012.
There was an immediate reduction in the geese population after Reilly went to work, but it took some persistence
to completely eradicate the fowl problem.
“It seemed like the geese knew when the weekend was, when Reilly was not out here; 5 o’clock on Friday after-
noon is when it seemed like they always came back in,” Childs says. “So we did it repeatedly.”
The process of herding the geese isn’t much of a spectacle. In fact, Childs refers to it as anticlimactic.
“You’ve seen a dog chase a squirrel; it’s similar to that,” he says. “But being a herder, instead of running straight at the flock, he kind of
tries to flank them because he’s really trying to get to the back side of them and push the geese toward me. The geese just see him as a
predator or a threat, and they fly away.”
Thanks to Reilly, Airlie Gardens no longer has a problem with geese permanently nesting on the grounds. The birds soon got tired of
returning only to be run off again, so eventually they stopped coming back.
However, due to migration, the birds still arrive seasonally.
“The fall is when the migratory geese come in, and the nonmigratory geese kind of
jump on the bandwagon with them,” Childs says. “So there will be huge flocks of them
coming in, and it will be a mixture of migratory and nonmigratory. In the spring, it’s usu-ally
pairs that come in because they’re looking to nest and lay their eggs.”
These are the times of year when Reilly is the most active, working in tandem with
“I want him to actually work them so that they get the maximum intimidation out of it,
so I will maneuver him as close as possible before I command him to go,” Childs says.
Other migratory birds, such as ducks and swans, are part of the Gardens’ attraction, rather
than a nuisance. Because they feed on the water, Reilly does not pose a threat to them.
With Reilly on patrol and the geese under control, Airlie Gardens can maintain its
beauty at a lower cost. Terrified guests, destroyed turf, and polluted walkways are no
longer a problem.
Grounds supervisor Scott Childs brings Reilly to work every day, and allows him to run the Gardens before guests arrive.
PHOTOS BY ALLISON POTTER
WBM august 2018