City’s geese issue goes to the dogs 

Few people would be proud to describe their occupation as a "wild-goose chase," but for one Bay Area couple, that’s exactly what it is.

Losee’s Goose Control, the brainchild of Henry and Suzanne Losee, is the realization of many dreams, all focused on humanely ridding local cities of goose droppings.

It also gets them outside with their co-workers, a pack of six border collies from local shelters.

And for the dogs, it’s a chance to do what some dogs can only dream of: They get to chase birds with their owners’ blessings.

For Foster City and the San Mateo-Foster City School District, the company prevents migratory Canada geese from eating grass and leaving droppings behind for residents’ shoes. Losee said geese can eat up to five pounds of grass a day and leave behind a pound and a half of droppings.

"If you’ve ever walked on a walkway that’s strewn with guano, you don’t feel like you can put your foot down anywhere," said Jim Hardy, city manager of Foster City.

For $2,500 a month, the Losees use their dogs to chase geese out of Foster City parks and lagoons. The school district and city are working on a plan to pay for the program to expand to school sites around town.

The idea is to convince the birds that the local areas are not landing spots without injuring or killing them.

"Some of the places we go again and again, if I drive my car into the area, the geese will leave before I even get out of the car," Henry Losee said.

Peninsula Humane Society spokesman Scott Delucchi said the method — while not a permanent solution — is far better than harming the birds as some residents suggest.

In separate teams — with two dogs each unless the situation demands more — the Losees patrol sites around the Bay, including Colma cemeteries and nearby golf courses.

The dogs, Lance — their "alpha male" and senior dog — Jack, Abbie, Nikki, Tess and Shaunie are trained not to harm the geese should they get close, but given that their quarry can fly, Henry Losee says it’s rarely a problem.

"Collies are herding dogs, they’re not biting dogs," he said. "The only time they even get close to the animals are when they’re injured."

The challenge in Foster City is that because of the numerous parks and lagoons in the area, the Losees and their dogs end up chasing the same group of geese around, from water to grass and back, before convincing the birds to leave the area. In lagoons, they sometimes use laser pointers to scare the geese away.

"The golfers and the mothers love us because the kids don’t come home with goose [droppings] all over them," Losee said.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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