Grace the Goose Dog: Keeping parks free from goose poop

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – It’s the worst way to ruin your outdoor time: goose poop.

And at John Collins Park in East Grand Rapids, it used to be everywhere.

“It’s a really big problem,” said Jill Hendrickson, who is one-half of Webs and Paws, a service dedicated to preventing the messy problem, "especially in a park. It’s unattractive and, you know, it’s actually bad for people.”

Her business partner is quiet but effective. Highly-trained border collie Grace does most of the grunt work, Jill admits, but for the last few weeks, the two have been chasing away geese from local parks and outdoor areas, reducing the droppings the birds leave behind.

“We’ve had a really good success rate, especially here at John Collins,” said Jill.

Jill Hendrickson and her dog, Grace, have been chasing geese out of John Collins Park for the past two summers, keeping it free of those nasty droppings the birds leave behind.

Along with John Collins Park, the pair also makes the rounds at local golf courses, colleges and universities, and residential homes in need of a chance for less gross surroundings.

Trained by a breeder in North Carolina, Grace doesn’t hurt the geese, who likely don’t even know she’s working.

“Grace will - and border collies in general - will tuck their tail in between their legs just like a wolf, and they’ll crouch low into the grass and kind of like creep up on them,” said Jill. “So to the geese, they think she’s a wolf. But she’s just a dog playing around, in reality.”

Grace is certified by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and is a working dog.

This is Webs and Paws second year partnering with the city, and people are noticing.

When FOX 17 asked picnicker Rachel Sportel whether she’d seen any geese about, she said no. But that wasn’t the case a few weeks before Grace started working. “You had to watch where you put your blanket or where your kids were running,” said Sportel. “No bare feet running in the park because there were geese droppings.”

“I don’t treat her as a pet,” said Jill. “To me, she has a purpose, and she has a job to be done. And so if she’s not doing that job, she’s going to hear from me about it.”

But it’s not all business.

“She’s a rock star,” Jill added.

For more information on Webs and Paws, click here.

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