Herding Birds, Finding Purpose

March 26, 2018 Written by: Aiden Doane

We love seeing dogs find purpose. One organization helping dogs do precisely that is Flyaway Geese, an organization that provides goose management services with highly trained, skilled Border Collies! For the last 20 years, Flyaway Geese has been providing uniquely tailored goose control services to golf courses, military installations, airports, schools and more all the while, equipping their dogs with an enjoyable, remarkable purpose. Find out more about them at @flyawaygeese on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or at www.flyawaygeese.com.


“After 22 years of doing it, I still get so excited about seeing dogs work,” said Rebecca Gibson, founder and owner of Flyaway Geese, as she fondly recollected stories from her years in the wildlife management industry.

Rebecca started Flyaway Geese in 1997 to train Border Collies for Goose and Wildlife Management. Since their start, Flyaway Geese has established itself a trusted resource and formidable force in the industry for 20 years, and provided hundreds of locations in nearly all 50 states with well-trained, skilled dogs for goose management.

“I saw a major need in the area as Canada Geese started to infiltrate golf courses, but back then, you had to convince people that this form of training and goose management works,” Rebecca said. “Now there is so much science behind the effectiveness of Border Collies for bird management! As we’ve spent 20 years investing in these dogs, the dogs themselves have created a name as exceptional bird management.”

Flyaway’s method of wildlife management is the most humane method there is on the market, and is supported by PETA and The Humane Society of the U.S. These dogs have no interest in harming birds; they are simply herding. Although Border Collies are not considered to be “natural bird dogs,” Rebecca finds their obsessive desire and immovable drive the key to their effectiveness as goosedogs.

“My dogs even get out at McDonalds looking for geese!” she exclaimed. “Every time my van opens, they’re looking. They’re always on ‘go’ at all times.”

Their training occurs in different ways, at different paces. Year-old dogs and puppies might engage in basic obedience training before moving onto chasing ducks and birds on the ground and later, in the pond. Once manageable in less controlled environments, they join older dogs in chasing geese. Depending on which avenue they may go into (airport, golf course, school), their training takes a more tailored edge and becomes more extensive. For example, an airport dog may receive exposure to airplane noises or a golf course dog may learn not to jump on golf carts.

Two such Border Collies set for a grand adventure are Lava and Flare, full sisters and children of a dog Rebecca imported from Ireland and a goose-control dam. They are highly driven, working machines who love to chase birds and will get the chance to in Hawaii! Officially joining the United States Marine Corps Hawaii, Lava and Flare have been preparing for over 8 months for their new home and will now start their tour of duty as Marine Devil Dogs.

“I’ve been going to Hawaii to train Lava and Flare at our first marine corps base!” exclaimed Rebecca. “We’re hopeful that our dogs’ success at the base will continue to launch us in a new direction and possibilities for dogs to go.”

When considering safety and protection during training, Flyaway began using Rex Specs throughout the entirety of their dog training.

“We started using Rex Specs when dogs were in heavy brush areas or on air fields, where I was concerned over them moving quickly through grass and sand,” she said. “Now that it’s nesting season, some birds get very aggressive so it’s good to have this safety piece to protect the dogs’ eyes when they’re dealing with the birds. We also use their extra small goggles on puppies while they’re playing it’s a lot easier to transition them when older.”

Flyaway’s dogs are purposefully resolving a costly, long-term problem in a very sustainable, humane and cost-effective way. In a recent interview with ABC World News, Hendrick Motorsports expressed that Flyaway dogs have transformed their entire work environment by being stress relievers and mascots. Even if they are not always serving a grand purpose or resolving issues with nuisance wildlife, these Border Collies are working every day and are building fanbases where they’re at. Rebecca’s first dog at Fort Meyers was even on the front page of USA Today and in People Magazine!

“To me, I love to see these dogs work and enjoy what they do day after day,” she said. “It still gives me goosebumps to see dogs work like they’re supposed to. I still get excited about taking dogs to work, about seeing the light in puppies’ eyes turn on as they find purpose, and about showing these dogs how much fun this is and watching them enjoy doing it every day.”

For more information on Rebecca’s work and Flyaway Geese, visit www.flyawaygeese.com.
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