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Pets

Recently, I celebrated 15 years of answering reader questions. Here is another favorite among the thousands I've received:

Q: I have a pet goose. I thought the goose would enjoy the pond our back yard. Instead, he stays by the door and follows me into the house, walking from room to room. He loves me but is aggressive toward strangers. Is he just lonely, or this a normal way for a goose to behave? He's messy, too!

-- S.D, Gainesville, FL

A: Taking a gander at your question is avian veterinarian Dr. Peter Sakas, of Niles, Ill. He says some geese pair with a partner for life; apparently, this one has chosen you. It's not necessarily a sexual thing; just a sort of lonely thing. Or perhaps the goose was imprinted on humans at such a young age that he has no idea he's a goose.

Sakas says geese can become very territorial; from the goose's point of view, you belong to him and your house does, too. It's no surprise that he'd guard what is his. In fact, there are instances of people using "guard geese" the same as they would guard dogs to protect property.

"You offer evidence that you can lead a goose to water but you can't make him swim," Sakas says. He explains that some species, including domestic geese, don't spend much time in the water. If you happen to have a Canadian goose, you're actually breaking the law. This is a protected species and it's illegal to keep these birds as pets.

Any goose, particularly one that's not domestic, can harbor diseases in those messy poops. And, no, geese can't be house-trained. As much as your goose may want to follow you inside, that's probably not a good idea. How far can it go? Well, if it's up to the goose, he'd likely want to share your bed.

Add another goose to the scene, and yours might stop fixating on you. Sakas says that plan calls for a back up since there's a chance your goose is so attached to you that he'd attack the newcomer.

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