- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Flo is a blur of orange as she bounds along the rim of Lake Minnehaha.

Crouching at the water’s edge, the 21/2-year-old border collie eyes a gaggle of geese floating warily a few yards away.

Flo dives into the water and the geese explode into the air, honking angrily as they fly east, away from Holliday Park.

Wednesday was just another day on the job for Cheyenne’s goose-chasing canine.

Flo has settled into a routine in the two months since the city bought her as part of the effort to rid local parks, golf courses and grassy areas of pesky geese.

Jason Sanchez is the city’s grounds and facilities director. He said in recent years his crew has tried everything - bitter-tasting sprays, coyote decoys, honking car horns - and the geese wouldn’t budge.

Holliday Park was home to more than 200 geese, he said. And each of them could produce up to four pounds of droppings a day, turning grassy areas into minefields.

“Our staff would spend a lot of time cleaning the park, and within a few hours, you would swear we hadn’t even been there,” he said.

All that changed after Flo arrived in April.

The highly trained dog, which wears a bright orange vest when on duty, was purchased for $6,000 from Hudson Valley Wild Goose Chasers in Nyack, New York.

“Flo mimics the goose’s natural predator, which is the arctic fox,” Sanchez said. “That makes the geese paranoid so they don’t want to become permanent residents of the city parks.”

So far, Flo’s technique appears effective. There were fewer than two dozen geese in and around Lake Minnehaha on Wednesday when city employees gave a demonstration of the pup’s capabilities.

“She’s a really great dog,” said Brandon Peterson, the city’s parks foreman.

Flo isn’t just Peterson’s co-worker; she has become part of his family.

The dog lives with him.

“(Flo is) very needy but very lovable,” Peterson said. “I have a 3-year-old girl at home, and they get along just fine. And she gets along great with my (three) other dogs.

“Flo requires a lot of exercise, and you have to keep her mind going. So there is lots of running around. Otherwise, she gets a little bit pouty.”

Flo has become so important in the battle to keep local parks clean that she has caused the City Council to consider a change to code.

Members are considering amending an ordinance that requires dogs be kept on leashes in public. This would allow Flo to continue to operate without running afoul of city law.


Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com

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