Kerri Stinger slowly pulled up to the baseball field at Atlantic City High School, trying not to make too much noise as she tucked her sedan behind the bushes.
Her vehicle is decked out in graphics promoting her business, South Jersey Geese Chasers.
“Your solution to goose pollution,” ran across the back windshield, as Stinger opened up the back door to let out that solution: her border collie, Rex.
“You can hear them,” Stinger said, as the sound of Canada geese became more evident.
Stinger snuck Rex around the home-plate gate. Rex trailed the first-base line, sneaking toward the pack of geese waddling through center field.
When Rex was within 20 yards, he began to sprint. The geese flew in the air and off the property. A job well done.
For businesses and organizations in the area, dogs are more than man’s best friend; they contribute to the South Jersey workforce, providing techniques that humans cannot.
Stinger, CEO of South Jersey Geese Chasers, she said she uses border collies because they mimic the Arctic fox, which is the only natural predator for the Canada goose.
“We’ve domesticated dogs from their natural purpose. Every species has come from a working dog of some sort,” Stinger said.
For her border collies, they will stalk the geese like a predator and then sprint after them. They can cover much more ground than any human.
The purpose of the company, Stinger said, is to eliminate geese from public areas, such as recreational fields or parks, to reduce the bacteria that humans can contract.
“Kids play on the field. The germs and bacteria can then be tracked into their house with their feet and hands. It’s a big problem,” she said.
Even lakes can be polluted from the bacteria, so during nice weather, Stinger and Rex will get in a kayak and chase down the geese. Or Stinger will head toward the geese to move them off the water, and Rex will stand around the land to make sure they move entirely off the lake property.
“Border collies’ main thing was always herding, so it’s natural for them,” she said.
For a job like geese chasing, it’s beneficial to strictly use border collies, but Bob Boddy, who is the chief and K-9 handler for Mid-Atlantic Regional Search and Rescue, said almost any dog can be trained to be a search-and-rescue canine.
Boddy and his wife Cindy, were training their three miniature Australian shepherds.
While one dog would sniff out a bloody cloth underneath a line of cones and stand by it, another dog was heading into the woods to sniff out an article of clothing.
Boddy said these dogs are a force multiplier, meaning they can take the place of three people during a search rescue.
It’s all in the nose, he said.
“Their nose is a lot stronger than ours, and we would have to almost be on top to find a missing person, wherein dogs can be within a certain area and get us closer than humans could do,” Boddy said.
Boddy said there is a big need for this kind of assistance in South Jersey, with people sometimes going missing in the Pine Barrens and other woods.
Boddy said he is trying to pull the drive to hunt out of the dogs, but they still get a treat when they complete an evening of training.
“They all have specific toys for when they’re finished,” he said as he threw a red and purple ball to two of his shepherds. “It’s a game to them, and they’re rewarded. But when we’re at home — no ball.”