Gander the goose, Buckle and Ralphie. Photo by Kristen Pierce

What do you get when you cross a herd (of goats) with a flock (of geese)? A “flerd.” At least that is what Lisa Woods, Key Peninsula resident for 17 years, local veterinarian, and owner of the Brookside Veterinary Hospital, calls the odd trio that lives on her property.

One day in the end of March, a goose, now named Gander, mysteriously appeared in the parking lot of the animal hospital. Woods assumed the bird was injured and had been left there by someone. She and her caring staff meticulously inspected the goose and found nothing wrong with it. Relieved, but puzzled by the sudden presence, they decided to let it visit for a while until they came up with a solution.

“We felt bad for the goose. We figured it had lost its mate and was lonely,” Woods said.

She and her staff didn’t think it would stick around too long. But after a short time, Gander made itself at home. At first it flew over to Woods’ neighboring property and befriended her horses. Everything seemed fine, until one day, when the animals were horsing around and Gander got stepped on, which injured one of its toes. Of course, Woods came to rescue and mended the foot. After that episode, Gander decided to relocate over to the other side of the property and take up residence with the smaller, safer animals: the goats.

Dr. Woods with Gander the goose, Buckle and Ralphie. Photo by Kristen Pierce

Woods has two rescued goats, one male and one female. According to Woods, Gander has taken a special liking to the female goat, Buckle, (named by Woods’ son).  Ralphie, the male, is friendly with Gander also. Buckle and Gander walk together, rest together, and eat together. Gander has also been seen grooming Buckle.

Gander left its sanctuary this past May. Everyone figured the bird was off trying to join a new flock or look for its mate (since they only mate once for life).  No one expected the goose to come back. But, to everyone’s surprise, Gander returned a week later. Woods admits they all really missed the bird while it was gone.

“He’s become a huge part of our family (which she refers to as a group of misfits). She adds, “We wish he could find some friends, but at the same time, we’d hate to see him leave us.”

Gander has not wandered off too far since the brief trek back out into the world that week in May. However, the goose does make small trips now, off to neighboring homes. Walt Berg and his wife, Arlene, live down the street from the veterinary hospital.  Gander has visited the couple on several occasions. It was Walt Berg who thought Gander was a newsworthy creature.

“This struck me as a heck of a human interest story, to see that darn goose hanging around those two goats, overseeing everything,” he says. “You’ll have to make an appointment though, to catch him when he’s in.”

Volunteer spotlight: Barbara Bence
From Pioneer Stock: Russ Schillinger, Victor logger and farmer