A Man, A Goose, and a Racetrack

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Melvin White, long-time infield worker at Saratoga Race Course, recently discussed his long-time friendship with the famous Saratoga Infield Goose (who has a Twitter account, @SaratogaGoose, named in her honor) with the Albany Times-Union.

White brought the well-known bird to the track about 25 years ago, and she’s been following him around the facility ever since. White posts signs with race changes on the boards in the Spa infield, and “Dukie” as he calls the goose, spends her days there, honking conversations with him and begging for lunch scraps.

Dukie, who lost part of her beak in an accident when she was young, doesn’t fly, although White isn’t aware of her wings having been clipped. She spends part of her time in an indoor/outdoor pen to prevent her from wandering onto the track during races.

“We just appreciate each other,” he told writer Tom Keyser. “She’s a friend of mine.”

Read more at Albany Times-Union

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  • 4Bellwether666

    My Mother told me many moons ago…If you want a real friend go get yourself a Dog and I’m sure a Goose will work just fine…

  • Don Reed

    Honk if you like this story.

  • Black Helen

    More than one self proclaimed ‘Macho” New York photographer has been chased and scared silly by those geese. An amusing site indeed!!!!

    • nu-fan

      Yes, they can chase and bite! We get, in our area, lots of migratory birds and, in particular, Canadian geese. Have to be cautious around them. But, I never realized that they can live so long?

  • oldbay

    How do we get this story nominated to the “Stan Bergstein” award? Seems like another story that the award was created for.

  • MarshallCassidy

    Tom,
    I had two goats when I was very young and these guys, “Double” and “Trouble,” apparently arrived at just the right moment in their youth to become emotionally attached to me as if I were one of them. They were great to be around — would go sailing, would play chase, would even play a version of soccer. I wonder if Dukie could be coaxed to honkingly cheer on exciting stretch runs from the infield as we do from the grandstand!

    • nu-fan

      I have been surprised by goats. Always thought of them as just “farm” animals but I have, in recent years, been exposed to different breeds of goats and have found them to be extremely social. The big breeds can be a little destructive but the pygmy ones are just darn cute!

      • MarshallCassidy

        nu-fan,

        My experience with goats dates to about the age of twelve or thirteen, my age that is. I have no idea their breed, nor their origin at the time so long ago as they were gifts from friends of my parents, but they were brothers, their height at the withers about three feet and their eyes at about four feet, I guess. They were kind of a dark brown color generally with black and white markings especially around the face, and their large ears drooped casually; they had been gelded, and their horns had been removed.

        Double and Trouble were very playful and behaved very much like a friendly dog might, eager to chase a ball, to rear up and feign attack in a playful way, and utter a goat-like whinny of happiness.

        Chasing a soccer ball became great fun because they would take turns getting it and racing off in the other direction to keep it away from all pursuers. If I could get close enough to threaten capture the ball would be kicked off to one side to their advantage. And they did all this as a tag team, working together to my disadvantage!

        One other trick they and I enjoyed was playing King of the Mountain with a picnic table, where one of them would get on top and challenge me to try to push him off. If I succeeded a great vocal display would follow and off he would run. I never did get either of them to try to dislodge me from the table, though.

        I know this all reads rather strangely out of fair context, but I ask you to remember these exchanges were short-lived, momentary acts of playfulness that lasted mere moments before we all went about our business. Such was the sort of life I enjoyed from time to time so long ago. Goats can be a lot more than just farm animals though I never saw a destructive nature.

        • nu-fan

          Thank you for your lovely story about your personal experience with your goats. Yes, I’ve also had thoughts about how similar they can be to some of our typical domestic pets such as dogs. That is what surprised me so much. I also know a couple of people who do have goats for companion pets but also use them primarily to keep the weeds down. Many do use them for that purpose, especially in fire-prone areas. The destructive side? My son’s fence line is, now, full of large holes where the goats in the vacant (and very expensive lot) is situated right behind his house. Those were BIG goats and would chew wooden fences as well as all shrubs that they could get a hold of. But, we also enjoyed their “company”. These goats would stand on their hind legs and look over a 6-foot fence looking for a hand-out such as an apple!

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