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Living The Sweet Life

Jumping in the pond is part of the job Lucky enjoys. (Photo by Kelli Uldall)

As the sun rises over the 18th fairway at the Pebble Beach Golf Course in Pebble Beach, CA a small dot appears. It moves fast and low over the dewy grounds. It darts around the 18th hole and then across the famous fairway. This is Lucky's favorite place to be.

A few years ago, the managers at the Pebble Beach course realized they had a problem. They were frequently inhabited by many wild geese and such visits would always leave several pounds of feces behind. In an attempt to humanly control the geese, the course decided to use herding dogs, like Border Collies. Following a nation-wide search, Lucky was hired to keep the resident Canada Geese and their waste off the course.

Other golf courses are also hiring Border Collies to rid their greens of the pesky pest. "We had about 500 of the geese, which were driving us crazy," says Tracey Holliday, the Head Greenskeeper at the Sterling Farms Public Golf Course in Stamford, Conn. "But I got my Border Collie four years ago, and now we don't have any."

"The geese and their droppings were all over the place," said Peter Ruggieri, Superintendent at the Inwood (NY) Country Club. "But a couple of months after Rock got here, the geese were gone. Rock is so vigilant that the geese won't even fly over the course anymore. Smart? He's smarter than me."

One of Lucky's perks is monthly grooming - which she dislikes - and free hot dogs from the course snack shop - which she loves. As she ages, Holt hopes to begin training a younger version of Lucky that will eventually become her replacement. But until then, Lucky will continue to patrol the grounds at the Pebble Beach Golf Course to keep it geese and waste-free.

Working Border Collies are trained to respond to hand, voice and eye gestures. Known for their high intelligence, most can comprehend a 200-word vocabulary. Although highly intelligent, their herding obsession, athletic abilities and the need to perform generally make them unsuitable for the average pet owner. This is a breed that needs to work.