By M.R. Guercio
For the past seven years Augie has had a very important job to do; to humanely remove Canada geese from the campus of the State University of New York at New Paltz. You may have read about the wonderful Augie previously, in a summer 2011 issue of the Binocular. We checked in with Augie’s parent, Mike Malloy, to see how Augie is doing and how his job has evolved over these last seven years. It seems that Augie has taken on some new and interesting responsibilities.
It is still Augie’s primary job to herd geese away from campus ponds and fields, but his introduction to the campus has been so successful that his work load has lessened. Mr. Malloy has said that the geese mostly avoid the campus, and no longer nest there, ever since Augie started working. Augie’s other important roles on campus include welcoming incoming students at orientation, being the face of the school’s winter clothing drive, and visiting students at residence halls to relieve stress during finals. Outside of the college campus, Augie is part of a nation-wide program at public libraries. These programs use dogs to help children read aloud by being there to listen and encourage them. For his work with children, Augie has become a certified therapy dog.
As if Augie wasn’t famous enough, he now has two children’s book written about him by SUNY New Paltz English Professor Rachel Rigolino. One titled “Augie Goes to College” chronicles his travels from the rescue farm he lived on to his job at SUNY New Paltz. Another titled “Augie Goes to the Library” tells the story of his job helping children learn to read aloud. Augie even had a role in the college’s theater production Fat Ram, where Augie barked at a villain on stage. Mr. Malloy has confirmed what we could all assume, the campus community at SUNY New Paltz loves Augie!
In July 2019 Augie will turn 12 years old. Soon he will be retired and enjoying a relaxing life with his dad, but the message of his important work will live on. Augie and Mr. Malloy are real life examples of how humans can find ethical solutions to human/animal conflicts. There are plenty of beautiful geese, ducks and other waterfowl that grace the SUNY New Paltz campus, and with Augie now on the job, these birds can visit, but avoid taking up permanent residence. This allows the college to save money by avoiding the cost of cleaning up the waste the geese would leave behind. Augie is very well trained, and knows to leave certain kinds of birds, like ducks, alone and never hurts any of the geese he herds away. We thank Augie and Mr. Malloy for the wonderful, inspiring work that they do and the amazing example that they set.
Marissa Guercio is a recent biology graduate, naturalist and all around animal lover. She is interested in animal behavior, conservation, philosophy, and how humans can better interact with the natural world. It is her belief that the ability to live in harmony with nature and wildlife exists in all of us, we need only the proper tools and knowledge.