The river and the walkways are resplendent this time of year. But other times, you probably know that it can feel overrun by the Canada goose, and all the green feces they leave behind.
But if you're out for a very early morning run, or sometimes take an afternoon walk along the river, you might just notice that the geese are gone. That's because of Len Ellis and his two border collies. Hired by the state, Ellis and his dogs gently herd the geese off the Esplanade, ruffling their feathers just enough so that the geese fly away from the park — at least temporarily. They've been doing it every day for the past 10 years.
Radio Boston's Virginia Marshall met Ellis on the esplanade at sunrise to watch him and his dogs at work.
"We've got two border collies here that do all the work," says Ellis. "They're the ones that move the geese off property and out of water and the two dogs — one is Lynn and the other is Flo. They're 8 and 6 years old, respectively. And they are well-trained, they listen to the commands. They'll do exactly what you want them to do when you want them to do it."
"I'll tell you, they have herding instincts. Even when little kids are in the yard, they don't hurt the kids, they love the kids, but they'll naturally — instinct — try to herd them. Move them into a certain area."
"When I retired I had no intention of doing this, but I was bored. So one year after retiring I said, you know, I might try to do something like this. It's nice to be outside, having been in the corporate world all my life, it's kind of nice to know that I don't have to worry about anything except my dogs and myself and go do the job. I don't have to report to anybody, basically, just make sure you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. It's just a nice change of pace. Some people would say, 'Would you want to do this when you were 40?' Maybe not, because maybe the challenge wasn't there like it was in the corporate world. But when you're 65 years old, starting a business, I'm 74 now, I've been doing it for 10 years and it's been great."
Len Ellis, founder and owner of Geese (B) Gone.
- "Every morning Len Ellis sets out for Boston from his Marblehead home on a wild goose chase. Ellis and his two border collies , Brock and Fly, patrol the banks of the Charles River for the Esplanade Association , herding the population of Canada geese off the grass and into the water or the sky."
- "Len Ellis pulls up his blue Ford Escape to the Storrow Lagoon in Boston's Esplanade on Thursday afternoon. As the SUV nears the man-made inlet along the Charles River, a gaggle of about 60 Canadian Geese feeding in the grass begin to fan out and head for the concrete-edged water."
This segment aired on May 25, 2015.