When Geese Attack!


What happens when geese attack? Those of us that have watched an episode of Shark Week –or one of the numerous other home movie, reality-oriented clip shows that appear on just about every network now– have witnessed what happens when animals lose their minds and attack humans. Those of us that have watched enough of these videos to know the formula know two things will happen. We will discover an ultimate truth about nature that everyone that all victims learn in the midst of an attack. There is no truth. There are suggested methods used to handle animals, and everyone that interacts or handles animals knows those suggestions. Yet, the most experienced handler will inform those willing to listen, that there are no steadfast rules to prevent a wild animal from harming them. The other truth is that survivors of such attacks learn this the hard way, and they state that they have no hard feelings for the beast that attacked them in the testimonials they offer after the video.

“I don’t blame the animal, and I have no ill will towards it,” they say. “I was in their domain. They were just doing what comes natural to them, and I deserve some of the blame for being there in the first place.”

Some of us just stare at the screen in silent awe. These survivors either are the most wonderful, most forgiving people on the planet, or they’re just plain stupid. These survivors had the threat of having their limbs torn from their body, at the very least, yet they maintain that they are not in the least bit bitter toward the animal. Some of us find this reaction so incomprehensible that we begin to wonder if we aren’t being played just a bit. We wonder if the networks have test-marketed victims’ reactions, and they have found that the audience finds these violent clips a little less horrific, and thus more entertaining, if the survivor comes out on the other side of the clip with wonderful, forgiving sentiments. We hate to be cynical, but if this isn’t the case why do almost all of these victims appear to react in almost the exact same manner. It almost appears as though they’re reading from a script.

We here in hysterical, emotional reaction land, know that it would be reasonable to state that a bear is “Just doing what comes naturally to them” as it ripped a person apart for the delicious treats they happened to have on them when they happened upon the bear’s domain. We know that part of the victims’ testimonial involves them trying to avoid appearing foolish, as they would if they tried to suggest that they had no idea that a bear might attack them in a bear preserve. We would consider them foolish if they said that, or at least more foolish than a guy that expressed surprise after being attacked by a bear at a Schlotzky’s sandwich shop in Omaha, Nebraska.

We also understand that it’s the goal of those that give testimonials to appear reasonable when they say, “It was just a bear doing what a bear does” when she clenched her jaw on their face and left them looking like the elephant man. We understand that to suggest that the attack was, in anyway, vindictive, personal, or anything other than instinctual on the bear’s part, would make that victim appear foolish, and we all know that most animals don’t single people out for attack, and that they prefer to avoid humans, unless conditions dictate otherwise. All of this is perfectly reasonable, even to those of us in hysterical, emotional reaction land, but it discounts the normal, hysterical reactions one should have if a bear removed one of their limbs, or left their face in a condition that now causes small children to run screaming from them at the mall.

One would think that a bear attack survivor would spend the rest of their life cheering on bear hunters. Would it be reasonable, seeing as how they were in a bear preserve when the bear attack occurred? It would not be, but most survivors of bear attacks should not be so reasonable that they are now able to hide their new lifelong, irrational fear (see hatred) of bears in the aftermath.

If there is anyone that we might excuse for being bitter, and hateful, it is Charla Nash. Charla Nash was the victim of a chimpanzee attack, in 2009. That chimpanzee was a friend’s pet, a 200-lb chimpanzee named Harold. In the attack, that occurred in a suburban neighborhood, this chimpanzee blinded Charla. He also severed her nose, ears, and hands. She also received severe lacerations on her face. Her life was as ruined as any that have survived an animal attack, but Charla Nash, somehow, remained forgiving. She wasn’t as forgiving as those with what I believe are prepared responses. These responses appear to come from TV producers issuing a “Do you want to be on camera? Then say this …” type of stated, or unstated ultimatum. Charla Nash does appear to be forgiving, and that forgiveness appeared genuine:

Charla Nash

“I’ve gotten angry at times,” the USA Today quoted Charla Nash saying. “But you can’t hold anger. It’s unhealthy. It goes through you. You’ve got to enjoy what you have.”

Charla Nash provides a philosophical outlook on life that those of us that have lived without such a horrific moment in our lives can use as inspiration in dealing with our comparative trivialities. Her response to such a vicious attack is nothing short of admirable. It’s a little incomprehensible to most of us, but we still respect Charla Nash for maintaining a somewhat optimistic about life after such an attack. The “goose guy” is not Charla Nash, however, and he should not be afforded the same admirable plaudits Nash is due. The “goose guy” is just an idiot.

Pro kayak angler, Drew Gregory (aka the goose guy) was fishing in a river, and he began feeding the geese that swam near him. One of the geese, in the competition for the food Gregory was offering them, decided that the best way to beat his competition to the food was to go to the source. The source of the food, in this case, was “goose guy’s” backpack. The goose, doing what a goose does, attempted to empty the backpack, and in the process sent “goose guy” overboard. After that, the goose appeared to be laughing at “goose guy”. If it wasn’t laughter, the sounds the goose made sounds that one could confuse with an expression of dominance.

The first thing that struck me is why does someone film themselves fishing? I understand that fishing shows date back to an era that precedes me, but I have never understood how it achieved a level of popularity in a visual medium. The next question I have for “goose guy” is why did you allow this particular, embarrassing video distribution? Why didn’t you hit the delete button on your phone in the immediate aftermath? If I were involved in this incident, no other set of eyes would ever see this video. I don’t think I would even be able watch it. My pride couldn’t have survived the hit.

Some have suggested that we are now at a point in human history where human beings will do whatever they have to do for their fifteen minutes of fame. If Andy Warhol, the originator of this quote, were still alive, and he saw this video, and learned that the victim, Drew Gregory, distributed it himself, and that that victim made himself available for aftermath commentary, as Gregory did in the TruTV airing of the video, Warhol would smile and say: “Told you!”

It is just a goose, I’m sure most readers will say, and what are the chances that an (on average seven-to-eight pound) animal could end your life? We can all agree that those chances are remote, but what are the chances that that same animal could do irreparable damage to an eyeball or an ear? What are the chances that a goose could give you lacerations that could land a victim in the hospital? I can tell you one thing. I would not be calculating these probabilities in the moment of the attack. I’m thinking that some primal, self-preservation tactics would rise to the surface as I fought this thing off.

I can also guarantee you that the networks –that run these type of clips– would deem my after the fact testimonial unusable, as I’m sure that videos of goose beheadings don’t test well in market research.

I would also not be that amiable dunce that found a way to laugh about it later. I would not view this moment in my life as entertaining in anyway. I would not qualify it by saying that I was in their environment, and I received everything I deserved. I would see that moment as one of those survival of the fittest moments. I would think about all these videos I’ve watched, and how the one thing we do know about nature is that it’s unpredictable. I also have to consider the idea that I would not think about any of this, not while in the moment. I have to think that my impulses would override rational thoughts. I would just act. I would just grab this thing by the throat, whisper Hannibal Lecter lines to it, and separate its head from its body. If that bird managed to escape all retribution, and I still had some angle on it, I would grab my kayak oar and drive the bird in a manner that would make fellow lefty, golfer Phil Mickelson, proud.

If the bird managed to escape all retribution, you can bet I wouldn’t be smiling and forgiving in the interview that followed. My, edited for television, version would go something like this:

“I don’t know how you guys attained this video, but it has ruined my life. Everyone I know now calls me “the goose guy”. If I get a hold of that goose, I will find the slowest, most agonizing death possible for it. I’ve already killed twelve geese in this area, thinking that it might be that one that ruined my life, and I’m not sure if I’ve killed this particular goose yet, or not, but I’ll probably end up killing twelve more before I rest.”

After witnessing a Rottweiler attack, in person, I find myself relegated to an embarrassing hysterical, emotional land whenever the average, full-grown Rottweiler walks into a room. It’s irrational and emotional, two reactions I strive to avoid in life, but they’re a part of me I cannot control. I’ve lost arguments with those that state that no dog, be they Rottweiler, Pit bull, or otherwise are evil by nature. They cite science. I cite hysterical emotions based upon experience. I lose. Even as I’m losing these arguments, however I know I’m not the alone with these thoughts. I don’t know if I’m in the majority, but I am quite sure there are many that would hold such view in the aftermath of their near-death attacks, or embarrassing attacks. I’m also quite sure that what I consider normal reactions to attacks, by wild animals, end up on the cutting room floor of these ubiquitous clip shows, for animal lovers that would not appreciate what I have to say, or what I do, in the aftermath of such an attack.