Here’s the story of a goose who has become something of a Spartanburg celebrity. Butter, the goose who could not fly, united a neighborhood resting on the banks of his little pond in Spartanburg. Here’s his story as told by one of those neighbors, Jennifer Curry.
2020 hasn’t been the best year, but I’ve tried to find the silver lining.
The silver lining I never expected was accidentally adopting a pet goose.
More specifically, a goose named Butter, who saved the year 2020 for an entire neighborhood.
How the Goose Arrived
During the longest spring break ever, we spent many days outside enjoying our shared backyard pond. A pair of geese also enjoyed the backyard pond area and laid some eggs. (Parents, you can explain that part.)
One day in early May – surprise! We went from two to three geese!
At this point, it was cute and fun to watch, but it wasn’t anything new. We’ve been fortunate enough to see our older geese raise little goslings and kick them (quite literally) out of the nest.
However, this gosling was different. From the time he arrived, he gave us all a bit of hope when we needed it most.
Since we were all home more often, we got to watch him grow up right in front of us.
We recognized this was nature at its finest, and we had a front-row seat.
But, just because we had a front-row seat doesn’t mean we tried to make him our own.
Those of us who share the pond were smart enough to give him his space. His parents are notorious for hissing and honking if we get too close.
Plus, I’ve seen what happened to Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls when he messed with the wrong swan.
Even so, that didn’t stop us from naming him. We called him Butter because he was buttery yellow as a baby.
How He Became Our Pet
From our experience, geese migrate during the summer.
According to South Carolina DNR, “This occurs for a 4- to 5-week period after nesting, from mid-June through mid-July. Birds cannot fly when they are molting. The birds resume flight by late July.”
We’ve watched our older geese fly away and return year after year. This year, they seemed to be staying longer than usual.
Their gosling couldn’t seem to fly.
After trying to teach Butter to fly without success, they eventually flew off without him leaving him all alone (except for the five houses of humans around the pond).
We spent a couple of days listening to his pitiful honks and mournful calls for his family whenever geese would fly over.
Then, he simply chose us to be his family.
He went from staying a bit away to following us around the pond.
Then, going on walks with us around the neighborhood.
Sitting beside us as we watched our children play in our backyards.
Visiting us on our porches.
Knocking on our doors.
Joining us for backyard picnics and happy hours.
Posing for photos (even leaving his mark on our back to school photos).
Somehow I became a goose-mom. I even bought him his own food bowl and a toy.
He had a way of turning even the wariest into a fan. Take my mom, for example.
She scares easily from real animals, as well as people dressed as animals.
Butter worked his charm on her and even had her taking him on backyard walks.
I started posting photos on Facebook about my accidentally adopted pet goose adventures, and Butter became a “celebrity” in my little social media world.
Then, he disappeared.
How He Brought a Whole Neighborhood Together
One day after I gave in to accidentally adopting a goose, I received a text from my neighbor.
Someone in a nearby neighborhood had found Butter and contacted a local animal rescue group.
The rescue came and picked up Butter.
Those of us on the pond only found out after he was gone.
To say we were sad is an understatement.
In my panic to ease my kid’s tears, I posted on Nextdoor about our missing goose, hoping to find a contact for the rescue group.
Little did I know, Butter had made an impression far beyond our pond.
Before I knew it, the post had garnered attention on social media and Nextdoor.
Apparently, Butter made friends with people throughout the neighborhood and was called by many names: Chicken, Hugo, Larry, Barney, etc.
Here are just some of the responses I received:
- He was such a treasure.
- We miss him taking his showers in our creek.
- He is a sweetie pie.
- He brought us so much joy!
- All he did was make everyone happy with his walks.
- I’m gonna miss our little guy. He just waved us off to work this morning!
- He brought smiles and joy to everyone he walked with and never bothered a soul and wasn’t in danger.
- We love when he comes to visit us.
- My little one loves seeing him in the neighborhood!
Before I knew it, my friends and neighbors were calling different local rescue groups trying to find our missing goose.
Through the power of social media and the goodness of others, we discovered he was picked up by Paws Animal Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. (PAWS).
Where Butter the Goose is Today
As much as I would like to tell you that Butter is back home in the neighborhood pond and visiting everyone, he isn’t.
After several conversations with the founder of PAWS, we decided it was best for Butter to learn he wasn’t human.
His belief that he was human was starting to get him in a bit of trouble – he started going into stranger’s garages and leaving them “presents,” which is how he was discovered that day.
So, our accidentally adopted pet goose has found a new (more appropriate) family.
The animal rescue organization placed him in a federally protected cove where he can splash around with other misfit geese.
While we are still very sad he is no longer greeting us when we go on walks or sitting on our porches, at least we know he is alive and happy.
PAWS sent us pictures and videos of him playing with his new friends, which was kind. (Apparently, our neighborhood bombarded them with calls.)
Maybe one day he will find his way back home to visit, or he will entertain his new goose friends with stories about his human family with loud honks.
Where to Donate
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, “Like all native waterfowl and other migratory birds, Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and various other state and federal laws.”
Should you find a Canadian goose that has been injured or requires care, please contact Paws Animal Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. (PAWS).
Their founder, Mercedes Curry, went above and beyond dealing with a goose-loving group of neighbors.
2020 has been hard on organizations, such as PAWS. If you have a heart for animals, I encourage you to get involved with their all-volunteer non-profit organization.
For more information, head to the PAWS website.
Butter the Goose Update from Paws Animal Wildlife Sanctuary:
“After release, Butter’s first 2 friends from the cove were a goose that had recovered from a severe leg injury and another who had recovered from a deep wound on his back. Both had been released by us (PAWS) just a few weeks before Butter arrived at PAWS. The three floated all over the cove together and ventured a bit further out each day until they came back one day with a huge group of geese. Butter now has a group of about 30 friends that are seen floating out on the lake regularly. We can no longer tell which one he is. He has assimilated fully into his new family. He lives near PAWS volunteers who keep an eye out in case any of them ever needs help.”