Look out, geese, your partying days are over. Hannah the Peacock Gap Goose Dog is back—or soon will be—thanks to a quasi-pro bono reconstruction job on her torn knee ligament by eminent San rancisco orthopedic surgeon and veterinarian Rick Schwach.
Hannah, an eight-year-old Border collie, is an employee (Canine Division) of Peacock Gap Golf & Country Club in San Rafael. Bred and trained as a sheep dog, she was acquired by the club three years ago as a replacement for its two previous Canine Division employees--Bogey, who got run over chasing a car, and Chipper, who belonged to the club’s former course superintendent and left when his owner resigned.
Is, or was, Hannah a “good gooser”? According to Superintendent John Rader, “One of the best”. Rader explains: “Border Collies have a natural herding instinct refined by years of training with professional dog handlers and shepherds. But geese? To a collie, they’re strictly meal tickets. The dog’s natural instinct is not to herd birds, but to eat them.”
“That may or may not be how Hannah views her job, but the fact is, if she has ever killed a goose, it was probably by accident. I don’t know whether she’s a bit slow, or kind -hearted, or what, but once she’s chased all the geese into the water or the air, that’s it. Fun’s over. ‘Can’t fly, and swimmin’ ain’t in my contract.’ That’s fine with us. We don’t aim to harm the birds; we just don’t want them pooping or sunbathing in our bunkers.”
For three years now Hannah has made her home in the Club’s maintenance barn, where she is cared for and fed by John and his crew of greenskeepers. Few dogs have ever had as many two-legged pals and playmates, or a more exciting career. Until recently, a familiar spectacle around Peacock Gap was the sight of John or one of his human assistants driving a maintenance cart hell bent for election across the greensward, with Hannah itting in the passenger seat or running alongside the cart, ears wig-wagging, nose held high, sniffing the breeze for fowlish aromas. Nearing the water holes, Hannah would bound unbidden into the thick of the flock, sending squadrons of geese exploding into the air or sliding into the drink in a synchronized splash-down. Ah, what fun! A dog day’s work fairly begun.
Lately, however, Hannah has been slow to answer her wake up call, and slower still to report for duty. She’s willing, no question about that, but there is, or was, a pronounced limp in her gait. John took her to the local vet, and the vet’s prognosis wasn’t good. Hannah had a torn “ACL” (knee) ligament, no doubt caused by all that frenetic goose chasing. The tear is repairable, and if the operation is performed properly, eight-year old Hannah will come out of it “practically good as new”. But the procedure is costly —about $3,500. Peacock Gap, currently in default to several lenders and under the protection of the Bankruptcy Court, simply doesn’t have the spare cash to make Hannah whole again.
Good hearted friends and dog lovers have taken up a collection, but, well, paying for an expensive knee operation in increments of a dollar here, a dollar there, and a fiver if someone’s feeling flush, is an agonizingly slow process. Hannah’s chances of running again seemed to teeter between thin and forget-about-it.
Then into the picture stepped Dean Taylor, veteran San Francisco Police Department investigator, Peacock Gap regular, golf fanatic, and friend of the working dog.
“Where’s Hannah?” he asked Head Pro Adam Eisner one afternoon, “haven’t seen her around lately.”
“Hurt her leg”, said Eisner. “Torn knee ligament. Vet says she needs an operation. We haven’t the money.”
“What a coincidence! You have a dog that needs a $3,500 operation and I have a friend, a member of the Olympic Club, who’s interested in joining Peacock Gap — a friend who happens to be a veterinarian and one of the top orthopedic surgeons in the Bay Area.” How interesting.
In due course, Taylor introduced Hannah and her boss, John Rader, to Dr. Schwach. Schwach agreed to perform the operation for a non-cash consideration that both he and head pro Adam Eisner found not only acceptable but irresistible. On Monday morning, Hannah has a date with Rick Schwach at the Avenues Pet Hospital in San Francisco. See you in a month or so, Hannah.
Watch out, birds, she’s back!
August 5th, 2010 - update
Thought you would like to know that Hannah's surgery Tuesday went smoothly and she is now resting comfortably at the home of her boss, John Rader. According to John, Dr. Rick Schwach, who performed the operation on her knee ligament says she should be back chasing birds within a month or two, "good as new."
John, Adam Eisner, Paul Rojas, and the rest of the crew at Peacock Gap have asked me to thank the many club members and friends of Hannah for their contributions and get well messages. I'm sure the old girl will thank you personally when she has the chance. Give 'em a wag, little lady!
how to advertise here