Meet the New Work­ing Dogs of Gov­er­nors Island


Atlas (left) and Reed (right), photos by Sarma Ozols

The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island announced today the arrival of the newest mem­bers of the Island’s work­ing dog team – Atlas and Reed. Atlas is a two-year-old blue mer­le bor­der col­lie, while Reed is a five-month-old bor­der col­lie pup­py. They join the Trust’s two vet­er­an bor­der col­lie employ­ees, Chip and Aspen. The four pups will work togeth­er to help con­trol the geese pop­u­la­tion on the Island and pre­vent the birds from befoul­ing pub­lic areas.

Our beau­ti­ful lawns and pub­lic spaces would not be in the amaz­ing con­di­tion they are today with­out the efforts of our work­ing dogs,” said Clare New­man, Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. Atlas and Reed are wel­come addi­tions to the team, and we look for­ward to watch­ing all four mem­bers of our work­ing dog team bound around our cam­pus, keep­ing us free of geese and allow­ing our vis­i­tors to enjoy our pris­tine green spaces.”

Ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff!” said Atlas and Reed, Gov­er­nors Island’s newest work­ing dogs, in a joint state­ment express­ing their col­lec­tive excite­ment about join­ing the team.

Atlas has already begun chas­ing geese on the Island sev­er­al days a week, and Reed will offi­cial­ly begin his full-time employ­ment on his first birth­day. Right now, Reed is get­ting accus­tomed to rid­ing the fer­ry back and forth, train­ing along­side his new col­leagues, and going on adven­tures. All of the work­ing dogs are res­cues; Reed, Chip, and Aspen come to Gov­er­nors Island from the Mid-Atlantic Bor­der Col­lie Res­cue, a bou­tique breed-spe­cif­ic res­cue unique­ly qual­i­fied to improve the lives of mis­placed bor­der col­lies by plac­ing them into homes match­ing the indi­vid­ual needs of each dog. You can learn more about their work by vis­it­ing https://​mabcr​.org/.

Reed is named in hon­or of the late Jim Reed, a long­time mem­ber of the Gov­er­nors Island fam­i­ly who was intri­cate­ly involved in build­ing and car­ing for the Island’s park and grounds – includ­ing hir­ing” the first pack of work­ing dogs in 2015 to humane­ly keep vis­it­ing geese off of the Island’s lawns and pub­lic spaces.

The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island tried many dif­fer­ent meth­ods of goose con­trol and found work­ing dogs to be the most sus­tain­able, humane, and adorable solu­tion. Herd­ing dogs like bor­der col­lies make great guardians against flocks of geese. Their nat­ur­al herd­ing instincts urge them to con­trol, but nev­er to harm, large groups of geese, effec­tive­ly chas­ing the birds away. While herd­ing dogs make for a pow­er­ful goose deter­rent, geese are per­sis­tent, and so the Island’s pooches must remain ever vig­i­lant. The dogs take turns stay­ing overnight on the Island, typ­i­cal­ly mak­ing the rounds (with a human care­tak­er in tow) at dawn and dusk daily. 

You can fol­low the work of these dogs at their offi­cial Insta­gram page, @giworkingdogs.

Atlas, Reed, Chip, and Aspen aren’t the only pups who can take advan­tage of Gov­er­nors Island’s numer­ous cul­tur­al offer­ings. The Island’s Win­ter Dog Days run through April 30, 2024, with dogs wel­comed to vis­it Gov­er­nors Island every week­day with their human com­pan­ions begin­ning at 10:00 a.m. This win­ter the Island fea­tures an expand­ed off-leash dog park open dai­ly in Colonels Row with plen­ty of space for dogs to run and play out­side and maybe even chase a few geese of their own.