Why Are Geese Such Assholes?

Hell hath no fury, as a little girl in Texas found out last weekend, like a goose scorned.

Or chased. Or, let's face it, just looked at the wrong way.

Five-year-old Summer Gidden wasn't hurt after being run down in the streets by a goose. The pictures of her ordeal, tweeted by her sister, have been shared thousands of times.

In fact, despite being pinned down by the massive, honking bird, Summer's goose may turn out to be golden after all.

"She's famous," her sister, Stevie Gidden, told local station KHOU. "I knew [Summer] would be one day. A lot of people are relating to it. I'm talking to my friends on Twitter [who] are saying, 'This is why I hate ducks,' or 'This is why I hate geese.'"

Indeed, it seems where there's a goose, there's a survivor story.

Dianna Helmers, founder of Agape Fosters in Iowa, has been there.

She used to be a mail carrier, which led to run-ins with "dogs, cats, geese, ducks, loose donkeys and even a wild pheasant. All being shitheads."

But a goose is a special kind of ornery.

"They can be real assholes," she says. "Like some humans and sometimes justifiably. Humans need to respect the warning signs. They're usually protecting their nest. They're territorial."

It's not just geese, according to Caitlin Stewart, founder of Rancho Relaxo in New Jersey. She says a lot of big birds are out of their minds.

"Ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys are over the top," she tells The Dodo.

But as it turns out, it's actually for a very sweet reason. "The moms protect their eggs and young. The dads protect their families - their flock," she says.

Rancho Relaxo's most famous crank is Sherman the turkey, seen here standing guard over his ducks in the pouring rain.

Rancho Relaxo

"Sherman is extra scary in the spring," Stewart says.

And, unlike the dogs and goats and horses who call Rancho Relaxo home, Sherman is definitely not into hugs.

When it comes to geese, that guarding instinct is particularly pronounced - especially this time of year, when there are so many freshly hatched babies to protect.

In fact, what we consider goose rage may be no more than overzealous parenting.

"I think this time of year they're either protecting their nest or, if they're male, protecting their territory," Dr. Peter Helmer, a veterinarian with BluePearl Veterinary Partners, tells The Dodo.

Geese tend to keep intruders at bay by standing up and unfurling their wings. It's a steer-clear signal animals pick up on easily - well, most animals.

"We don't pick up on these cues," Helmer says.

Jeremy King, a wildlife officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, agrees that geese are just really scary into their kids.

Like soccer mom scary.

"They're just good parents and that's why they're so protective," he says.

Maybe we're just not meeting geese under the right circumstances. After all, mail carriers tread on their turf. And Summer Gidden admits she was chasing geese - seriously kid?? - before the honks of hell turned on her.

Kasey Boggs used to volunteer at a clinic that routinely rehabilitated waterfowl. She may be one of the few humans to glimpse the soft underbelly of a goose.

"The funny thing is, geese were some of the most appreciative species," she tells The Dodo. "They were affectionate and almost thankful towards us and seemed to really understand that we were there to help them."

So, maybe instead of hating on geese, we should give them a pat on the back for their sterling skills as parents? Well, maybe not a pat on the back. Try applause. From at least 100 yards away.