A match made in Ohio Heaven
Reflecting back nearly six years ago, Jan Lousteau, a stay-at-home mom from Columbus was flipping through the local newspaper one day when a unique ad caught her eye.
- Do you love dogs? Check.
- Do you love the outdoors? Check, check.
- Do you need flexibility in your career? One-hundred percent.
“I wasn’t even looking for a job,” noted Jan. She was intrigued however; so she picked up the phone and called.
And so began the story of Jan’s career with Ohio Geese Control (OGC), an Ohio-based small business that provides a safe, humane and effective way to control Canada geese populations through the use of chase techniques that include trained Border Collies.
Since Jan was hired in 2016, OGC has expanded its service area to include Akron/Canton and Toledo, in addition to Cleveland and the state capitol. Jan is currently both a handler and a dog boarder for OGC. Her partner on the workforce is Ben. See Ben’s cute, adorable, furry little face on the left.
With OGC looking to hire additional staff in 2022, that initial print advertisement –from a pre-pandemic world–still rings true, even in this changing world of isolation, Zoom and the inability to unplug. So basically, in a nutshell: dogs, nature and flex-time. What could be better? For people revaluating their careers and long-term goals, OGC truly allows you to live your best life with a furry co-worker who won’t disagree with you, at least not verbally.
OGC is currently looking for dog handlers to join its team as well as dog boarders. Candidates go through an interview process to determine their comfort level and experience. It is important to note that OGC works closely with the Division of Wildlife to ensure their management of Canada geese is done within the guidelines of the Humane Society of the United States, PETA, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Consistent harassment of geese eventually forces them to disperse. OGC team members are expected to demonstrate respect for wildlife and complete follow-through on these policies.
Jan has a few memorable stories from her tenure that demonstrate how she combines situational awareness, harassment techniques and OGC’s humane approach. The first involved a goose OGC handlers came to know as Mr. McNasty because of his feisty spirit. One of the first rules of working with Canada geese is to never turn your back on them, particularly in the spring when the male’s role is to protect the nest. If you do, you risk getting bit. At the time of Jan’s initial encounter with McNasty, Ben could not walk backwards yet. Unfortunately, the dog got a little too close, turned around, and the goose nipped him. On future site visits, Jan found that using a dark, open umbrella to hide Ben when they were retreating would keep both him and the goose safe. It’s this instinct of “reading the room” that makes Jan a stand-out handler.
“I wasn’t even looking for a job,” noted Jan.
During a separate outing, another goose swooped down toward Jan’s head. Ben leaped in the air and got his body directly between her and the goose, blocking Jan’s head and saving the day. Jan, Ben and of course, the goose, were all unharmed. It’s easy to see that Ben and Jan enjoy working together. They have each other’s backs and a special bond.
Bonds between the dogs and handlers are fostered by OGC. All trainees go through on-site classes with the dogs and the geese to learn the role. They see first-hand how situations unfold by shadowing experienced handlers until they feel comfortable visiting a site solo with their new pooch partner in tow.
“First and foremost, you have to love dogs! Secondly, you have to enjoy being outside no matter what the elements are. And third, the concept of flexibility has to be something you can embrace,” said Jan. “Flexibility goes both ways,” she said. “You can start your route when it’s convenient for you, but you also have to be willing to change routes depending on when and where the need arises for OGC services.” Prospective handlers should assume they will work a 6 to 8-hour shift with the dog; however, flexibility really comes into play with the start and stop time as well as what days they choose to work.
So even if you aren’t looking for a job or a pet, like Jan wasn’t, contact Ohio Geese Control today. You may just find yourself in a beautiful outdoor office with the most loyal co-worker you’ve ever met. It sounds like a match made in Heaven.