Toulouse, the Goose

I don’t know how many of you know that some people call my husband a genius. I usually call him Burl, sometimes, honey or sweetheart! Recently, I read that geniuses are eccentric. I thought, well, he’s not

My genius husband deciding a Toulouse Goose would make a good pet.

My genius?  husband deciding a Toulouse Goose would make a good pet.

eccentric so maybe he isn’t a genius? Then the other day, he asked me something rather strange. “Shirl, he said, “maybe we should get a goose instead of a dog.” Actually, I knew he was okay, because I knew why he said what he did.

We recently spent the weekend at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, Michigan. I would recommend the park to everyone. It is like a step back into the Netherlands of 100 years ago. Because my husband is of dutch descent, we have visited the old country, Holland, and looked for the Updyke name

"I was always told I was a dutch girl."

“I was always told I was a dutch girl.”

in old records there. It was rather interesting to find my maiden name, Britt, more often than Updyke. Of course, the old spelling of his name is Op Dyck. My parents used to say, “We’re Pennsylvania Dutch.” I think it was because of World War II that they didn’t say. “We are of German descent.” Later, though, I learned that the Pennsylvania Dutch were immigrants from Southwestern Germany and Switzerland. They are known for the founding of Germantown, PA.

At one time, one-third of Pennsylvania’s population spoke Dutch. Words we use today, like cookie, cole slaw, dock, stoop, and yacht, show the impact the Dutch had on the local dialect.

Back at the village, I loved the towering 25 bell carillon that chimes out the hours, quarters and halves. The history and culture of the Dutch come to life here with everyone dressed in native costumes, with its authentic

Dancing is possible wearing wooden shoes.

Dancing is possible while wearing wooden shoes.

Dutch architecture, canals and windmills. There’s a wooden shoe factory, folk dancers, an old Frisian farmhouse, and much more including rides for the kids. Where else can you go where children may stroll with a goat on a leash?

I’m sure you’re wondering what all this has to do with my husband’s strange question. It’s because one of the park’s residents is a Toulouse Goose. (Toulouse rhymes with goose). This breed originated near

Here's Toulouse with two neighboring ducks.

Here’s Toulouse with two neighboring ducks.

Toulouse, France. The name is found recorded back as far as 1555. They say this breed of goose generally has a placid disposition and this one surely did. Some reasons to make a pet of a goose are that they are good watch guards, they trim grass and weeds and they are very trusting in nature. Too bad most of them end up as a delicacy on the dinner table. Here’s what one geese owner said, ” I have a pair of Toulouse geese and they are very nice. They will rub up against me like a cat and sit down in my lap or right next to me. They also seem to understand every word I say and listen very well. They are very friendly and I would recommend geese to anyone willing to devote time and effort to them.”  (By the way, these geese weigh between 20 and 30 pounds.)

Early one morning, while getting our Band Organ, tuned and ready to

Burl and I and "Shirl Belle" dressed for the occasion.

Burl and I and “Shirl Belle” dressed for the occasion.

play at the Dutch Village, we met one of these geese. “Toulouse” is his name. He makes his home at the park and he strolled behind his handler,

Howard, Toulouse and Shirl.

Howard, Toulouse and Shirl.

Howard Pipple. At the village, they call Howard the goose’s handler, but it didn’t take us long to see he was much more than that. The goose follows him everywhere. No matter where he went, the goose was right behind him. We acted surprised at this, but Mr. Pipple said, “We’ve had him since he was a gosling.” Then Howard bent down and picked him up. This massive bird made a wonderful pet, and obviously he thought this man, who cared for him, was his mother. Thus, the story behind Burl’s comment, which by the way, he had said with a laugh. I’m glad of that, because I don’t want to become a goose handler or goose mother. Looks like I’m

Our Band Organ tucked in among the dutch architecture.

Our Band Organ tucked in among the dutch buildings.

married to just a godly, sweet, loving, highly intelligent,  husband and not a genius, at least, not an eccentric one. And, I don’t think he’d make a very good goose handler, either.

What do you think? Are you ready to trade in your dog for a goose?

17 thoughts on “Toulouse, the Goose

  1. I again enjoyed your column….it reminded me of our friends who are also sailors. The name of their boat is Swoose. When I asked her what it stood for she replied…My uncle always said that I was somewhere between a swan and a goose and therefore his nickname for me was swoose. i thought that was quite original. Surprisingly your mention of “children strolling with a goat on a lease” brought to mind a strange sight at a car show we attended this week. A young lady brought her pet to the show and …you guessed it…It was a goat on a lease whose name was Ellie May.


    • Love hearing from you, Connie. Your friend is a good sport being called Swoose. So she looked somewhere between a goose and swam? Hmmmm! Anyway I think its a good name for a boat. Hope you two, and your son are doing fine.


      • We are all fine …thank you for asking. I think her uncle was trying to describe her gracefulness or sometimes lack of.


  2. I take care of a cousin’s toulouse geese in the winter when his pond’s frozen – they do make good watch “geese”. Very noisy when people arrive. They were so used to me in my hat and carharts all winter long, then started hissing at me when I put on a spring jacket and no hat LOL


    • Hi Tilly: Obviously the Toulouse geese don’t like change. Maybe they didn’t like the color of your coat. Was it yellow? Anyway, they are smart birds. Thanks for writing.


  3. I ❤ nicknames…they represent parts of our personality. My ancestors are Penna Deutsch which is the Amish community of Germans. I had wooden dutch shoes and loved the Dutch clothes and pig tails. All our pets are nature animals that live wild and have thier own nicknames…birds…squirrels "Ornery"…rabbits "Thunder Bumpers"…Canadian Geese "Honkers"…groundhogs "Fat Boy" (who ended up having a litter),,,deer…all the usual critters…we even had a peacock for a short time and a Bobcat sighting…bear prints have been seen…we have a lot of piebald animals (they are not albino more patch work). It might be fun for Burl to have his goose…can they be house broken…?


  4. Oh Shirley, you should get a goose. Then your blog would be called “Mother Goose and You!!” And, yes, we not only have nicknames for our critters, they also have middle names. Bella Mia, aka Belly Button, Snickersnort, or just plain Belly. Bubba W, aka Bubbalicious, Shy Annie, aka Psycho Cat, our horse Chica Marie, aka Cheekie Bones. . . And, oh, so many more!


    • For some reason a goose for a pet just doesn’t appeal to me and neither does your suggestion for a new blog name. LOL Oh, well, you tried and I’m glad you did. Hope you will write again. By the way, your nicknames show a very creative mind.


      • LOL I hope you know I was just kidding about the name change. One Mother Goose in this world is probably enough. I don’t blame you for not really wanting a goose for a pet. I’m not too fond of them myself.


  5. Hi Shirley, We don’t have a dog; and I love birds, but I don’t think that I would ever want a goose. The historic village of Smithville, in Port Republic, NJ has geese that freely roam the grounds. They are fun to watch and I enjoy seeing them, but they are large and they do “make large messes” if you know what I mean. LOL Nearby, in the Park where my son stays, some of the vacationers think that there is a dog problem, and that people aren’t cleaning up after their dogs…but that isn’t the case…it’s the geese. At least, this is what the caretaker has told us. LOL As far as I know, you can’t potty train a goose either. So, I think that the goose needs to stay on the farm or where it can roam freely and safely, but I do like the honking sounds that they make. . Your pictures of the dutch buildings are quaint and they look alot like Historic Smithville with its many shops and brick walkways. Incidentally, I am also of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage (on my Mother’s side).


    • Hi Colleen: I like your practicality. You’re undoubtedly right about the geese being our barnyard friends. I remember wishing the Canadian geese would stop at our pond, but when they did, I wish they hadn’t. They are messy!! Thanks for writing again, Colleen, you hit the subject “on the nose.”


  6. Hi Shirley, I like geese and ducks. I would love to have them but my husband is not in favor because he thinks they are dirty; and the chickens are enough. I think Burl should get a goose. It would be great company for Pedro-lol.


    • Hi Darlene: I’m not sure how Toulouse and Pedro would get along. Maybe Pedro could ride along perched on his head. Gives us another aspect of this decision making. I wonder, Darlene, if Scott knew he was getting a farm girl when he married you? I appreciate your chicken raising project. The results are good, added to my compost.


  7. Shirl!! You anmd Burl are two of our most favorite people and spending time with you at the Dutch village this year was so wonderful!! I would love to have a goose and so would our Dog Dusty!! that Village was so special and like a tiny step back into history. Burl of course saved the day with all of the other wonderful COAA Members who helped Marc with the Pell!! Cannot wait to see you again my sweet Friend!! Please say hello t Burl for us!! Love you both so much!! Talk soon!



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