Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull 

Over the course of my life, I have been blessed with many wonderful pets, mostly dogs, a few cats and lots of fowl. Until now, I never had a problem with a pet wanting to run behind me when I started to drive off in a vehicle. I have seen many dogs chase other people’s cars, but my own dogs seemed less interested in car pursuits, happily.

Earlier this year I wrote about Henry, Lewis and Mae Shelton’s pet goose that they hatched from an egg last year. The Sheltons kindly offered him to our family, to be a new addition to our barnyard. In every respect he is a delightful pet, friendly, gregarious, extremely garrulous, and always engaging.

Henry does not realize that he is a goose. He constantly waits at the back door, expecting either for one of us to come out to play or, more likely, for us to invite him inside. Gladys, the Cotton Patch goose, who previously “ruled the roost”, has assumed a subservient role, always letting Henry lead in any barnyard activity. 

At night they dutifully go into their confined pen with the chickens and ducks, even if on occasion I have to shoo them along. In the morning, Henry honks a mile a minute, obviously telling me what happened during the night, and probably criticizing me for not giving him a bedroom inside the farmhouse, but he soon forgives and resumes his role as my outdoor sidekick.

Gladys talks, or I should say “honks,” idly, but Henry directs his verbiage to humans. He seems to take the position that if Gladys wants to follow him around, that is her business, as long as she understands that he is the conduit to our family.  Once a member of the human family enters the yard, Henry drops Gladys like the proverbial hot potato.

One day last month my Good Wife and I were working in the front yard with Henry and Gladys by our side. I got in the pickup to go for the mail, and as I started down the drive, Henry dropped my Good Wife and Gladys and began running after the truck. I had to stop and lead him back up the lane. When he repeated that course a few days later, I realized that I could not drive off with Henry anywhere in sight. 

Henry does not want to be petted, picked up, or handled in any respect. He merely wants human companionship, which he prefers far more than any contact with fellow fowl. He appreciates being fed and warns the other barnyard residents that they are not to eat or drink until he has finished his meals. Unlike Gladys, his honks are gentle, melodic strains of chitchat, pleasant to human ears. 

He seems to be quite tolerant of the two Khaki Campbell ducks, whom he clearly esteems more than he does the chickens. The drake has learned as well that he and his spouse do not have to take anything off the chickens. Our chickens are good egg producers, but they are not what one might call “barnyard pals.” 

The present breed we have are Rhode Island Reds and I have been spoiled by the Domineckers I have had over the years. The Reds offer no companionship for humans. My role in their lives is purely to feed them and collect their eggs. I am convinced that Henry considers the chickens to be boors, thus he bosses them around whenever possible, and flees from them at the opening of the barnyard gate.

Henry’s is an interesting personality. The nurturing at Lewis and Mae’s hands has brought him far beyond the psychological range of a run-of-the-mill fowl. He has his own psyche and his own name, and he knows both.