Geese tend to mate for life, but what happens when a grieving partner is left behind?
If you’re a lucky goose, a second shot at companionship could be in the cards.
It happened for Blossom. The domestic goose frequented Riverside Cemetery in Marshalltown, Iowa, with her partner, Bud, for five years.
Tragedy ruined their love story in August when a wild animal killed Bud, according to Dorie Tammen, the cemetery’s general manager.
Blossom’s behavior didn’t change immediately – she continued hanging with swans and geese in the nearby lake. But as winter rolled around, she seemed lonely, Tammen noticed.
“It wasn’t until January that we started seeing her isolating herself and hanging out alone,” Tammen told USA TODAY.
In a shift from the usual historical Facebook posts about the cemetery’s occupants, Tammen shared an online personal ad seeking Blossom’s next lifelong mate in February. It went viral.
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“Lonely, widowed domestic goose seeks life partner for companionship and occasional shenanigans,” read the post. It advertised Blossom as “youthful, adventurous, lively” – and of course, “beautiful.”
The fun post indirectly led Blossom to her new partner, Frankie, whom she met on Valentine’s Day.
“They’ve been together ever since,” Tammen said.
Tragedy strikes, leaving Blossom alone
Blossom and Bud, who Tammen says arrived at the cemetery as a pair, were named after two premature babies laid to rest there in 1888.
“I thought those names were awfully sweet for two little infants who never got a chance in life,” she said.
The geese made a home of the historic Riverside Cemetery, where around 24,000 people are buried across nearly 100 acres.
“They would swim in the lake, come and eat when we fed them and come to our office and peck on the glass,” Tammen said.
One day, someone alerted her of a dead bird in one of the cemetery’s Catholic sections. Tammen believes a coyote or fox had attacked Bud.
“It was pretty horrible,” she said.
Months later, she noticed Blossom often gazing at her reflection on a shiny, black granite sample monument near the office.
“She hung around there a lot,” Tammen said. “She was different, more to herself, and I just thought she needed a partner.”
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A second chance during a second encounter
Tammen posted the Facebook personal ad on Feb. 10, and KCCI News in Des Moines, Iowa, soon aired the story.
Rescue owner Deb Hoyt in Runnells, about 50 miles away from Marshalltown, heard about it through a friend who had seen the broadcast.
“She said they were needing a male goose,” Hoyt told USA TODAY.
She and her husband wanted a new partner for their goose, Frankie, whose mate – a new mother – had also died in an attack.
“In the wintertime, he was really lonely because we weren’t outside very much,” Hoyt said. “He’d stand there all day long.”
The Hoyts were rehoming animals as they prepared for retirement and relocation to Mississippi.
As a nonprofit cemetery, Riverside’s staff declined an offer from a person offering to sell them a goose. The Hoyts offered Frankie for free.
They drove him an hour north to Marshalltown to meet Blossom – but their first encounter didn’t go so well.
The two are now an inseparable pair
The geese owners planned to introduce the geese on Valentine’s Day. After having traveled an hour inside a crate on a pickup, Frankie was “shook up” after being taken to an unfamiliar place, Tammen said.
Hoyt opened the cage near Blossom, and an agitated Frankie flew off.
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“We couldn’t find him that whole afternoon; we were worried sick,” Tammen recalled.
The concerned Hoyts returned home. Tammen called them the next morning with good news: They had found Frankie near a shed.
“I was so thankful,” Hoyt said.
Tammen brought Frankie to Blossom for a second shot at an introduction. It went off without a hitch.
“I’ve literally never seen them apart since he got here,” Tammen said a month after the geese first met. “I do believe Blossom is so much happier now, and I think Frankie is happy, too.”
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