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Deerfield couple’s wild goose chase ends happily for one particular bird

DEERFIELD — Driving north on Interstate 91 in slowed traffic at the start of Tuesday afternoon’s snowstorm, Deerfield residents Jennifer Shafii and her husband, Reza, experienced what she calls “a small miracle.”

The couple were heading from Longmeadow to a meeting in Northampton when they glimpsed an object on the highway through the swirling snowflakes.

“We quickly saw it was a large Canada goose near the entrance ramp, trying to get away from the oncoming cars,” said Shafii, 51, in a phone interview Wednesday. “It was so treacherous. She would waddle a few steps and then lay down in the lane. She was barely being missed by the cars.”

The pair deliberated only a few seconds before leaping into action.

Her husband stopped the car, got out and began directing traffic around the spot where the bird was trapped on the highway. Shafii also got out and began trying to corral the frightened goose into their vehicle.

“I kept saying, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,’” Shafii said. She followed the black and gray bird off the Longmeadow highway ramp onto a patch of ground near Forest Park. Her husband got back in the car to track them, pulling over when he spotted them near a fence.

Finally, Shafii was able to scoop the goose into her arms and trundle her into the front seat of their car.

“Timing was everything,” she said. “It’s amazing we didn’t get hit. But everyone around us cooperated. All the drivers were rooting for us. When we got her into the car, someone yelled out, ‘Good job!’”

The bird didn’t once try to peck them or resist.

“She was shivering with cold and exhausted,” Shafii said. “And Reza had his arms very protectively around her while I drove.”

Not even the presence of the couple’s 2-year-old Boxer, Giuseppe, in the back seat, sparked a reaction. The goose settled calmly on the floor of the front seat, Shafii said. “After a while, she warmed up and started looking around. I just trusted she knew we were trying to help her.”

The couple ended up canceling their 3 p.m. meeting in Northampton, the home of Tiger Press until two years ago. Shafii said the storm had so slowed traffic on I-91 that it took them three hours to get home to Deerfield.

They spent that time — Giuseppe included — happily bonding with the goose in their midst. They decided the bird was likely a female and likely on the young side.

“My theory is she was probably flying with her flock, miscalculated the landing and ended up on the highway,” Shafii said. “We think maybe she’s a younger one who doesn’t have the expertise.”

The couple made one stop at Dave’s Pet Food store in Hadley, where employees helped them find a suitable snack for the goose (duck food, actually) and a dish for water.

Kelsi Watkins, a cashier at the pet supply store, remembers the Shafiis coming in during the late afternoon before the store closed early at 6 p.m. due to the weather.

Was it hard to believe their wild goose tale?

Not at all, Watkins said, when reached by phone Wednesday at Dave’s. “It was snowing so hard, I could believe a goose could have gotten lost in it.”

Shafii said the bird spent the night with a neighbor, Tatiana Koski, who owns a horse farm on River Road in Deerfield and had a warm stall available.

The couple planned to take the bird to an animal rescue expert, who they said asked to remain anonymous. They are hoping the goose can eventually be restored to another wild flock.

Tuesday’s storm rescue was so intense, the Shafiis didn’t have time to name the bird or take pictures of her — something they planned to do Wednesday before transporting her to the rehabilitation site.

The experience isn’t one they’ll forget anytime soon.

“It was an honor, a little miracle,” Shafii said. “Everything was against her surviving. We’re just so grateful she did.”

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