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Wild Goose Chase!

This morning reading the New York Times front page, I did a double-take on the headline:

Fraud Claims Dog Operative

I took this to mean - deceitful practices (e.g. fraud) had claimed a canine operative.  I didn't quite know what this meant - perhaps a dog, who was a secret agent, was undone by someone giving it poison dog treats.

Re-reading the headline, I understood it as intended - fraudulent claims were bothering an operative.

Which begs the question:
Does the term "Wild Goose Chase" imply a chase for a goose that got really crazy and out of hand?  Or does it refer to a relatively mundane chase for an undomesticated goose?  Does the "wild" refer to the goose?  Or the chase?!
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19 comments
 
This is important! Let's Google it!
 
Thank you for my evening chuckle...semantics can be fun...
 
That would definitely be a classic crash blossom. I had the exact same misparse...
 
It is very clear, the dog and the writer of the article, should be jailed for fraud.
 
That goose isn't wild, it's polite.  It's a Canada goose, afterall.
 
Fraudulent dogs aren't all bad.
 
It's obvious! The dog is a secret agent.
 
geese in flight is very difficult to capture and housemartin still on my hit list
 
it's like trying to buy a withdrawl tool for a motorcycle crank and realize nobody's got stock at the weekend
 
If you really want to play around the meaning of the words used how about the street sign, 'Slow Trucks'.  
Should you slow, should they slow are they slow .......?
 
Saying it out loud with the stress either on "wild" or on "goose" would mark the difference, methinks :-)
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