Yesterday marked four weeks from the day I splinted the broken thigh of my Pilgrim gander, Andy. He first got to his feet, very briefly, a week after the injury, but he put no weight on the bad leg. He held it off to the side like someone holding a crumpled Kleenex.
However most of the time he lay without moving. I checked the taped leg regularly for circulation. It seemed warm enough but entirely limp. I wondered if I should take off the splint and make a better one. (Naturally, too late, I’d ordered the proper supplies for my medical cabinet.) I decided the bone must have started to knit in the current position and I would only increase his pain by fussing with it.
Andy was definitely in pain. He refused to eat. I tempted him with everything I could think of. Cracked corn and scratch. Hulled sunflower seeds. Shredded lettuce. Not a nibble.
Thus for weeks I force-fed him with a tube down his throat to his stomach twice a day (three times on weekends).
Each day I made a slurry of raw egg, soaked pellets, and baby vitamins. This thick mixture was difficult to force through the small nozzle of the giant catheter tube — which had to be held in my teeth while my knees pinned his wings to his body and my hands pried his beak open — and frequently both Andy and I were splattered.
I was sick, coughing, exhausted, and running around dealing with broken-down vehicles and house problems. I wondered if I had done the right thing trying to save him. Was I prolonging pointless suffering? I broke out the ice and changed his water every day, but he did not touch his food. Still, as days went by, I thought he might be getting stronger. He seemed to object more strenuously to the tube-feeding, biting my fingers.
At last, on day nineteen, he ate! I leaned against the lambing stall, smiling. “Hey, buddy! Good job!”
After that his progress was rapid. After weeks of hardly shifting position, he now regularly stood up and tried to hop around the little enclosure, holding his wings out for balance.
Yesterday morning, at four weeks, I cut off the cast and bandages and let Andy rejoin his harem in the sheep stall for the day. There was great honking, flapping, and rejoicing.
In the photo above, the leg in front is the bad one. He can stand on it squarely. I am thrilled.
He does limp, which gives him a rolling gait, and he is easily tired. However, tired is better than dead.
After his long, dull month in Intensive Care, Andy spent most of yesterday visiting water buckets and happily preening.
I have a lot of rescue failures; I just don’t tend to write about them. I am very pleased and grateful that one of the rare successes was this old fool gander of whom I am so fond.