Friday, June 01, 2007

I am going to attempt to begin blogging again. I have been stable on meds now for about 8 weeks and if this continues, I will be happier than a pig in mud.

Geese, Goslings and Anatomy Oh My!!

Outside my office, is a huge pond. I have worked there for 7 years now and have watched every January as the same pair of geese come back and begin finding and preparing a nest. I have watched them use a huge clump of pampas grass (ouch). I have watched them use a big planter that has long ago given up the ghost for whatever plant had lived in it. Usually, wherever they make their nest, there is no "roof". By March, they are sitting and by late April or early May, there are goslings galore!

This pair of geese knows me. I personally think all animals "know" an animal person, but these two definitely know me. I am always the first person in the parking lot of our office complex. The geese recognize my car. They know it is time for breakfast when I drive in. I have often wondered if they wait expectantly for me on the weekends and if so how long before they give up and call me bad words.

This time, the pair hatched out 5 babies. That is pretty much average for these two. If you have never watched geese live out their lives, allow me to fill you in on some things I didn't know before I went to work there.

Someone, be it the Mr or the Mrs, is always sitting on those eggs. If it rains, or storms, someone is always sitting on those eggs. If it turns out like this year, and we have a really cold spell surprise us in the middle of spring, someone will be sitting on those eggs.

In case I haven't mentioned it, someone is sitting on those eggs 24-7. They take turns. The female does the majority of the sitting, but a couple of times a day she will get off the nest and get in the pond and splash around and find her something to eat and he will sit while she is gone.

Mr and Mrs are also very, very territorial. Very territorial. If another pair of geese even come flying in as if to "think" about landing on the pond, they start honking and hollering and will run the trespassing pair off. Same for any ducks that might get too close, although they will allow the ducks to live on the pond, just not near the nest. The other geese on the other hand...NO HOW NO WAY are the staying anywhere on the property. That’s just the rules.

Usually each year, they will hatch between 4 and 7 goslings. Generally I have noticed they will lose one or two, usually to the mean, humongous, gross turtles that live in the pond. I mean these monsters are probably 80 pounds. The kind I used to watch my grandfather cook. I have actually seen them be snatched and pulled under the water never to be seen again by the turtles. Horrible to see and there is absolutely nothing you can do when it happens. Mr and Mrs get all loud and scurry the remaining babies away to shallower water where the turtles are less likely to hang out, but for that one it is too late.

I have also come driving up in the mornings and see the entire family just pecking away at the white line on the 4 lane hiway we're located on. I hear the horns honking and I just wait to hear a horrible noise. When I drive up if I see the on the roads edge, I just sit on my horn. Mostly they just ignore me.

Today, I noticed there were only 3 babies with the parents. They are a little old now - if any are going to die they usually do so before they get this old, so I was surprised. Later on in the day, I saw the 4th gosling. He was honking and swimming furiously towards his family. Something was wrong though. Mr and Mrs would not let him get close. They were actually hissing at him and chasing him off, like they do the trespassers. I walked out to get a better look at him.

He was barely swimming, and he was dragging his right leg behind him. He tried and tried to get back to his family, to get back in line with the other funny looking teenagers, but again his parents ran him off hatefully (in my opinion).

I was heartbroken. I have always been a sucker for the underdog, and this was one if I had ever seen one. He was perfectly healthy just yesterday. They had come up and ate both times yesterday when I fed them.

They always eat out of my hand. They hiss at strangers, even at the two men who work in the office with me, but they eat out of my hand. If I sit down on the ground, the babies will actually crawl in my lap. I have watched the men go all the way around the long way to get to the door because the parents will stand there and hiss at them and threaten them when the babies are young but they have always been very cordial to me. They know from whence forth their vanilla wafers come!

When I got off work this afternoon, I went looking for the injured baby. I soon found him, lying by the bank, his leg laid out behind him. His family no where in sight. No way was I going to leave that baby there to be eaten or starve over the weekend, so I just grabbed him up and wrapped him in a towel I keep in the boot of my car for just such occasions.

He was obviously in pain. I hated to hurt him, but if I left him there he would just die...alone. All the way home, every time I turned a corner or put on the brake, he would honk in pain. We were both in tears by time we got home.

All the way home I was thinking what my plan of action would be. Clean the wounds - by now I was able to see something had grabbed him on the leg in two different places. One up near his hiny where his leg was attached and the webbed part of his foot, where he was missing one "toe" and another was hanging on by a thread. I decided to try to medicate him for pain before trying to clean him, so guessing (there was NOTHING on Google about medicating an injured duck) I decided to try some liquid Tylenol PM.

I drew up about 1 tsp into a syringe (again bought for just such occasions as this - and yes I do pull over and get out to help turtles cross the road) and proceeded to open his beak and insert it in the side and pushed about 1/4th in. He immediately being choking and gasping. At once I realized what I must have done. I didn't stop to think about the anatomy being different than that of other small animals I had saved. It never once occurred to me I might be pushing it into his lungs or his trachea, but obviously that is exactly what I had done. He was dead within a minute and a half. Died right there in my arms.

Would he have died had I not caused him to aspirate the medicine? Probably. Would he have suffered or starved to death? Maybe. Could I possibly feel any more like shit than I do? Definitely not.


Artemis said...

I've been thinking about you and was going to sent an email to check up -- I'm glad to see you're back! I love this time of year, when duckings and goslings abound -- keep us posted of how yours do!

Hang in there!

Artemis said...

I just re-read your post -- boy am I a schmuck. I didn't read the ending carefully enough yesterday, but was too excited to see you back and blogging. I don't think you did anything wrong regarding the gosling, but were acting in the best interest of him. Obviously, the attack was going to do him in -- I don't think that he necessarily aspirated the medication, but may just have reached the end of his limits. Please delete my first (asinine!) comment, and know that my thoughts are with you. (I'm still glad you're back!)

Surgeon in my dreams said...

Ohhhhh Artemis Schmuck...we all knew what you meant! I still have the others three little bittys at work to take care of. They're doing well today. They are at that age where they look like long and gangly teenagers - just this side of being "plumb urgly".

I have gotten involved with NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill)- I'll send you an email tomorrow filling you in.

Surgeon In My Dreams