Ruth and the Goose, From the Archives

D. E. Larsen, DVM

“Doctor doesn’t generally work of birds,” Sandy said to the lady on the phone. “He does make exceptions at times when it is a farm bird and not a pet. I hear you call this goose a pet.”

“I only called it a pet because that is how my husband treats it,” Sharon replied. “It is the only goose we have. It lives in the barnyard and herds the chickens around all day. He acts like he is the chicken leader.”

“Let me go ask the doctor before you come all the way from Brownsville to have him say no,” Sandy said as she laid the receiver down.

“I am talking with a lady with a pet goose. It lives in the barnyard. It has a large laceration on its chest. She is wondering if you will take care of it?” Sandy asked.

“If she understands that I treat farm birds like food animals, not like pets, I will take care of it,” I said.

Sandy scheduled the appointment, and everyone waited in anticipation for the arrival of the barnyard goose.

When Sharon arrived, the parking lot was packed, and the clinic reception area had no room, filled with clients and their pets. I was busy in the exam room, but Sandy popped in and said, “You have to come to look at this.”

I stepped out front, and everyone in the waiting room was standing and watching Sharon leading the goose down the street and across the parking lot. She had a baling twine tied around the goose’s neck, and the goose was waddling along like a dog on a leash.

As soon as the goose came through the door, chaos erupted in the reception room. The goose spread his wings and charged at the german shepherd pup, trying to crawl under the owner’s chair to escape the charge. The cat in its carrier on Rosemary’s lap was puffed up and hissing at the goose.

Ruth was quick to lead Sharon and her goose back to the surgery room, the only unoccupied space at the time.

When I finally had a few minutes to look at Timmy, the goose, everything in the clinic had settled down. Timmy had a long laceration on the right side of his breast. It was through the skin and extended into the muscle about a half on an inch deep.

“Wow, how did this happen?” I asked.

“We have no idea. My husband noticed it when he was feeding the chickens this morning,” Sharon said.

“We need to get Timmy under an anesthetic and clean up this wound and close it. Things should go well. Birds have a high body temperature, so superficial infections are not common following wound closure. He will just have a bare patch on his chest for a time. We’ll do this right away. I’ll have to work him in between patients, and he will have to stay until he recovers from anesthesia. Still, we should be able to send him home early this afternoon.”

As Sharon gave Timmy a kiss on his beak, I drew up a dose of ketamine for anesthesia to give as soon as she left.

“I am going to give him an injection of ketamine. This should allow us time to close the wound and have him wake up pretty quickly,” I said to Ruth.

“How quick is this going to take effect?” Ruth asked.

“It will take a few minutes. I am going to finish up in the exam room, and then I will be back. It should only take a few minutes to close this wound.”

With that, I left Ruth, a short, petite gal, holding a large goose on the surgery table. 

I hurried through the vaccination on Rosemary’s cat, Whiskers.

“Are you going to be able to take care of that poor goose?” Rosemary asked as we returned Whiskers to his kennel.

“Oh yes, he should be asleep shortly.”

All of a sudden, there was a terrible ruckus coming from the surgery room. Timmy was squawking, and we could hear his wings flapping.

“Excuse me, Rosemary. Sandy can check you out. I think Ruth needs a hand.”

I rushed to the surgery room. There was Ruth, desperately trying to hold onto Timmy. Timmy was flapping his wings wildly and squawking at the same time. I quickly grabbed him and got his wings under control. Ruth and I held him for a moment, and he drifted off into a deep slumber.

“What caused that?” Ruth asked. “He was fine and then just sort of exploded.”

“Just an excitement phase of anesthesia,” I said. “It is common with all anesthetics. We just don’t see it because what we generally use has such a rapid induction. I haven’t seen it with ketamine before, but then, how many geese have we had in this surgery room.”

With Timmy under anesthesia, we plucked the feathers around the wound and scrubbed the area with Betadine Surgical Scrub. After cleaning the wound with a vigorous flush, I sutured the heavy fascia covering the muscle layer with a continuous suture of Dexon. Then closed the skin with a buried subcuticular suture, also with Dexon.

With Timmy in a kennel to wake up, we thought the day’s excitement was over. That was until the girls were discharging one of the morning surgeries cases. The young dog freaked out when he was lead past the kennel with a goose flopping about a little. That just made the pup jump about a bit.


“Sharon, Timmy is all fixed up,” I said as Sharon returned to retrieve Timmy. “He is going to have a bald patch on his chest until he grows some new feathers, but that shouldn’t bother him much.”

“No, I don’t think he will care,” Sharon said. “Can he walk?”

“Yes, he is wide awake. We had a little struggle with him as he was going to sleep, but he recovered with no problems. He can walk out of here now. And it is probably a good time since there are no dogs.”

“He doesn’t like most dogs, and he is pretty protective of his barnyard. He sends our little house dog packing every time he strays too close.”

Sharon tied a twine around Timmy’s neck, and he hopped out of the kennel. He waddled out out the door on his leash, like he knew where he was heading.

Photo by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

4 thoughts on “Ruth and the Goose, From the Archives

      1. They are all great stories, Doc, though some are more memorable than others. Maybe it was Sharon kissing Timmy on the beak. With geese, that is a good way to get one’s lips bitten off. 🙂


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