The Story of Joey Goose

On Monday, February 13, 2017, Joey goose passed away at the veterinarian’s office. His passing was quite a surprise and definitely caught us off guard.

joey goose

On Thursday he seemed his usual self. He had fun breaking in my new rain boots by testing their nibble tolerance.

On Friday he seemed fine as well, but he didn’t eat all his dinner, so I made a point to watch him closely on Saturday. (Ignore the mating dorks in the foreground).

On Saturday, Joey got up normally with his posse of ducks and ran out of the aviary, honking as he usually does. He swam and played and nibbled at the grass, but he didn’t eat much. I brought him romaine lettuces, which he usually loves, and he just mouthed at them. So I called the vet and made an appointment for Monday morning, just in case he didn’t bounce back on his own. Then I went and bought him some of his favorite no-salt top saltine crackers. When he wouldn’t eat a saltine, I knew something was definitely wrong. He was calm and talkative, and he let me bring him into the house and set him in a playpen for the night. All day Sunday he continued to decline. I was in a panic trying to figure out what was happening. Did he eat something bad? Does he have something stuck in his crop? Is it an infection? Is his digestive system blocked? When the vet’s office opened on Monday we rushed him in. I carried him into the back office area and we set him up in a bank cage/pen on some towels so they could prep an IV. He passed away before they even got a chance to evaluate him.

It was such a SHOCK to see him decline and pass that quickly. But birds are experts at hiding their symptoms. I requested an autopsy which took place this morning, Tuesday, February 14th. While it wasn’t conclusive, it did rule out many things. Joey didn’t have a blockage of any kind. He hadn’t eaten any foreign material or metal. Joey didn’t have inflammation or signs of cancer. He didn’t show signs of a contagious disease that might affect the rest of the flock. The only clue was that his liver was small and hardened. That implies that he might have had long-term liver disease, which is unfortunately very common in domestic birds and very difficult to notice early. It’s also not very treatable, since it isn’t usually noticed early on. It just happens. Joey did spend several years at area parks before his rescue, where he was fed mostly bread. That diet could have contributed to liver problems, even though he had a good diet in his last two years. We also don’t know how old he is, but have heard he spent “many years” at an area park.

Back in October, I rushed him to the vet when he was stumbling a bit. I felt like he was really “off” then, but his blood work and exam didn’t show anything obvious, and he recovered on his own. In retrospect, it’s possible those symptoms were also liver disease. We won’t ever know for certain, but it seemed to be a natural death process over several days for him, and we ruled out an acute event like a blocked digestive tract or a wound or such.

So he’s just… gone. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. If I know a flock member is going to pass naturally, as Petunia did of old age, it is often quite peaceful. But when a kid like Joey, who I have no reason to suspect is ill, is suddenly declining, it makes me frantic. On the plus side, Joey seemed at peace and comfortable. I just didn’t know what was going on, and didn’t expect it, so it was pretty traumatic. Late Sunday night to Monday morning, I started to feel it was too late to save him. I got up at 1am and drove around, trying to rack my brain and figure out what was happening to him. It breaks my heart to see him go when I thought he’d be around for years to come. But that’s just how it goes sometimes. It’s almost 2-years to the DAY of his rescue, so we’ll try to pull it together and share his wonderful life now, instead of dwelling on his death. I’m still in shock and miss him terribly, but he deserves a proper farewell.

This is the story of Joey goose.

We first met Joey in February 2015. He had been shot along with dozens of other wild and domestic birds at a family rescue pond in Orem where he lived. Here’s a video of Joey with his buddy Lumpy after he was caught and held for rescue:

He was bonded with a Chinese goose and many people believed them to be a couple. They were known as Romeo and Juliet, or Lumpy and Penny. For years, many people thought Joey was a girl (Juliet/Penny). He was dumped at Wheeler farm years previously and Lumpy the Chinese goose became his buddy. They were mistaken for a couple because Joey LOVED to help raise other birds’ ducklings and goslings each spring. We heard conflicting reports that Joey was originally dumped at Decker Lake before being moved to Wheeler Farm. Eventually he was moved to Clegg Pond where he and so many others were shot. Here’s a news story from that time:

Joey had been shot six times with lead pellets. He had pellet fragments in his face, tongue, wing, chest, tail and leg.

He looked terrible when he arrived, but a few days after surgery to clean up his face and tongue and remove the pellet from his leg, he stabilized and started to improve.

The pellet removed from Joey’s leg damaged his tendon, and he had a previous broken toe injury that made it hard for him to walk.

He sat through twice-daily physical therapy for four months until he could finally walk well.

He wasn’t too friendly when he arrived, but after 240 physical therapy sessions, he couldn’t help but start to like me a bit.

I think he even started to enjoy physical therapy.

Once Joey’s leg had recovered enough for him to get around well, he quickly rose to head of the flock.

He then appointed himself as Chief Security Officer, or “Mall Cop.”

It was a job he took very seriously. His responsibilities included making sure he knew where everyone was at all times. Making sure no one went anywhere he didn’t approve of, and sometimes beak punching ducks or chickens if they misbehaved.

It was a lot of responsibility, but Joey was a natural leader.

Mall Cop ran a tight ship, and everybody knew better than to cross him.

Sometimes even the people needed a beak punch to keep her in line.

Okay, a lot of times.

But I knew Joey loved me.

Eventually he would sit with me on the hammock and let me pet his neck ruffles.

And eventually he didn’t have to beak punch me anymore to keep me in line. Maybe just a little tap now and then.

Joey would listen closely as I told him what a brave and wonderful goose he was, what a responsible and capable mall cop. I would lean in and whisper to him “I love you, big goose.”

As mentioned before, Joey loved to raise ducklings. He would protect them from the rest of the flock and keep them safe. Sometimes he even tried to keep them safe from ME, and he would get VERY ANGRY if I would take them away to put them to bed in the house pen. Joey would HONK OUT LOUDLY IN DISAPPROVAL! “THE PEOPLE HAS TAKEN MY DUCKLINGS THAT ARE RIGHTFULLY MINE AND NOT HERS!” When the next morning came and he saw his ducklings again, all would be forgiven.

In just the past year, Joey goose helped raise JJ the mallard, Steve & Eydie, Charlie girl and Libby ducks.

The only thing Joey liked as much as raising ducklings was crackers.

Lettuces are great and part of a balanced goose diet.

But the rare treat of a single cracker really made him smile.

Joey goose was not a rescue we were expecting, but he was a wonderful surprise.

Through the years, many people have loved him by many names, from Penny and Juliet to Pumpkin and now Joey.

He touched a lot of hearts with his big personality, and I know a lot of people will miss him.

He was a beautiful, sweet, bossy, silly soul and I just hate to see him go.

While it’s difficult to say goodbye, I’m also grateful to have had to chance to know Joey and care for him over the past two years.

His big personality will be so missed here at Ducks and Clucks.

Rest in peace, my boy Joey. I love you, kid.

14. February 2017 by Silly Human
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