CEDAR RAPIDS Charlie is no cooked goose.
While many of his buddies have flown south for the winter or are on the way, he'll enjoy the cold weather with fellow rescued Canada geese on a pond in Cedar Falls where there's no danger he'll become someone's Thanksgiving meal.
Charlie wasn't always so lucky. He spent the summer hobbling around with a broken wing at Airport National Golf Course south of Cedar Rapids. A later examination showed his wing had been damaged beyond repair by blunt force trauma possibly caused by a golf club. We'll never know.
But, watching Charlie thump around with a broken wing saddened golfer Dennis Blome, former Linn County Sheriff and U.S. Marshal.
"I didn't want it to suffer," Dennis said. "I didn't want to see something happen to an old goose."
So, Dennis made a few calls with no luck. Then, as he volunteered at St. Luke's Hospital, he ran into Jan Erceg, an ambulance paramedic who also happens to love animals. She volunteers at the Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control shelter and is a member of Critter Crusaders.
"I could see his concern and frustration as he related the story to me," Jan wrote in her latest Critter Crusaders newsletter
So, Jan used her connections to send folks on a wild-goose chase last month at Airport National. Solon veterinarian Jenni Doll and her husband, Torben Platt, who own Witty Kitties, a sanctuary for cats and reptiles, dove in. For, in a crazy and somewhat humorous chase, Torben leapt into a cold pond and chased Charlie out where Jenni grabbed him as he'd tried to escape into the woods.
Silly goose. He didn't know these people were trying to save his life.
"We got Charlie home," Jenni wrote in her Witty Kitties newsletter. "He was mad as heck, pecking and flapping. His wing was obviously broken high on the humorous. The firm swelling and looseness of the site indicated it had tried to heal without success."
The next day, radiographs at Bright Eyes and Bushy Tails in Iowa City revealed multiple fractures. The broken wing was a site for potential infection. The only choice was to amputate.
Jenni anesthetized Charlie, removed feathers and completed the tricky procedure. After a week of healing, she put him into a dog carrier for the journey to Linda Nebbe's wildlife sanctuary in Cedar Falls where many animals through the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project have temporary or permanent homes.
Reluctant at first, Charlie joined similarly flightless geese at the aerated pond. He dunked his head time and again. In no time, Charlie had taken to the water like, well, a goose should.