It is with great sadness that we share the news of Frankie’s recent passing. Frankie the goose was our longest residing patient, and many of you have been following his story on Facebook and Totally Wild with great interest. This post is dedicated to his memory, and the remarkable battle Frankie fought.
Frankie was a domestic goose who, until recently, was thought to be an older hen. He was inherited with a property purchase some years ago, and lived free to roam on a very large country estate with his mate. To his owner’s horror, Frankie was found swimming in the dam with a badly broken leg but it still took four days to catch him. As his owner lived in rural NSW, Frankie was initially stabilised by a local vet prior to transfer up to Brisbane.
Once Frankie arrived here at Brisbane Bird Vet, we found that Frankie’s fractured leg was terribly infected. Despite 4 surgeries and months of intensive care, ultimately Frankie’s left foot had to be amputated. A bird of his weight cannot function with one leg, as there would be severe pressure sores that would develop on the remaining foot and he would be unable to walk. Therefore, we had to get creative in thinking of a solution. We approached some human medical prosthetic companies but they could only offer minor support.
One of our regular clients happened to be an engineer with a keen interest in mechanics and robotics, and after he met Frankie in our hospital and heard of his plight, he very kindly offered to help brainstorm and manufacture a prosthetic leg for Frankie. The trial process took many more months with ongoing design and material tweaking to get the most functional prosthetic that fit our husbandry criteria, and also be comfortable for Frankie to wear. During this time, Frankie was a long term patient here at Brisbane Bird Vet. Staff, clients, patients and Wally got used to a regular honking from his outdoor pen when it was time for Frankie to come in of an evening, and Frankie was happy to sit on his foam mat inside and watch us go about our work.
Some complications that we faced was a lingering infection in Frankie’s stump that would flare up intermittently, and managing a smouldering pressure sore on Frankie’s right foot. We purchased a Jolly Jumper and modified the seat to fit Frankie, which worked wonderfully to reduce the load on Frankie’s right foot during the prosthetic development process.
Over the last couple of weeks we had noted a gradual decline in Frankie’s attitude and demeanour. Frankie was increasingly withdrawn, and less interested in trialling his new artificial leg. We were concerned that Frankie’s internal organs were starting to fail. Frankie passed away suddenly and peacefully one morning while sitting outside in the bright sunshine. An autopsy revealed degenerated organs and (surprisingly) testicles that indicated a very aged bird. As we never knew Frankie’s true age, we suspect that he was very old and this, combined with ongoing infections and the stress of his condition all contributed together to Frankie’s demise.
Frankie was a memorable goose who took everything in his stride. He will be missed by many, including all of us here at Brisbane Bird Vet. Frankie’s journey has taught us all and these lessons will benefit many fellow amputees in the future.