ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) – Forrest the duck was born with deformities in his legs that caused him to walk pigeon-toed, but his owners weren’t concerned until the young duck’s right leg went limp one day.
Cathy Gist, Forrest’s owner, said she was picking him up out of the pool, as she does for her pet daily, when his weight fell on his leg in a weird way. Once his leg remained limp overnight, Gist took Forrest to VCA Northwood Animal Hospital in hopes the veterinarians who have cared for her dachshunds could help.
Dr. Russell Mejeur, one of the veterinarians, said he doesn’t perform orthopedic surgeries often, let alone on ducks, but Forrest’s friendly attitude and young age convinced him to perform the surgery.
“It was something we could do to help this 21-week-old duck,” he said. “An opportunity to learn while trying to help is a nice thing to do. I can’t do it all the time, but when it’s something like that, it’s different.”
Mejeur and another surgeon, who had not performed surgery on a duck before, were successful in the surgery nearly two months ago. Because ducks only have one bone in each leg, surgery was the only way to repair the injury.
When Gist took Forrest to the hospital, she thought she might have to have him euthanized because of the cost of surgery. Since it was a learning experience, the surgery was discounted, and Forrest is able to keep waddling around the farm.
Following the surgery, Forrest had a pin going through his bone and a couple of pins outside of the bone to help stabilize the break. He had an acrylic tube on the outside of his leg to hold the pins in place.
Mejeur said a bad part for Forrest in his recovery was that the duck had to stay out of the water while the pins were in his leg. More than that, Gist said the worst part of Forrest’s recovery was keeping him away from his best friend, a Mallard duck named Jenny, and the several hens that hang out with the ducks on the farm.
Gist said she had not owned ducks as pets before this year, but Forrest in particular seems to have the temperament of a child when it comes to certain situations. Gist had a hard time getting Forrest to take his medication because he wouldn’t eat with any frequency until he was reunited with Jenny.
“It was the hardest,” she said. “But it was worth it.”
Forrest and Jenny are inseparable, Gist said. The two frequently swim in a kiddie pool together and even play ball at times, tapping a small ball back and forth with their beaks.
Now that his leg is healed, Forrest is back to having fun with his feathered friends, and Gist is still amazed that, even though she’s taken her pets to VCA Northwood Hospital for a long time, they cared enough about Forrest to do the surgery.
“I was ecstatic,” Gist said. “By that time, we were already attached to him and loved it very much.”