Goose Watches Injured Mate Undergo Surgery Through Window of Wildlife Hospital

August 3, 2021

A loyal Canada goose, concerned for her mate as he underwent surgery, surprised veterinary medics when she showed up at their clinic. Tapping at the glass door, she stayed and watched until her mate woke from his sedation before reuniting with him at the door.

It was a first for staffers at New England Wildlife Center in Cape Cod.

Never before had they seen an animal try to accompany a patient into surgery. And that impelled them to make an exception to their “no visitors” rule.

The patient, a Canada goose dubbed “Arnold,” had lived with his mate of several years at a pond near the facility in Barnstable, Massachusetts.

“They are totally wild and usually keep to themselves when people are around,” Cape Wildlife explained in a Facebook post. “But yesterday our staff noticed that Arnold had developed a significant limp and was continuously falling over.”

The team managed to get the goose inside for a medical exam, identifying two open fractures on his foot.

“This means that the tissue and skin has been pulled away, leaving the bone exposed,” they explained. “Our best guess is that a snapping turtle or other predator attacked him while swimming.”

Hoping to save Arnold’s foot and give him the best odds for a long and comfortable life, the team planned to suture his open wound closed and amputate the damaged toe. Arnold received antibiotics and medication for the pain, and was kept inside, without food, in preparation for surgery.

The following day, as Arnold was about to go under, the team heard a tapping at the door.

“We turned to see that his mate had waddled up onto the porch and was attempting to break into our clinic!” staffers recounted. “She had somehow located him and was agitated that she could not get inside.”

Arnold’s loyal mate kept vigil throughout the procedure, watching the medics work. When Arnold awoke, his wounds closed and dressed, the team made sure to reunite their patient with his mate on the porch outside.

“We opened the door and gave Arnold his flow-by oxygen in the doorway,” they explained. “His mate immediately calmed down and began to groom him through the door.”

Both geese, they noted, were visibly comforted by one another’s presence.

With ongoing treatment, the team at Cape Wildlife expect Arnold to heal well. He will be spending a few weeks in the sterile surrounds of the animal hospital before he can join his mate at the pond.

The care team plan to perform all treatments and bandage changes in front of the doorway so the Mrs. can check in on her feathered flame.

“We will do our best to get him back out quickly,” they promised.

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