Help Frankie the Duck so he can Walk!
$330 raised
33% of $1k goal
11 contributors
5 Years running
We live in Austin, Texas and we have 1 dog, 2 cats, and a funky chicken coop full of chickens. We enjoy our pet chickens for the eggs, entertainment, and closeness to nature that they bring us. On July, 2012, a trip to the feed store introduced us ...
We live in Austin, Texas and we have 1 dog, 2 cats, and a funky chicken coop full of chickens. We enjoy our pet chickens for the eggs, entertainment, and closeness to nature that they bring us. On July, 2012, a trip to the feed store introduced us to this little duckling, who we have named "Frankie", sitting in a small dark cage all by himself. I spoke to him and he talked back to me and tried to waddle in my direction - but I could tell right away that something was wrong with his leg. The man working in the chick room took him out for me and I cuddled him for a long time - I didn't know ducks were so cuddly! We put him on the floor to see if he could walk - and his right leg stuck way out to the right and it was obvious that he could not. The man hadn't noticed that before. So, long story short, I took Frankie home to see if I could give him a better life than he would have if someone else took him home. My husband said it was OK as long as I didn't rack up a bunch of vet bills - I told him I would try to heal him myself.

Frankie is a great swimmer - he loves our small backyard pond with the trickling waterfall and the goldfish that nibble at his toes. He also loves to swim in a metal roasting pot and the bathtub - pretty much anywhere is fine with him. He mostly swims with his left leg, but I can see his right leg moving slightly and steering him so that he doesn't swim in circles. In the water he is totally fluid - and moves like a duck should - reaching his little head under the water to grab yummy morsels and splashing water on his back. But, when he comes out of the water, he is very still. She mostly sits in one place, but can scuttle around a bit to get closer to food or to the door of the cage in the morning when I come to get him.

He's very happy as long as we're with him. He makes a sweet "pip pip" sound when he can see or hear us. But, when we leave him, he calls out in a more worried tone - maybe because he feels so helpless and vulnerable.

I have done tons of research online about what could be wrong. My first guess was "Splayed Leg" which happens when a chick is young and either doesn't have the right nutrition, or is hatched in a place that has a slippery floor, causing the legs to slide out to the side and stay there. I tried the usual remedies for splayed leg, which consist of gently binding the legs together with a bandaid to bring them back into alignment with the body. It may have helped slightly, but Frankie still isn't walking. I have spoken with a few vets over the phone and even met with one who specializes in Avian medicine. He thinks that Frankie's leg bone is curved - thus making it hard for him to walk. She said the best way to help him is to fracture his leg bone in two places and re-set it straight by casting - but that will be an expensive procedure.

I also called Texas A&M's Poultry Science Department, the Travis County Extension Service, and Wildlife Rescue - but was unable to get help from any of those resources. In the meantime, I made a makeshift therapy device out of a t-shirt that suspends him slightly in the air so he can "walk". He does make the motions when we do this, and you can tell he wants to walk, but I'm not sure it is enough, and I want to act quickly to give him the best chance to recover.

Everyone loves this little duck. The folks at the vet clinic were ooohhing and aaahhing over him - and wanting to hold him. All of my friends (and their daughters) fight over who is going to hold him next.

We've all heard the story about the dolphin who didn't have a tail, then a researcher spent energy and time designing one that could help it swim. They even made a movie out of it! I wanted to get Frankie's story out there to see if there's anyone who specializes in this area that could help. Perhaps a Veterinary Orthopedic doctor that could give us advice on how best to help her walk - or what surgery would make the most difference. We're hoping to get some donations to pay for Surgery or Therapy, or find a Vet willing to do pro-bono work if a surgery is the only way to help. Believe me, I'm not in it for the money - I just want to help this little duckling have a normal life. He'd love living in our crazy chicken coop - and he'd have lots of compadres there. But, if he can't learn to walk - he'll probably be stuck in the little cage in the garage where he sleeps right now - and I would hate that.
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