I wrote this narrative for Rechelle Schimke’s English 101 class. It is about my experience working with a sick duckling. I raised seven ducklings during the pandemic and was amazed by how each duckling impacted me: this is Mr. Gossie’s story.
A small duckling sat alone from his siblings. A huge hand came down from the heavens and scoops up the little duckling. I carefully inspect the little duckling I call Gossie. I notice a swollen toe on his left foot. I immediately sprang into action; I traced his foot on cardboard and made a small brace. After wrapping up Gossie’s pink foot, he was put in his own box in the brooder. The lonely little duckling sat in isolation listening to his siblings on the other side of the wall. Over the next forty-eight hours, Gossie stayed at the same weight-which was extremely concerning.
That night, I slept in the garage waking up every few hours to hand-feed Gossie. I woke to the blaring of my alarm; got up and picked up Gossie; wrapping him in a washcloth and giving him food and water through a pipette. The little duckling did not want to eat. I put a drop of water on his bill, which seemed to make him happy. I did the same with his oatmeal. Slowly, Gossie began to eat. During each of these shifts, I would weigh him and hope that he would continue to grow. By morning I was exhausted; I did my chores-at record low speeds-and began my school day. During my breaks, I would unwrap Gossie’s foot and give him a bath so the muscles in his foot and leg would continue to develop.
I would give him about twenty minutes per day to practice walking. A few steps at a time, little Gossie would walk before laying down again to rest while the rest of his siblings would frolic around him. One day everything seemed to get worse. When giving Gossie food: he refused to eat, and his weight began to decrease slightly. That night I didn’t sleep at all. I spent the night cradling Gossie and offering him food and water. In the morning I had to go to school and had to leave Gossie alone. The whole school day I thought about him and worried-but by the time I returned, one of Gossie’s siblings had jumped into the infirmary. The two ducklings perked up when I walked into the room. Ever since that day, Gossie continued to grow.
I let him spend the rest of his time in his splints with his siblings. The other ducklings would be rotating spending time with him. I continued to hand feed him and give him physical therapy. Furthermore, the little duckling grew and grew. With support from his other siblings, Gossie continued to develop and when the splints officially came off, he was able to keep up with his siblings. They loved to run around the yard and Gossie would always be very concerned when he was separated from his siblings. He would yell to them from wherever he was until he spotted them then would run full force until he reached them. This bond was unbreakable and amazing to see.
These ducks truly were a family and even if they got mad at each other they would never leave each other behind. They really are the best of friends and never get sick of each other. They share each other’s highs and lows and are always willing to hang out. And I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of it. I love so to see the ducks every day and they follow me around wherever I go, they really did imprint on me. But they also taught me something that a true friend will never get bored of you and will never want to leave your side. I am so grateful to be a part of their flock so while I’m hand-feeding Gossie treats every day I think of the little duckling that I stayed up all night with and proved to him that I too could be a good friend.