For quite a while after we got the geese, Desdemona would lay eggs but showed no interest in sitting on them.   We were kind of hoping they would produce a gosling, so we were very excited when at last, she built a nest, laid a single egg, and sat on it faithfully.  I often sat next to her and petted her while she sat on the egg, which she seemed to enjoy.

Right on schedule, the egg hatched.  Chris was the first to notice, and he ran inside to get me.  Our excitement was short-lived, however, once we got a good look at the baby.  The poor little thing had been born with no skin or muscle from the neck down to the abdomen and obviously could not survive.  We had no choice but to put him down.

Thankfully, Desdemona didn't even seem to realize she had a baby, probably because he didn't behave like a normal gosling and didn't make the right noises.  

In retrospect, we believe Lysander and Desdemona may have been brother or sister or otherwise closely related.  We have no history on the group of geese they came from, so it is possible they'd been inbreeding for some time, which could explain the deformity.


During the spring/early summer of 1998, Desdemona was suddenly unable to walk.  She continued to eat normally if we brought food to her and showed no other signs of illness.  We took her to the vet and she was hospitalized for a couple of days while bloodwork was done, but the tests showed no problems and she still refused to walk.

We took her home and did some physical therapy: a couple of times each day, we put her in the goose swimming pool and encouraged her to use her legs.  Over several weeks, she gradually began to walk again and returned to her normal self, much to our delight. 

I went on a business trip in October of 1998 and while I was away, she again showed signs of weakness.  Chris kept an eye on her, and noticed that this time, she was also having trouble laying an egg, so he helped her with that.  That night, though, he was awakened in the early hours of the morning by Lysander shrieking frantically and when he went outside to see what was wrong, he found that Desdemona had collapsed and died.  She was only two years old.

We never knew what killed her, though afterward I heard two other stories involving geese with similar symptoms.  I believe the egg-binding (difficulty laying) was the result of another illness, rather than the cause of death.