DaDane of DaWeek

Voted Out!!!

Last week I told you all about our "problem" swan, Mr. Big. (If you missed the story, click here.) I received a lot of feedback from everyone. An overwhelming number of you told me in no uncertain terms that Mr. Big must go. Some of you were more vocal than others. This note was particularly emphatic:


Take back your acreage! This is YOUR home, YOUR pond, YOUR dock. And let's not forget who was there first — your family, including your precious Great Danes. I love animals too, but after having dealt with a dog who, too, had a serious aggression problem, I can honestly say life can and would be better without them. You cannot put yourselves in danger any longer. It's obvious that a warm, fuzzy, loving relationship with this swan isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future.

My vote is to take him out of the game of life, and don't feel guilty either. Are you going to let a swan run, or should that be ruin, your daily existence? I don't think so! By the way, I couldn't cook him either. I would think that by the way he lives his life, Mr. Big would have a sour, bitter taste to him, no matter what seasoning was used!!

Sometimes I think we just have to admit that not all God's creatures are sweet, cuddly or lovable; in fact some of them are downright nasty and obnoxious. Life is too short to try to make yourself believe that he will change. Please do the right thing, right now... end his misery-creating life, before he goes after his own cygnets. Another way to look at it: there's ONE of him, and SEVERAL of you (dogs, people, etc.) In a democracy, you go for the good of the majority. Case closed.

Others held similar opinions, such as: "Pet or not, enjoy him next Thanksgiving or donate him to Purina for cat chow," "I vote for the swan fricassee" or "I wouldn't put up with the Evil Mr. Big for another minute!" Someone offered a more tolerant suggestion: "Maybe you could soak his corn in Prozac?"

Here's a message I found especially amusing:


I hope you find a home for him. I am sure since he has been around so long you would have trouble eating him. It reminds me of a goose we had. We called him "Supper" because we planned to eat him. However, he imprinted on us and came running to us screaming when we drove up to the farm. He followed us around as we did chores. The other geese would go after him, so we decided to teach him to be aggressive. My husband would run at the other geese with his arms spread out like wings and Supper would run right behind with his wings spread. But when he got close to the other geese he would hide behind my husband's legs. Needless to say there was no way Supper could become supper. Good luck with Mr. Big!

Rest assured, we are not going to eat Mr. Big. I decided to pursue the idea of neutering him. I found a veterinarian who is well-known for his work with exotics. He said that the surgery is risky business and he recommended against it. He explained that Mr. Big's "swan-making equipment" is located way up inside him, close to the kidney and dangerously close to his main artery. The veterinarian told me he recently lost a peacock on the operating table during a similar neutering surgery.

Seeking a second opinion, I spoke with a zoo curator. He told me that after 30+ years in the zoo business, his experience has been that neutering will have no effect on aggressive behavior — unless the swan is neutered as an infant. He said once the pattern has been set, it won't go away. The curator warned me, "When breeding season comes along next year, Mr. Big will be just as insufferable. Get rid of him now. For that matter, get rid of all of them!" He said he wouldn't tolerate for a minute what we've been putting up with for the past few months. He suggested I put an ad in our state's Farm Bulletin. He said, "Don't push your luck... advertise them free to a good home. Get rid of them as fast as you can!!" He also told me that most swans have difficult temperaments and the best swan species to keep as pets are Coscorobas and Black-necks, both of which are small and relatively docile.

Well, I decided to take the zoo curator's advice. I ordered a subscription to the Farm Bulletin, which comes out twice a month. As soon as I get a feel for the publication, I will run an ad and try to sell them to a breeder who has plenty of experience with swans. I'll let you know how things work out. Meanwhile, Mr. Big's attitude has not changed. Right now I am gazing out the window of my studio to watch Mr. Big. For the last half hour he's been chasing our tractor up and down the pasture as my husband does the mowing. (If only he'd jump in front of it...)

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