Wacky Animal Stories

Fancy Feet

UPDATED 01/30/1989 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 01/30/1989 at 01:00 AM EST

Take a gander at Andy the footless goose. That's what Gene Fleming did last fall when he stopped in to visit his sister-in-law Donna Mae Schuck's farm in Harvard, Nebr., and came across a sad sight. There was Andy, a 2-year-old gray goose born without feet, hobbling around Schuck's yard on his stumps. Fleming was moved by the plight of the unlucky but plucky fowl. "Because I'm a Shriner," he says, referring to the charitable organization whose mission is to aid crippled children, "my natural instinct, once I saw the goose, was to help him."

So Fleming gave his sister-in-law a more valuable pair of geese in exchange for Andy and Andy's lifetime mate, Polly. Back on his own 91-acre spread in nearby Hastings, the 66-year-old retired businessman and farmer fitted Andy with a pair of size 0 baby shoes. When the $13 white leather shoes lasted only a month, Fleming made the switch to sneakers. As for the steps he took to teach the 40-lb. bird a new way to walk, Fleming sounds like any proud papa. "I held Andy upright for three hours before he figured out what to do with those shoes," says Fleming. "But when he got the hang of them, he just took off. Now he struts around like a peacock."

Loose as a you-know-what, Andy also runs, swims, flies and shows affection for his goose Samaritan. "He knows what I did," says the crafty cobbler, "and I think he's grateful. He's a one-man goose."

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