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By Brett Hickman
Southsider Voice columnist
Chances are, you’ve never heard about a special-needs duckling – until now.
Meet Topper the duck along with his care-provider Lisa Clements Guckelberg, a Southport graduate, who began caring for him shortly after hatching. Topper is a White Pekin duck who hatched on July 24 and was later shipped to Tractor Supply Company with a peculiar curl of his head and neck.
“The cause of his condition is unknown, whether it was neurological, a malformation or an injury. The curling of his neck as if he were still in the egg caused him to lose his balance and fall. In the pen, other ducklings walked on him and he was unable to feed himself.” said Guckelberg.
At this point Topper’s life was in peril, but TSC didn’t have the resources to deal with a special-needs duck. The manager contacted Guckelberg, who has a farm in Johnson County.
In steps, Topper’s life-saver nurtured him at her farm where she has her own normal hens, roosters, turkeys, ducks and even guineas. She helps rescue special-needs small bird-animals, such as chickens and ducks. She hand-fed Topper with vitamins, electrolytes and niacin. She would gently uncurl and massage his neck which gave brief moments of relief. Shortly after treatments, Topper would curl up again.
Guckelberg, then created a tiny cervical collar from a sock. Topper was able to walk normally and eat and drink on his own. However, Topper would often remove the collar and revert to curling his neck, perhaps out of habit, she observed. Topper began to show improvement, even acting curious and being loveable.
Still, he flipped over backwards helplessly and could not move until Guckelberg would flip him over. As there’s no manual or guide for caring for a duck with this condition, it’s totally trial and error by assesing his needs while trying to rehabilitate him.
She then prepared a special protective space with a hay-covered floor that acted as a cushion when he fell. The hay was replaced with straw after Topper became entangled, causing a great restriction in circulation, leaving his foot swollen and discolored. Fortunately there was no damage and he quickly healed. He also was unable to swim in the duck-pool. If he flipped over on his back, he would take in water and could drown.
Topper continued to be helpless without Guckelberg’s attention and care that created some stress for her. At one point, Topper went back to not drinking or eating and had to be hand fed.
She originally obtained the ranch for her two horses and added some roosters and hens. She is not in the habit of taking on rescue projects.
However, as Topper grew, he began to walk normally and eat and drink on his own. He could swim in his pool and began behaving like a normal duckie, of course with a loveable, assertive and humorous personality.
Two months after being brought to the farm, Topper’s incidents of flipping over had decreased significantly. Guckelberg said that Topper seemed to know when a curling attack was coming. He could also right himself afterward.
Now, he may not be totally cured, but Topper seems to be closer to normal. He quacks, plays, swims and eats on his own. His progress is due to the care and love provided by the reserved Guckelberg. Topper even seems to be appreciative, she contends.
However, this isn’t totally a story about a care-giver helping an afflicted duck. Instead it is simply about an unselfish person assisting a special-needs recipient.
It matters not the recipient was Topper the duck; it could have been any animal or person in need.
By Al Stilley
Constitution Week, a celebration originated by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), continues through Monday throughout the U.S.
The Constitution is America’s most important document because it stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties, freedoms and inalienable rights. It is truly the one document that guides us in our daily lives and protects our many freedoms.
This celebration of the Constitution was started by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1955, DAR petitioned Congress to set aside September 17-23 annually to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week. The resolution was later adopted by the U.S. Congress and signed into public law on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. is a performing arts center that opened in 1929 as a tribute to the U.S. Constitution.
The DAR’s aim of Constitution Week emphasizes citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution; informs people that the Constitution is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life; and encourages the study of the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787.
Local DAR Chapters – Mary Bryan Chapter of Greenwood, Samuel Bryan Chapter of Beech Grove and New Bethel Chapter of Franklin Township – actively utilize genealogy and historical research to educate residents to preserve the unique history of their hometowns.
Their common bond is their lineal descent from patriots of the American Revolution – any woman, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, who can prove this lineage is eligible to join.
Membership information is at: dar.org. Each local chapter has a Facebook site. For more information, contact JoAn Nichols, honorary state regent at firstname.lastname@example.org.