Fat Louie, a Duck With Gout, a Parable about Fowl Health Care

Louie was an old fat fluffy white duck.

He lived in a small private lake east of Atlanta. The lake was man made as an amenity for a small  condominium community of two story rustic wooden apartments, known as Snapfinger Woods Estates.

The Lake was appropriately named Snapfinger Woods Lake.

At one time, when Louie was younger, he was the head duck of the small flock which claimed Snapfinger Lake as their year round private residence.

During the Spring, the flock consisted of  12 – 14 adults, and would expand to 18 – 20 by the end of  Summer.As the young left during the Fall and Winter, the flock would settle back to the core members, looking to Louie for leadership and content with the easy life of  a controlled environment.

The human residents of Snapfinger Woods Apartments would regularly feed Louie and his flock. Children loved to throw bread and cake crumbs into the lake, laughing with glee as Louie and his companions raced to be the first to reach and consume the morsels.

Louie being the lead duck, was the strongest and fastest swimmer of the flock.

When the humans threw food into the lake, Louie was always the first to get there, and invariably, he would eat and eat and eat. Only when he was stuffed would the rest of the flock get a chance at the bread , cake, and other delicacies offered.

Louie loved to show off how fast he could swim.

As the seasons passed, Louie found himself growing older and fatter. He was consuming increasingly large quantities of human food, and his once sleek muscular body began to expand, turning to duck flab.

One morning Louie woke from a deep sleep, his right foot pulsing with a dull throb. He tried to ignore the pain, quacking loudly to let his human providers know  that he was awake and hungry.

He moved his webbed feet, as ducks do, to begin swimming, while flapping his wings for speed and stability.

The pain in his foot intensified to a steady throb, and Louie was forced to stop trying to swim.

The other drakes, noticing Louie’s plight, began quacking and swimming  in circles. When the humans threw food, they quickly chased after the breakfast, leaving Louie sitting dead in the water.

One human began throwing bread towards Louie  , attempting to help him get a chance at some food.

He slowly and painfully paddled towards the bread, but the other ducks seeing his movement, turned and headed towards the floating food.

First one  and then another of the young males bumped into Louie, roughly shoving him out of the way.

“Quack, Quack, you’re damaged. ” They shouted,” You get no food. Only healthy ducks get to stay with the flock.”

” Why?” croaked Louie, feeling hungry and somewhat frightened. ” I’m lead duck.”

” Not anymore,” They quacked in unison,” Damaged ducks can not be part of the flock, Haven’t you ever heard of Charles Darwin, or Survival of the fittest?  ”

Sadly, for the first time in his life, Louie felt alienated and alone.He had become a victim of his position of lead duck, He had been too good and too competitive. He had always  been first to get fed, earning human applause and rewards for being the best and the fastest.

Sadly, now, his reward for being  more successful and competitive  was a very painful case of the gout.

The other ducks had always resented his success.

Louie was forced to leave the pond which he had ruled for most of his life.

Louie was faced with the most humiliating punishment possible  for being a successful duck. He was banished from the flock and forced to live on land, painfully waddling along the edge of the lake, his gout swollen right foot, a symbol of his fall from mediocrity.

He went to the next flock meeting of the Greater Atlanta Duck Association(GADA) to ask for help.

A large Gander, with a very long neck and narrow  limpid brown eyes looked  down his beak at the obviosly uncomfortable Louie, balancing unsteadily on his good leg.

“Stand still and lower your eyes when addressing  GADA. ” He huffed with disdain. ” We have very limited resources to cure injured ducks, especially older fat ducks such as yourself.”

He paused, looking very annoyed that Louie had had the nerve to ask the council for a cure, “We find you too old. The cure will be too expensive and must be saved  for more worthy younger members of the flock. Henceforth you will be known as Fat Louie, and will be forced to live out the rest of your days on land, so as not to contaminate or hinder the rest of the masses.”

Fat Louie lived for several more seasons, largely at the largess of the human residents of Snapfinger Woods Apartments. His wealth and position was spread among the others in his pond.

Once again the system had worked. The good of the many superceded the good of the individual. 

When the humans took pity on Fat Louie and continued to feed him on land, many of them lost interest in the ducks still in the pond and ceased feeding them.

A human recession helped to bankrupt Snapfinger Estates, and  the complex was sold to a developer who drained the pond and built a small office building and parking lot where the pond had been.

Fat Louie continued to live on dry land and the secretaries took pity on the fat duck with the bad right foot, and continued to feed him cakes and cookies, until his death from escalated cholesterol several summers later.

Moral of the Story: Sometimes being the best and the fastest gets you promoted to your own exclusive club.

                                           And sometimes it’s a pain in the  . a..  foot.

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