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A Goose With Shoes
What do professional basketball player Michael Jordan and Andy the Goose have in common? They both wear Nike tennis shoes.
Wait a minute! A goose that wears shoes? It's true! Andy was born (or hatched) with-out webbed feet.
Gene Fleming, Andy's master and traveling companion, discovered Andy when picking up some ducks from his sister-in-law's place, near Hastings, Neb. (Fleming is the owner of Fleming Mfg., a livestock handling equipment company near Hastings.)
"I built a little pond in my back yard and my sister-in-law, who raises ducks and geese, asked me if I wanted some ducks for it," he explains. "When I picked up the ducks, I saw this goose that looked like he was having trouble walking. I asked my sister-in-law about him and she said he didn't have any feet."
Fleming says he thought about that goose for a week, trying to figure out how to help him walk better. He finally concocted the idea that shoes might help the poor goose walk. So, he went back to his sister's place and traded a pair of his ducks for the foot-less goose.
The first shoes Andy wore were size 0 leather baby shoes.
"First, we had to wait for Andy to grow into the size 0 shoes," Fleming explains. "Since he had no toes or webs, we cut slits in the sides of his shoes and poked sponge rubber into the toes to keep his shoes on straight, to provide comfort and to enable him to walk, run and swim. We also cut a 1/ 4-in. hole in the bottom of the shoes to let the water out when he swims."
There was just one problem.
Andy went through that first pair of shoes in 30 days. Fleming says that if he would have had to keep buying that type of shoe for Andy every 30 days for the rest of his life (geese live about 50 years), he would have had at least $7,800 invested in shoes for the goose. So, he decided to switch to tennis shoes.
The 3-year-old Andy has become pretty famous, Fleming says. This duo has appeared on NBC's Johnny Carson and ABC's Incredible Sunday. People Magazine and Reader's Digest, as well as newspapers all over the United States and Europe, have featured Andy's story.
"There isn't a kid in the United States who doesn't know who Andy is," Fleming says. "That's because he's beep featured in the kids' Weekly Reader (an educational newspaper for youth)."
Fleming adds that Nike is planning to induct Andy into its Hall of Feet, an exhibit where photos of athletes and the first pair of Nike tennis shoes they wore are displayed.

(Reprinted with permissiion from Nebraska Farmer).

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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #5