Bob’s swan song

Beloved waterfowl succumbs to recent injuries

Bob the swan, who was attacked by an at-large dog on Feb. 19 at Riverside Cemetery, succumbed to his injuries Friday morning, in the care of his veterinarian. The bird, who was in his early-mid 20s, had a seizure and passed away.

Riverside Cemetery has not only been an icon of the community since 1863, but its lake’s waterfowl have become something of local celebrities.

“It is with shocked and heavy hearts that we announce that Bob, our beautiful swan, is no longer with us,” Riverside Cemetery General Manager Dorie Tammen wrote to her Facebook followers.

Friday morning, the swan suffered a fatal seizure while in the care of his veterinarian.

“He was doing amazing. His wounds were looking better, he was eating well and cleaning himself. We were at a loss for why he took a turn for the worse,” said Animal Clinic The Vet Veterinarian Lindsey Heinrichs. “But Friday morning he was like he was the first day he came in. We fed him with a syringe, then a few hours later, he had a very large seizure, and when it was done, he had passed on us.”

The popular mute swan, who was in his early to mid 20s, was attacked by an at-large dog on Feb. 19, who had wandered onto the cemetery’s grounds, accompanied by another canine, not involved in the incident. Tammen, who witnessed the attack, said the two dogs made a bee line for the lake, which spooked the nearby swan.

“They were obviously running loose and unattended, wearing collars, with no owner in sight,” she said. “They were otherwise friendly, and not aggressive to me at least. But once Bob took off across the ice to get away from one of the dogs, it appeared the predatory instinct kicked in and the mauling began, way out in the middle of the lake, on the ice.”

Marshalltown Police Department officers crawled out onto the half-frozen lake to separate the dog and swan, and to rescue the second dog, which was also in distress, stuck out in the water.

Bob was immediately taken to Animal Clinic The Vet, and put in the care of Dr. Grant Jacobson, with Dr. Heinrichs assisting. He sustained bite wounds to his neck and leg, which continued to drain fluid, and was given antibiotics and pain medication via intravenous therapy. From the start, neurological issues were suspected.

“He had some neurological problems when he first came in,” Heinrichs said. “Being an older bird, age could have played a role. Swans in captivity live for around 20-30 years and he was at least 20 years old.”

Bob’s condition had improved so much in the week and a half since the attack, that plans were made to have him spend time on a farm in rural Melbourne upon being discharged.

“We’d even made arrangements for him to spend some time recovering and healing those wounds at the farm that was Goosey-Goose’s previous home (with Nancy Adams), before returning to Riverside. Instead, Bob will be returning to us to be buried beside the lake where he lived and was loved,” Tammen said.

Adams recently penned a book about Goosey-Goose’s life, entitled “The Golden Goose of Riverside”, wherein Bob was portrayed as a character.

“We’d quite looked forward to the idea of hosting him while he further healed … Such a loss,” Adams wrote on Facebook.

Other media outlets have been closely following Bob’s story, with letters and well wishes coming into the cemetery from all over the state. In late February, a letter arrived from West Liberty to the cemetery, addressed to Bob. Accompanied with a $10 donation, the note read: “To the most beautiful swan a girl’s never met,” signed Lori and Jill Tenold.

The cemetery’s Facebook page has been flooded with a bevy of comments, including: “I am beyond saddened. I’m so sorry, sweet Bob, that an unexpected event that started this whole situation eventually took your life. Sail on in the lakes of heaven and know how much you were loved and prayed for,” and “How sorry I am to hear about Bob. I have many memories as a child feeding the ducks and swans at Riverside Cemetery,” as well as: “So sorry to hear about Bob. I believe he’s in Swan Heaven now. R.I.P. However his family and friends at the lake are going to miss him, everybody sends their love.”

Folks have also offered monetary donations to help cover Bob’s medical and final expenses.

“People have dropped off checks at the cemetery, at the vet clinic, and through local animal groups like Diamond in the Ruff Rescue,” Tammen said.

Tammen’s niece, Kelly Daniells, started a GoFundMe page to help with the expenses. To contribute, visit:

For updates, follow Riverside Cemetery’s Facebook page.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or