By Dr. Becker
This is a little story about the often puzzling co-existence of brutality and kindness in the natural world.
In Stansted, Essex, a mother duck is mauled to death by a vixen (a female fox). Her tiny duckling, less than a week old, is left for dead.
Fate intervenes. A man named Jeremy Goldsmith and his yellow Labrador retriever, Fred, come upon the duckling in the wild. Fred right away starts bathing the mud-covered baby with his tongue.
According to Jeremy, when they found the duckling he was quite frail and would not have survived another day on his own.
As duckling luck would have it, his two-legged savior is the owner of Mountfitchet Castle in Standsted, Essex, U.K. The castle is home to hundreds of rescued animals.
A Dog and His Duckling
Fred’s nurturing act of licking the baby duck clean was apparently a bonding moment for them both.
Since then, they’ve been nearly inseparable. The duck, now named Dennis, follows Fred everywhere the dog goes, and Fred has accepted his role as the duckling’s protector.
Stay at Home Dad
According to Mr. Goldsmith, “Dennis snuggles up to Fred at night, he will clamber up on top of him and they even go swimming together - but Fred is a lot less graceful in the water.”
Fred has grown up around the rescued animals that inhabit the grounds of Mountfitchet Castle, including chickens, goats and sheep. According to Jeremy, the 4 year-old lab routinely fathers orphaned babies – including a tiny Fallow deer.
Dennis the duckling, though, seems to view Fred as more of a mother figure, so Jeremy thinks in this case Fred is “… a bit like one of those modern stay at home dads.”
Jeremy thinks it will be interesting to watch little Dennis grow up. “He absolutely adores Fred so I am sure he will pick up some canine traits - I am expecting him to start barking and chasing cats.”