Dogs and ducks seem capable of forming quite the bonds, at least if we judge by some recent news stories. And this shouldn’t be awfully surprising – both dogs and ducks are highly intelligent animals, and as such, they are more than capable of forming friendships. But this recent event in Essex, England, proves extra adorable – a 10-year-old Labrador has adopted 9 motherless ducklings!
The place of the special union is a heritage attraction in Essex. The mischievous ducklings are adorably attached to the good-natured pooch – they follow him everywhere, even for a swim and enjoying a ride on his back.
The young ducks have arrived at Mountfitchet Castle in Stansted alone – with no mother or father to take care of them. The 10-year-old Fred has taken them under his metaphorical wing, however, and has been an exemplary parent ever since.
And that’s very fortunate, as the ducklings appear very comfortable with the dog:
They go everywhere with him, they take swimming lessons with him, they even sleep between his paws!
Jeremy Goldsmith, who is the castle’s manager, says: “He has always been very gentle. The ducklings are all in our house at the moment and he is very good with them.
“We have a lot of rescued animals, including deer, goats, chickens, and peacocks. We have all the domestic fowl that would have been here in Norman times.”
The 10-year-old pooch has been the resident pet of the castle for quite some time. The staff has expressed their happiness of how he has been so caring towards the ducklings.
Mr. Goldsmith also said: “Fred has got an absolutely wonderful nature. They absolutely love him.’
Another member of staff said: “They are getting very mischievous even hitching a ride on his back and following him into the water for a swim in the castle moat.
“The team was very worried about the ducklings but Fred, a 10-year-old Labrador, immediately took to them and has been babysitting ever since.”
Another reason why dogs and small ducklings can be such a great pairing is not only the two species’ intellect but the young ducklings’ ability to imprint on the first species they come in contact with. Young birds can often view even humans as parental figures, as long as they are the first creatures they see after hatching.
Mountfitchet Castle itself is an interesting attraction – it is a Norman ringwork and bailey fortification. The site also has a living history museum, with all kinds of livestock that would have been kept by the people that have lived there in ancient times.