Monday, 3 August 2009

Duck soup

My wellies were full of muddy water, my feet were slipping and sliding in all directions on the slimy bottom of the pond, my arms flailing around, shouting at the top of my voice with no real plan of action in mind. When I saw that Labrador swimming around the pond with my poor Indian Runner duck in its mouth I just waded in – literally and metaphorically speaking.

I had discovered the two lost dogs on the road outside, after going and investigating the sound of cars screeching to a halt outside – fearing that one of our animals had somehow got out on the road. I didn’t recognise the excited and friendly dogs criss-crossing the road, panting heavily with tongues flapping out of open mouths. They were evidently having an adventure. They had collars but no identity tags, and concerned that an accident would happen, I decided to put them in our barn while I telephoned neighbours to se if they knew where the dogs were from. I had no luck and it was when I returned to check on them that I saw with horror that they had jumped out of the stall, squeezed through the side of a large sliding door which was closed but not locked, and started causing the havoc. One of the dogs was whirling around the edge of the pond in excitement, watching its companion hunting. Chickens, ducks and geese were scarpering in all directions and it took me a couple of seconds to recognise the limp filthy shape in the swimming dog’s mouth as Nick the drake.

I leapt into the pond (fortunately not very deep) shouting at the top of my voice, hoping that this might shock the dog into dropping its prey. This did not work so I gave chase. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to chase something in a pond while wearing welly boots – but it is not easy. It’s a bit like one of those nightmares when you are trying to run away from something but can only move very slowly. The Labrador was in his element, I definitely was not. I must have had an adrenalin rush however, because I did manage to grab its collar and haul it out of the pond still holding the duck which I was sure was dead, it certainly wasn’t showing any sign of life. I don’t remember how I got the dog to drop Nick – it may have involved some shaking. I kept a very tight grip on the miscreant’s collar and made a successful lunge at its partner in crime and frogmarched them both back to the barn and locked them in as securely as I could. I felt sick at the thought of what I might find outside. Geese, chickens and more ducks range free in that area – there were also the sheep and lambs in a nearby field – what I might find filled me with trepidation. As far as I could tell after a quick scout around there were no other victims – the sheep were grazing unconcerned, most of the chickens were quaking beneath various bushes, and the geese were ruffled but OK. Feathers had been scattered about the place and with a heavy heart I picked up a spade on my way back to the pond, anticipating grave digging duty. I made a double take when I got to the spot where Nick had been unceremoniously dropped – he wasn’t there! I walked over to where the rest of the Indian Runner ducks were still waddling and quacking around in alarm, and there he was – alive and walking! I could hardly believe my eyes. The ducks – normally friendly and following me around in the hope of bread – wouldn’t let me any where near. From a distance I could see that he did have some injuries, but wasn’t bleeding. Fearing that if I tried to catch him there and then he (and maybe the others) would die of stress after their ordeal I decided to leave them be for the time being. It was nearly closing time at the vet’s so I rang up and explained what had happened and arranged to take Nick in first thing in the morning.

I then telephoned the dog warden. Fortunately she was in the area and picked up the dogs within the hour. I was reassured that if the owner was looking for the dogs then they would be able to find them.

At bedtime the ducks put themselves into the barn as usual, so it was quite easy to scoop up Nick into a tall cardboard box. and take him for treatment. As the vet remarked, he was surprisingly perky considering his injuries – he had had a couple of good bites taken out of his back end, but the prognosis was good. He needed to be kept at the surgery for a few days, and I took a female duck down to keep him company, having been advised that ducks do not do well on their own. He needed more nursing at home for a week or two after that, but made a full recovery and is still happily waddling around with his harem looking like an animated upside-down hockey stick.. Now when our own dogs are passing nearby the ducks call the alarm and move very smartly in the opposite direction – and who can blame them…

1 comment:

  1. That seems strange for a dog. I would expect it of a cat though.