Labrador Retriever Adopts Duckling

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A duckling whose mother was mauled to death by a fox has been adopted by a Labrador retriever, according to Yahoo News.

In true Disney-like fashion, the duck even has a name, "Dennis." It apparently was less than a week old when tragedy struck, but 4-year-old Fred the dog saved the day. Fred's owner, Jeremy Goldsmith, also was a good Samaritan, permitting the new feathered pet.

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Dogs may not always take a shine to cats, but they do seem to hook up with all sorts of species. One of my favorite such stories in recent years was about a pregnant dog that nursed a hurt squirrel back to health. That was perhaps more motherly instinct.

In this case, Fred found orphaned Dennis and licked the little duckling clean. A friendship must have been forged in that moment, as the unlikely mates sleep together, play together and even go swimming in the local pond, according to the Daily Mail.

I'd probably do such romping too if I lived where they dwell. The animals and Goldsmith all reside at Mountfitchet Castle in Stansted, Essex, U.K.

Goldsmith told the Daily Mail, "It is amazing to see the two of them together. When we found Dennis he was quite frail, and he clearly would not have survived another day on his own."

He continued, "Fred, who has always been extremely loving, went straight up to him and began to lick the little bird clean. Since then Dennis has not stopped following him around, and Fred has pretty much adopted him."

"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. I don't think the duckling would have made it without Fred; his loving nature really does make a difference."

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Goldsmith added, "Fred grew up with all our animals and has such a loving nature that he always fathers any orphans. He even took over looking after Lupin, a fallow deer, when she was tiny. Though Dennis sees Fred more as mother, so I suppose he is a bit like one of those modern stay-at-home dads."

Hundreds of rescued animals reside at Mountfitchet, which has been owned by Goldsmith and his family for the past four decades.

He now wonders how hanging out with a dog will affect the young duck.

"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."

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