Labrador retrievers are known for their affinity for waterfowl — but generally it’s in a sporting sense as working dogs are bred to work alongside hunters, finding and returning downed fowl.
But Fred doesn’t know about that. Fred is a 15-year-old lab who certainly has the breed’s interest in ducks, but in a heartwarming, different sort of way: He has adopted and helped care for three separate groups of abandoned ducklings.
Fred lives in England, at the historical site and tourist destination known as Mountfitchet Castle in Essex. Owner Jeremy Goldsmith said that the dog has a way with other animals.
“Over the 15 years of owning him, Fred has spent a lot of time at the castle with the animals, and it has become second nature to him to be amongst the various rescued animals,” Goldsmith told SWNS, according to People.
The first recorded interaction between the dog and ducklings was in 2018 when an abandoned group of nine babies was found on the castle grounds. Fred immediately took to them, being very gentle with them and “helping” care for them until they were big enough to fend for themselves on the grounds.
In 2019, he got another chance to foster more ducklings when a mother duck abandoned half her brood, leaving seven tiny babies behind to fend for themselves.
“Fred, the famous Labrador dog is not ducking out of his duties as he again steps in to foster seven day-old ducklings,” the castle posted on Facebook in May 2019. “The mother, a Muscovy duck, had fourteen babies but for some reason left half of them behind in the nest when she wandered off to the nearest pond with the other half of the ducklings dutifully following along behind her.”
“So only this morning, as soon as Fred was shown the little ducklings all huddled together, he instantly lay down around them to keep them warm much to the delight of the Castle’s owner and staff, who breathed a huge sigh of relief when they knew that dear old Fred was willing to step in.
“‘He took to his role like a duck to water.’
“Within minutes the ducklings accepted their odd looking new mum and were climbing all over him.”
But this year, the castle announced that aging Fred has just found his biggest group of orphans yet.
“Our doting 15 year old Fred has become a Foster parent for the second time in 5 years,” Mountfitchet Castle posted on Tuesday. “But this time to 15 orphaned ducklings.”
“Well done Fred.”
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