A 15-year-old Labrador Retriever named Fred has had a nurturing nature his whole life, even toward animals that some dogs might see as prey. He has a soft spot for ducklings and has experience caring for ducklings who have lost their mothers.
This year, Fred “adopted” his third brood of ducklings after their mother went missing. He might not look like the parent you’d expect for a group of birds, but he takes his role very seriously. If the mother duck doesn’t return, Fred will keep looking after the babies until they can survive on their own.
A Famous Duckling Dad
Fred lives at the Mountfitchet Castle in Essex, England, along with many other domesticated animals. 2018 was the first time he showed interest in ducks. He looked after a group of nine orphaned ducklings, and a year later, he took in 14 more. He got to take a break from his parental duties for a while, but now he’s taking on a new challenge.
A duck named Mary had 15 ducklings at the castle this year, but then she vanished. There were no signs that a predator killed her, so her disappearance is a mystery. Staff members of the tourist attraction hope Mary returns because she was a good mom to the baby ducks.
But in the meantime, Fred is caring for the ducklings as his own. Like his past experiences, he stepped up to help without anyone encouraging him to. His relationship with the ducklings will melt anyone’s heart!
“He’s our very own stay-at-home dad,” owner Jeremy Goldsmith said. “Fred’s a bit more rickety than when he looked after the ducklings last time but he’s still got a very nurturing nature and it is wonderful to see.”
Fred Protects His Feathered Friends
Mountfitchet Castle has posted lots of photos of Fred with his new duckling children. The photos show the ducklings cuddled up next to him, and they sometimes ride on his back. The ducklings don’t seem to realize he’s an entirely different species.
“I think Fred’s benefitting from having a role in life and he loves being part of the family here at the castle,” Goldsmith said. “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 expects the ducklings to stay with Fred until they grow up or until their biological mother returns. Until then, Mountfitchet Castle will continue to flood their social media feed with heartwarming content about the senior dog and the many ducklings he has cared for.
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