Motherly instincts, part 1 here.
I was recently taking my dogs for a walk (hah, it always starts this way) one evening through our subdivision. It was warm and we were enjoying a brisk pace when suddenly, 3 houses ahead, I saw and heard a commotion.
A mama duck was quacking loudly while flapping her arms around. Several baby ducks surrounded her in a flurry. Within pouncing distance there was a housecat, eyeing the baby ducks.
I took a second to take in the scene and then lurched forward with my dogs, ready to help this mama duck. As we got closer I could tell the cat had turned his attention away from the ducks and toward my dogs. The mama duck continued quacking, sounding to her little ones to follow her to safety. She started crossing the street and the majority of her babies were headed in the same direction.
I was focusing on my dogs and making sure they weren’t going to pounce on any of the baby “chikins” either. (We always refer to anything close to chicken meat as “chikin” in the presence of the dogs as we imagine that is how they would pronounce it.)
In the process of keeping the dogs the appropriate distance away from the baby ducks while still trying to be a threatening presence to the cat, I realized there was one baby duck that was not following his mom at all. Instead he was following me and the dogs every time we would scoot back a few feet.
“No ducky, you are supposed to follow your mommy!” I said out loud to the duck while simultaneously swearing at my unfortunate circumstance.
I briefly glanced behind me to see the owner of the neighboring house standing in his front yard watching this spectacle.
The duck kept hopping toward my dogs and I kept backing them away.
“Did the cat attack the duck?” The guy asked me.
“I think so,” I replied, distracted.
“Ducky, go follow your mommy!” My attention back on the mission.
The dog leashes were wrapped around my hands and wrists in a mess. I dropped the poop bag I was carrying by accident and yelled to the guy watching, “I’ll be back for that bag!”
I pulled my dogs bit by bit into the street in the direction the mama duck had gone, baiting the baby duck to follow.
“We have to get you to your mommy!”
A family rode by on their bikes and a little boy exclaimed, “Look mom, those dogs are afraid of that baby duck!”
No little boy, not even close.
The baby duck continued to follow my dogs across the street and down a sidewalk flanked by the fronts of houses on each side. I was amazed at how quickly this ducky could move with just his little hopping. He didn’t even seem tired!
We reached the end the sidewalk after going past several houses with no mama duck in sight. Across the street from us now was a big park, crowded with families. Here I was… sweaty, 20 weeks pregnant, and looking frantic. I considered for a brief second yelling out to the people in the park, “Did anyone just see some ducks walk by?”
But I didn’t. Because I’m slightly less crazy than that.
I decided to leave the baby duck where it was, hoping the mama duck was nearby and would come back for it. The baby duck was quacking so I figured if we left maybe the mama duck would come rescue her baby.
I left with my dogs in a hurry back to the house where I dropped the poop bag. The homeowner was still outside.
“Did you find the mama duck?” he asked.
“No,” I said frowning.
“Those ducks have nested in our bushes for three years now, but this is the first time they have had babies,” he told me.
“No!” I exclaimed. Stab to the heart. If only this guy knew how much I empathized with the mama duck at that moment.
“Yeah,” he continued. “We think the father duck is dead because we saw a male duck that had gotten run over by a car a little further down the street.”
“No!” I said again. Another stab to the heart. “Well, I hope that little guy makes it,” I said to the guy before continuing on our walk.
I replayed the scene in my head over and over the rest of our walk, wondering if I had done the right thing.
Situations like this would only happen to me.