Written by Ozzie Chavez of California
Several months ago, I made a wonderful friend. Her name is Matilda.
My son Noah was waiting for me to pick him up from his cross country practice and happened upon a group of ducks sitting by the river. One of the ducks was sitting by herself, very skinny and not able to move very well. Noah, knowing that his mother is a sucker for things like this, asked if we could bring her home and see if we could get her well again. It was easy to say yes, as my husband was out of town on business and I was sure that we could get her fattened up and returned to her home before he got home.
I sent my older kids off to the feed store to buy duck crumbles and a little wading pool for her. At first, it was very touch and go. She had to be hand fed and carried everywhere. There was some type of injury to her foot and she wasn’t able to get around. I would hold her against me and she would take naps.
As time went on, she began to hobble around on her own and eat by herself. She became friends with Schnitzel my mini Dachshund and they would play in the backyard together. Matilda is an Indian Runner duck and has beautiful coloring. She and I would have races together. She learned how to stand behind the line and would would wait for the ready…set…go! Tilly would tap on the back door with her beak and quack when she wanted company and just loved to be held.
As time went on, I began to notice that she was becoming more aggressive towards Schnitzel and also discovered that she was a late bloomer and was actually Matt not Matilda. I had to make the decision to find a new home for Matt. I contacted the Folsom Zoo where they have a duck sanctuary and were excited to have an Indian Runner who was so domesticated. I really miss the company of my little friend. I loved coming home each day and being greeted by Matilda and snuggling up with her neck against mine.
Footnote: For those of you who may be concerned about Matilda’s longterm well being due to the well-known trade & sale of animals among many zoos, Folsom Zoo has specific clauses in their charter that forbid the sale of animals for profit and they also have a policy that their animals should be allowed to remain through old age until they pass away or are euthanized out of medical necessity due to suffering.