Raising Ducklings and Goslings


raising ducks and geese

Socrates and Plato


It's a week before Easter, my neighbor, and I are driving home from the local feed store with two baby ducklings. Socrates, whom we often called " Sock" was a Rouen, and Plato a White Pekin. For several weeks I kept them inside my home, first in a large bird cage, then, as they grew in size, the bathtub became their home, until I was able to complete their very large 6' x 4' cage. They imprinted with me right away, so whenever I left their sight they began peeping quite vigorously. They delighted in taking showers, then I would fill the tub, and watch them splash, and dive into the water.

After about 2 months they were ready to go outdoors, and live in the big cage. They also now had their own swimming pool with a ramp my neighbor had built which allowed them to climb up, and dive into the water. Everyone loved them, and watched over them as if they were innocent children. One morning around 5:30 am my neighbor came to my door with big tears in her eyes. She had been out on her patio when she heard " Sock" whimpering , so she went to their cage, and found Plato had, for some unforeseen reason, died during the night.

My heart was broken as I picked her up and carried her out to a grave site we had prepared for her. Socrates was beside herself with grief, running back, and forth, quacking, and quacking as if to say " Please make her better Mom", " Please don't take her away from me". We who are of the human kingdom understand all too well the heartache involved in the loss of someone we love, but never had I witnessed this same kind of grief coming from an animal. For days Socrates whimpered at night in her cage. My neighbor suggested I bring her in the house at night so she wouldn't be alone at night. I attempted to drape my bed with old sheets thinking she could sleep with me? She stomped all over me, quacking like crazy. I finally resorted to putting her back into the bathtub, her old homestead. My neighbor asked the next day how it went? I told her it was like sleeping with the enemy?? But still she, during the day, would just sit, and stare for hours, motionless, or she would run back, and forth in front of my door quacking until I would come out, and pick her up, and rock her in my arms.

She grew more, and more dependent on me. Every day she ran to greet me when I came home from work, immediately laying down in front of me whimpering until I picked her up, and rocked her. She quacked at every strange car that drove in, she would visit the neighbors during the day, quacking,and carrying on until she was acknowledged, or someone would come out, and play with her. In the back where her cage was I had strung white christmas tree lights all over the trees. She knew every night when the lights went on it was time for her to kennel into her cage. I would go out, and hold her, and kiss her good night. She loved having her tummy rubbed, and her bill stroked. One day I had come home from grocery shopping, and as always, she came running out to greet me. I picked her up to hold her, and she bravely climbed up on my shoulder, and perched herself, quacking, and looking around as I walked around the yard.

Later that day as I was looking out my window I saw her fly from the back of my yard clear out to the front of the driveway. My reflexes didn't kick in immediately, but within seconds I sensed her endangerment. It was a coyote. I flew out my front door, running, chasing, screaming, crying. I ran to the street, my heart was hurting so I couldn't breathe. She was gone------- For days I couldn't sleep. Why couldn't I protect her. I felt guilt beyond guilt. I would imagine holding her , and rocking her in my arms as I cried myself to sleep. One night I dreamed of her. It was as if I was seeing her essence, or an aurora around her. The colors were so vibrant, and beautiful---Deep purples, indigo blues, forrest greens, and a brilliant fuchsia.

Do animals have an individual soul as do humans? I'm not certain. Does the unconditional love we give to our pets extend beyond this physical plane. Does our love,and compassion help, or heal in some way the evolution of the animal kingdom? She will always be in my heart, she was my best friend. I love you Sock, I will always miss you.

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