Dog and duck: their friendship was doomed

By Genevieve Helliwell

An unlikely friendship between a dog and a duckling captured the hearts of people all around the Western Bay but like Shakespeare's tragic tale, Romeo and Juliet, the odd pair were destined to be split apart

The large boxer dog named Romeo and the baby paradise duckling became friends when the newborn duck was rescued after being found upside down and near death in an open farm paddock at Te Puke.

Juliet, as the fowl was named, was taken back to Heather Loughlin's Matua home and a friendship developed between dog and duckling.

But seven weeks on, Juliet is now a Julius and the drake has turned into "a stroppy teenager", Mrs Loughlin said.

"At the start of the Garden and Art Festival this duck was still called Juliet and she'd sit on the lawn entertaining people. Then during the festival I noticed a touch of green and I thought 'oh crikey, it's a drake'," she said.

"And since then he's turned into a monster duck, he's almost the size of a goose."

Juliet's name changed to Julius, then again to Frankenstein, "because now he's a bit evil", she said.

In the last few days, the duck has become territorial and had a couple of goes at Romeo.

"But that's just his nature. He's just trying to mark his place and unfortunately he's been taking it out on Romeo." Mrs Loughlin said.

She was amazed at how fast the duckling turned into a fully-fledged duck. She's even had to buy a special container to put him in because he's too big for a normal cat-sized container.

"The other day he was running across the lawn flapping his wings, trying to fly, and Romeo was around so he had his neck stretched out and he just kept going and ran into him."

"And now he's starting to quack and that's come on in the past week. Instead of a baby chirp it's a croaky beginning of a quack. It's so funny," she said.

The stroppy teen lives in a land of luxury in Mrs Loughlin's back lawn but he is set to return to the Te Puke farm he was rescued from.

Mrs Loughlin said she would be sad to see the duck go but said he would have a better life at the farm.

"There's ponds there and there's other semi-rehabilitated ducks. There's a pair of paradise ducks up there and a female duck so there's a chance that he might be really happy there," she said.

"It's been an amazing experience and I've had heaps of fun watching him grow. People have asked if I'm going to buy orange sauce and have him for Christmas but no, I won't be doing that."


- Bay of Plenty Times

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