March 2009 - Some of you might remember my story about Peepers and Crackers from a couple of years ago. Well, undaunted by her past failure, momma duck brought along eight new duckings at the tail end of 2008 and me being the big pussy that I am, have kind of adopted the bunch. I'm happy to say all eight survived this year and most of which have flown off to make little Muscovy families of their own. One female duck has hung around although that isn't by her choice, as her right wing was injured as a duckling and because it didn't heal correctly it; just sort of drags along on the ground. I don't know if it was the result of a run in with a turtle, a car, or maybe another animal, but the injury ultimately robbed her of the ability to fly. Not that she knows it; she flaps her wings with the best of em, she just can't get off the ground. But no worry, because Lefty will always have a warm bed to sleep in as long as I'm around.
And since she's a regular in my back yard come stale bread time, I thought it'd be a good idea for her and Ike to get acquainted. Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Ike is a Patterdale terrier; a hunting dog. So there's no way he's going to get a long with an animal that really equates to prey." And normally you'd be right except you obviously have no idea how much Ike loves food. Any food. Meat, potatoes, carrots, corn, pickles, lemons, limes, oranges, shrimp, crab, rice, beans, pizza, tomatoes, hot sauce... you name it, he'll eat it. He's very motivated by food. So with a few stern warnings of , "Easy... Easy... Be nice." I had him sitting down and eating bread next to Lefty in no time. In fact, dare I say the two have bonded a little? That's not to say that Ike doesn't make the occasional run at Lefty, causing her to run/waddle/flap out of the way, but I'm pretty sure it's all in good fun. So yeah, me and Ike watch out for Lefty.
So Friday night as I was sitting out on the back lanai watching the sun go down, it came to no surprise that Lefty came streaking into my back yard. Only this was no ordinary run/waddle/flap because she thought the dinner bell was ringing, she was really hauling what little ass she could. Hot on her tail (literally) were two big dark Muscovy ducks, both of which I will presume to be male. Now I know it's getting towards mating season, and Mother Nature has her ways of doing things, but c'mon man. I opened the door and took a few steps towards Lefty and she turned towards me with her two suitors in hot pursuit. Lefty continued past me, putting myself between her and the two males, both of whom seemed quite perplexed by the addition of a human being into their mating ritual. I raised my arms and took a few quick steps towards them and they turned and quickly beat feet back to the pond. I turned to give Lefty a thumbs up and returned to my beer on the back deck to once again enjoy the silence.
Silence which was quite short lived actually, as the sun had barely crept ten minutes lower when the previous scene of duck debauchery had escalated to a new level. The larger of the two ducks was chasing Lefty around the pond and each time he'd get close she'd dive underwater only to emerge twenty feet away or so. And then he'd make a run at her, only to have her dive away again. This unholy courtship continued for awhile before an exhausted Lefty couldn't swim anymore and had to return to the land. With her larger pursuer right behind her, it wasn't too long before he had Lefty pinned down in my neighbor's bushes, humping her little duck ass for all he was worth, while she was screeching in dismay. The second smaller male duck was standing by watching the action, patiently waiting his turn. I hesitated for a second before intervening, knowing hey this is nature but hey, somebody has got to teach these two assholes that no means no. And again I open the side screen door and take a few noisy stomps towards the two ducks forcing themselves upon my little mascot. Small Voyeur duck sees me coming and gets the hell out of dodge back towards the pond. Humping Duck sees me coming too, but doesn't break off mid coitus, presumably because he was too close to blowing his load. As a guy I felt a little bad for him, but broke up the festivities none the less; Humping Duck running for the lake and Lefty running towards the front of my house where she would circle around and return to the safety of the pond.
The sun crept lower and it was beginning to get somewhat dark out; Voyeur Duck and Humping Duck were no longer ducks to me, just duck like shadows moving on the grass. I'd walk around in my back of my lanai to get a better view of the battlefield and occasionally have to step out and make my presence known as they started to draw close to Lefty again, but I knew I was fighting a losing battle. With what little light left bleeding from the sky I knew that lefty would soon be at the mercy of these two duck rapists, as my human eyes were quite useless in the ever increasing darkness. Even now I was struggling to maintain the distinction of the two dark shadows against their background. Once I could no longer see to protect her, Lefty would be defenseless. It was then that from behind me a high pitched anxious whine drew my attention. I turned to look towards the house and after letting my eyes adjust for a second saw Ike standing behind the screen, eyed fixed like lasers at the two dark shadows. His eyes shot up to mine for a split second and then returned to his quarry. The corner of my mouth curled upwards as a sly smile pursed my lips. Ike was right. Humans had no place in this war. It was time for him to continue where I have left off. Mano-a-mano. Nature vs nature. An even battlefield.
I returned to my back deck not in defeat, but in wait. it didn't take too long before the two dark shadows began to make their way back towards Lefty, who was watching nervously from her nest in the rocks. I knelt down next to Ike and began to run my hand down his back which was now as rigid as stone; his muscles twitching and waiting for the moment to explode. One of his ears trembled as he could feel the anticipation building. The ducks grew closer still, oh yes. Ike began to shift his weight between his front paws, lifting one and then the other. My hand reached up to the screen door and slowly began to press the handle down. Missing nothing, Ike stole a quick upwards glance at my hand and new it was close to Go Time. I whispered in his ear, "What? What is that? Watch em. Watch em Ike, watch em..." His shifting of the weight grew to encompass his rear legs as well. He was like a top fuel dragster with his engine redlined, just waiting for the Christmas tree to go green. Down at the water Lefty had raised her head up and was beginning to stir in her nest, knowing she would soon be on the run again as the two male Muscovies had broken into a slow trot towards her. And as they broke from a trot to a full on run, two things happened simultaneously; Lefty started running towards the refuge of my back porch and I slipped the latch of the screen door.
Ike exploded like a motherfucking bullet.
He didn't growl. He didn't bark. In fact the only sound he made was a silent shooshing sound as he flew through the grass. Lefty never even saw him coming; had Ike been after her she never would have had a chance. By the time she saw Ike, he was already past her, making a silent line towards the two advancing males. Poor Lefty didn't know whether to shit or go blind and the surprise of this turn of events sent her scurrying in a frenzy of run/waddle/flaps to my left, further down the pond. And if I thought I saw confusion on the face of a duck when a human entered his mating ritual? Shit, you ought to see it when a fucking dog enters the mix. Humping Duck was in the lead with Voyeur Duck behind him and to his left. True to his name, Voyeur Duck saw Ike coming first but kept advancing; remember I said he was Voyeur Duck, not Smart Duck. Humping Duck saw the advancing threat a split second later and immediately performed a u-turn in mid step, breaking into a run/waddle/flap retreat of his own. In a scene reminiscent of Spike and Chester, once the smaller Voyeur Duck saw his big buddy had reversed course, he quickly did the same.
Mother Nature is an amazing thing to watch. The ducks' flocking instincts took over, and when Humping Duck made a sudden surge to his right, Voyeur Duck did the same. They zigged and zagged together and it was really quite beautiful. Seeing this, Ike immediately adjusted course to both close the distance as quickly as possible and cut the ducks off from turning too much and causing him to overshoot because of his heavier frame. The two ducks surged left in response to this and the three of them began a mystical prey/predator dance as the ducks fought to escape. This was my first time really seeing Ike in his element, and somehow it made me feel almost proud. And while I don't know the exact speed of a duck's run/waddle/flap method of escape, I can assure you it is not as fast as a dog who is intent on kicking a little duck ass.
Now, left to his own devices Ike would surely kill these two motherfuckers, so I knew I had to call him off early. I wanted them scared off, not maimed or dead. So when he was about three paces behind I called out, "Ike. No." and to his credit he (almost) broke off his pursuit. I know he heard me because I saw his gate break for a split second. But as he was carrying too much speed, overtaking the ducks was inevitable at this point. I again called out "Ike, Dammit, No." just as he was stretching his neck out and chomped down right on Humping Duck's ass, causing Humping Duck to quack out in both surprise and pain. Upon seeing his alpha duck taking enemy fire, Voyeur Duck broke ranks and made a hard right turn. This caught Ike's attention and he released Humping Duck long enough for Humping Duck to make one final run/waddle/flap to the safety of the pond. He landed with a splash and immediately began shaking his ass.
Back on terra firma, Ike had turned his full attention to Voyeur Duck who was trying to make headway on a course parallel with the shoreline. This was a mistake as Ike's groundspeed was much faster. I remember thinking, "Boy, this is a really dumb duck." Again I called to Ike, more urgently this time, as I was beginning to wonder if things were going to end poorly for this little fellow. Voyeur Duck made one final change of course, turning right and heading away from the water (dumb duck!) before Ike barreled into him at full gallop. Now Ike's mouth was open, but I'm pretty sure my yelling was having an impact on getting him dialed down, because he didn't chomp down like he did with Humping Duck, he just ran into him sending Voyeur Duck tumbling ass over teakettle. Ike came to a stop and just watched as Voyeur Duck did his best to gather himself and again run further down the grassline, parallel to the water. Jesus, this duck is fucking stupid.
Ike stood watching him go and a couple of times I saw his body tense like he was going to take off after the escaping duck again, causing me to utter a stern "Ike. No." in his direction. Ike did as he was told and the two of us watched Voyeur Duck make his way back to the water and regroup with now Sore Ass Duck. The two of them swam in circles around each other a few times and then began to swim towards the other side of the pond. I briefly considered calling Ike back to me, but given Lefty was nearby and Ike was so amped up, eh, wasn't sure of that was a good idea. I mean hey a dog is a dog, right? I walked out and scooped Ike up could still feel him trembling with the thrill of the chase. As I walked back towards my house, Ike never took his eyes off the two shadows making their way across the pond. A low growl emanated from his throat -- a throat that would soon be soothed by a small bowl of ice cream, by the way -- and his nostrils flared and gorged on the sweet smell of asskicking that hung in the air. Yes, Ike sent the residents of the pond a message that night, a very loud and clear message: NOBODY FUCKS WITH LEFTY.
Ike left his mortal coil on Saturday evening, four months shy of his seventeenth birthday. I don't know what to do. I'm broken.
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