Neliza DrewNov 20, 2020·4 min read (originally published on Medium)
I feel you need to know about the life that ended because no one was supervising your dogs Wednesday.
This was Shelly. Shelly could have lived to be up to 20 years old as a pet duck, but her life was tragically cut short before she was 2.
Shelly was a rescue duck who had been raised in a cage for the first year of her life. She had never been around other ducks, had never learned to forage or swim, had poor nutrition and trouble walking from atrophy and from overgrown toenails. (Duck’s nails normally wear down as they walk around, but she had barely been allowed to leave her small cage.)
I spent the past seven months helping Shelly learn how to be a duck, helping her get stronger, feeding her special food to boost her feather and muscle growth, and introducing her to wild behaviors like swimming and foraging. She’d never seen another duck before moving in and she had to learn to be part of a duck family as well as learn from them how to be a duck. She’d finally grown strong enough to play, swim, and bathe happily in the pond without her feathers getting waterlogged or without needing help to get back out. She was happy and proud in her little coop and felt safe there with her new duck friends next door in their own coop.
Just Tuesday, she was happily enjoying the pond and getting up to duck shenanigans with Baby Hope in the brush around the pond. Wednesday morning she was happily foraging.
She loved mealworms and frozen corn, but was iffy on peas and still hadn’t quite figured out lettuce.
And now she’s gone because no one at your house could be bothered to keep an eye on the dogs in the yard. The hopped the fence and murdered poor Shelly in the pond she was just learning to enjoy.
Additionally, they injured Miss Joy who had to go to the vet. (Luckily, that $125 was in the budget.) She’s missing a lot of feathers and has abrasions so she’s on medication for seven days and has a follow-up appointment next week. She’s not a fan of medication, but she’s okay with not being allowed out of the coop right now because she’s basically terrified of her own yard. Baby Hope is also afraid to leave the coop. Even June the drake, who I spent months re-trimming his flight feathers and training him to stay in the yard, only really wants to walk from the coop into house to the bedroom and back because he’s spooked to be outside alone.
I still have to find the rest of the pond filter parts and clean and re-assemble that. I had just cleaned the pond filter and it was working perfectly before a pack of wild hounds trespassed.
I had to cancel and reschedule my whole afternoon of classes so I could take care of poor Shelly’s remains and rush Joy to the vet. My students were disappointed, and this leaves me with even more work to do. I assure you I would much have rather taught my students Pre-Algebra than deal with such a violation of my yard and sanctuary.
I also clearly cannot let the surviving ducks out into their own yard until I have the money and time to erect a larger fence or barrier since yesterday, not 24 hours after they committed murder, the dogs were once again roaming free in your backyard without supervision and this time had a third dog with them. The wooden fence is not longer because my husband was in the hospital for 7 weeks, but there is a fence between us and we do live in a city where dogs should not just be allowed to roam free. They could have attacked a child or someone else’s pet. Not to mention the fact that had they not been busy murdering and destroying things, they could have just as easily run out into the street and been hit by a car.
Your inaction has broken the hearts of all who loved Shelly, including the duck rescuer who brought her here to be rehabilitated, the good neighbors who took care of her and the others while I was at the husband’s side for weeks, and the people she’d met in Zoom meetings during her early days in the house. Please learn to better supervise your dogs.