They say dogs are man’s best friends, but if this pooch is anything to go by, dogs are actually ducking’s best friends.
Last year, golden Labrador Fred made the headlines when he selflessly decided to adopt nine ducklings after their mum went missing.
It would seem Fred went through a little empty nest syndrome when his ducklings got older, and now he’s fostering a second set of doting ducklings.
The 11-year-old doggo is the resident pet at Mountfitchet Castle near Stansted, Essex, where staff are touched to see him playing such a key role in the birds’ welfare.
Jeremy Goldsmith, director of Mountfitchet Castle, said:
He took to his role like a duck to water.
Fred has got an absolutely wonderful nature. They absolutely love him.
The ducklings were left behind by their mother, a Muscovy duck, when she wandered off with six of their siblings, but luckily stay-at-home dad Fred was on hand to step up and stop the little birds from being orphaned.
As soon as he was shown the little ducklings all huddled together, he instantly lay down around them to keep them warm, and it’s probably the cutest thing you’ll see this year.
It wasn’t long before the birds felt right at home with their new doggy daddy and clambered on top his back, with one playfully perching on his head.
Fred indicated straight away that there would be no ducking out of his duties as he settled in around them.
Within minutes the ducklings accepted their odd looking new mum and were climbing all over him.
Last year, when Fred adopted his first batch of birds, Jeremy told the BBC:
We brought the ducklings into the house as they are too young to fend for themselves, and Fred just took them under his paw – rather than his wing.
He’s got a lovely nature and has grown up around rescued animals.
Fred’s home, Mountfitchet Castle, is a Norman Motte and Bailey castle, built of wood.
Formerly an Iron Age hill fort, the historic site was also a Roman signals fort and later a Saxon and Viking settlement before being attacked in 1066 by William the Conqueror.
Now, it is home to not only Fred, but his six little duckling babies too, and what a wonderful home that must be.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.