Friday, May 23, 2008

Menage a trois a la Duck

At our house we don’t have any pets, unless you count my husband and three boys. I always say that I can not sustain another heart beat in my household while one friend says that she never has a pet she can’t flush. I am grateful that so many animal lovers pick up my slack.

Not to say we haven’t had any pets in the past. A bunny, two turtles and several floating goldfish have called our abode home. The goldfish succumbed to over feeding and the bunny met a grisly end when a stray dog got caught in his cage. I never thought grave digging and belting out “The Circle of Life” from Lion King during the funeral service would be part of motherhood. I have learned that once red-eared slider turtles reach three years of age they need a little female companionship. Speedy and Sneaky started to try to jump out of the tank to find some. Speedy succeeded twice, but the second time he must have hit his head because after that we had to change his name to Slowy. The boys wrote a lovely letter to the concierge at North Park mall asking if the turtles could live there. After an extensive background check the turtles were approved and now reside outside Neimans.

Now we have three new pets straight from White Rock Lake. A female mallard duck named Bernadette and her two boyfriends Quacky and Drake, such original boy names right? She showed up one night with three suitors but she must have dropped one after that dinner date at our place. Just as well, all male mallards run out on the family as soon as the female lays her eggs. I’ve learned other mallard fun facts. This ménage is probably the result of the boys being labeled geeks and left out of the pairing off process. These dateless wonders often target an isolated female duck and…we trust me, you don’t want to know the rest. I also learned that mallards also have unusually high rates of male-male partners, as many as 19% of all pairs. Now that is info that will clinch a trivial pursuit championship.

When they first lighted on our lawn a few weeks ago the boys pulled all the bread out of the pantry, flew outside and threw crumbs with abandon. Now Bernadette has a more sophisticated palate and sniffed at the stale garlic bread on last night’s menu. She has become bolder each evening and will almost eat out of our hands. I remind the boys not to go that far since they will probably want to keep all their digits.

Most evenings we sit out front and wait for her to show, bread crumbs at the ready. Our neighbors going on their nightly walks and runs stop by to gawk. Overall they add a peaceful touch to our evenings. I just hope that when the time comes Bernadette will bring her ducklings by.

a post post p.s. - This morning Christopher went to outside to get the paper (Yes I have trained my children well) and came back with the news that Bernadette and her posse were in the front yard. I guess we are now open for breakfast and dinner. He took some bread, went outside to feed them, and reported back that Bernadette had eaten out of his hand. Great. The cosmic lesson? 1) Boys don't care about their digits and 2) now there is a new occasion to remind them to wash their hands. "Don't forget to wash after the duck has pecked on your palm!"

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