By JESSICA MARTIN
A large bull mastiff struts up to the feathered creature, so close their faces are almost touching. The bird isn’t intimidated and doesn’t waddle away. Instead, they stare at each other in silence, each weighing the strength of their competition. The dog inches closer. Closer. And whack! The duck winds her neck back and smacks him in the snout.
Although domesticated and at most times well behaved, Ferdy is a household pet that stands her ground. Alex Fisher said raising the duck is entertaining and he never knows what’s going to happen. However, one thing he can always guarantee is the reaction he will receive from people when they first find out about the most recent addition to his collection of animals.
“They either do one of two things,” he said. “They’ll look at me like I’m crazy, or they think it’s
the coolest thing ever.”
Perched on the couch in the Fisher family living room in Elmira, Ferdy fluffs her feathers, cuddles under Fisher’s arm and quietly quacks with contentment. When Fisher gets up to grab a glass of water, she follows closely behind him, waddling in the diaper Fisher ordered from South Carolina off of a Diapers for Ducks website.
“She’s pretty much a dog as far as I’m concerned,” he said laughing. “She doesn’t respond to her name but we’re working on that.”
Although Fisher has always loved animals and has many pets roaming the house, he was not planning on ever domesticating a duck. Thanks to one of his high school friends, nine months ago he added the new, cuddly friend to his collection.
“At school we had been talking about how cool it would be to have a duck,” he said. “Then one day my friend walks up to me and holds out this little ball of fluff.”
At first, he wasn’t sure what to do with the duckling and thought he would eventually have to take it to a farm, but then “it turned really docile and really friendly so (he) kept it.”
The more attention his family gave Ferdy, the friendlier she became. They soon fell in love with the animal “full of personality,” and since she was “easily one of the cheapest animals to take care of,” they couldn’t let her go. Fisher said he paid $15 for a 50-pound bag of duck feed which lasted about seven months.
Unlike most ducks, Ferdy gets to watch movies, go to church and ride along in the passenger seat of Fisher’s Nissan X-Trail.
“She loves to go for car rides. She’ll just sit there and stare out the window. It’s the weirdest thing ever,” he said. “I’ll pull up to a red light and someone else will pull up beside me and they’ll look at us. Then they look away, then look again. Then they’ll point us out to the other people in their car.”
Although Fisher has had Ferdy for months, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago he found out that “Ferdinand was a Ferdinette.” One day he walked out to the little nest box in the backyard and noticed an egg was lying there.
“It actually works out because my dad is allergic to chicken eggs, but duck eggs are fine,” he said. “They taste exactly the same they’re just a little smaller because Ferdy’s still pretty young.”
Fisher said he’s not the only one with a pet duck. One of his friends also owns a feathered friend and they often joke about going on duck dates. However, Ferdy isn’t too fond of females.
“I’m not sure if it’s something hormonal but she gets all nervous and quacky around girls,” he said. “My mom included.”
Lucky for him, his mom has no problem with having a duck indoors. With a park in their backyard, a little shed with a nest box for Ferdy to sleep in and neighbours who “absolutely love her,” raising the bird has yet to be a problem.
“Goes to show you can domesticate anything,” said Fisher.