For about ten years, a mallard couple would arrive annually each April and paddle about for a bit in our pool until some deep duck instinct or our dog Riley barking convinced them to leave for greener pastures, or bluer ponds, as the case may be. We were so used to this, that we actually named them – Loretta and Larry – and even had some bread ready to welcome them back. Of course, when I say we, I mean my son and daughter. My husband and I were less than thrilled to have a pair of birds shedding and pooing in our pool and were relieved when they finally found new digs and stopped coming around.
Strangely enough, the timing of their departure seemed to coincide with the passing of our dog Riley. It was almost as though they came just to taunt him because he wouldn’t chase them in the pool, and once he was gone, they had no reason for being here. When I mentioned this to my husband, he gave me his usual, “My wife is out of her mind” look that he has filed for trademark because he uses it so often.
But then, two years ago we got another dog. And oddly, suddenly, Loretta and Larry returned.
It happened on a recent spring day like any other. The dog was at the back door and suddenly began to bark hysterically (which, to the uninitiated, sounds a lot like a barking dog who sucked on a helium balloon and is stuck on replay).
Naturally I suspected there was a squirrel or a bird grabbing his attention. However, this was definitely not his squirrel bark. It was more like his woodchuck bark or something else he doesn’t see often or ever.
(By the way, if you think I spend far too much time analyzing my dog’s barks, you’re probably right).
“What is it, Monty?” I asked him. “Do we have something in the backyard? Is it another woodchuck?”
I didn’t really expect an answer, but I wanted to validate his barking so he didn’t think we ignored the subtleties of his various barks. He’s sensitive that way.
I peered out the window of the back door. I certainly didn’t want to let him out to chase whatever it was on the off chance that whatever it was was bigger than the dog.
That’s when I saw them: Loretta and Larry paddling around the pool, happy as clams and as buoyant as two birds can be.
Having never met our snowbirds, Monty was chomping at the bit to make their acquaintance and remind them that we actually have a “NO DUCK” policy in our pool.
Knowing that Monty is a wimp when it comes to the pool (and something of an embarrassment to his Golden Retriever lineage) I knew that he would not actually jump into the pool and try to grab the ducks, but merely bark them back to Boca Raton or whatever winter retirement community they had flown in from.
So I let him out.
The dog took off for the pool and ran back and forth along the deck giving them an earful of his helium bark. If ducks could smile, I would swear they were smirking at him. As I looked away for a moment, I suddenly heard a splash, and there was Monty, dog paddling his little heart out toward the ducks. Having never encountered an actual swimming dog, Larry and Loretta did the only thing that made sense: They flapped their wings and flew the coop.
“Monty, COME!” I yelled to him.
He immediately vacated the pool and ran back to the door.
“Look at you! I guess you’re not a wimpy dog after all,” I complimented him. “How do you feel now?”
He shook off the water all over me and then barked.
I’m pretty sure that one meant, “Just ducky.”