Mountfitchet Castle in Stansted, Essex, is a reconstructed Norman castle and a well-known tourist attraction. However, people don’t just come for the castle. They also come to see Fred the Labrador, who is a welcoming and loving presence of the castle.
Now, at the age of ten, Fred is getting a chance at fatherhood in an unexpected way!
In May, castle staff noticed nine tiny ducklings wandering around the grounds. They didn’t seem to know where they were going, but their mother wasn’t with them. Sadly, it’s been speculated that their mother may have been taken by a fox after the ducklings had hatched.
Fred to the rescue
The castle staff was worried that the ducklings would be able to survive the castle grounds long enough to get to the water. They needed a parent to guide them.
However, Fred immediately took to caring for the ducklings! Fred isn’t too different from their real mom—he’s at least got soft fur—but he is proving himself to be a good foster parent.
Jeremy Goldsmith, the owner of the castle, said, “He has grown up with me and my wife Jo in the castle and our house with rescued animals. We even had a squirrel in the kitchen for six months we rescued from the roadside.”
Having been surrounded by other rescues for years, Fred is certainly an ideal rescuer himself to these ducklings. The ducklings seem to have imprinted on Fred. They’ve begun to follow him everywhere! Fred looks out for them, too, and in turn, swims with them in the castle moat every day.
At the end of the day, Fred and his new ducklings share a basket in the house to sleep in. The ducklings must rely on Fred to keep them safe and warm, but the old dog has gotten to be accustomed to his nine little shadows.
“Fred has such a loving way. He is such a natural father and parent,” Goldsmith said.
It’s speculated that Fred will play the stay-at-home dad for two months before the ducklings become independent and can fly.
Though he’s new to the time-consuming task of raising a family, Fred seems up to the challenge, and his owners are very proud of him!
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