Good shepherd plucks lucky ducks to safety with his jaws

WHEN the two tiny ducklings were snapped up into the sharp jaws of a large German shepherd, they must have thought their time on earth was up.

But as luck would have it for the frightened mallard ducklings that had lost their mother, the dog that plucked them from the undergrowth had only their best interests at heart.

Duke, a one-year-old German shepherd, found the two ducklings hidden in long grass next to his owner's workplace on the edge of the Thornybank Industrial Estate in Dalkeith.

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And despite having the natural instincts of a hunter, the dog gently took them in its mouth and carried them back to his blanket, putting them down where it was warm and even washing them clean with his tongue.

Staff from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals believe the dog almost certainly saved them from being torn apart by predators.

The tiny ducklings have now been taken into care by the Scottish SPCA and are being looked after at the Middlebank Wildlife Centre in Dunfermline.

Duke's owner, Lorraine Martin, said she was stunned the dog had found the ducklings, although admitted he had always been a very gentle dog. Mrs Martin, 45, of Wardieburn Terrace, Edinburgh, hand-reared the dog since he was just seven weeks old, after he was found abandoned.

A security guard at the estate, Mrs Martin always takes Duke to work with her, as his fearsome looks make him an ideal guard dog. She said: "I had just taken him out for a walk around the site and he went straight into the bushes and was sniffing around excitedly. Then his head came up and I could see he had something in his mouth, but I couldn't tell what it was.

"I told him to drop it, but he just ignored me and padded back into the cabin where his blanket is.

"When I went inside I saw he had put two baby ducklings on his blanket and was standing over them, licking them to make sure they were clean."

Staff at the Middlebank Wildlife Centre already have 50 ducklings and said the duo were lucky to have been picked up by such a friendly animal instead of a predator.

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Sandra Bonar, manager of the centre, said: "Ducklings often wander away from the nest at this time of year and they can be in a lot of danger from cats and gulls and crows, all of which will pick them up and kill them. These two were lucky to have been caught in such a friendly pair of jaws."

The ducklings will be looked after by staff at the centre until they are old enough to be released into the wild.

Doreen Graham, spokeswoman for the Scottish SPCA, said: "The fact is the actions of this dog have saved the lives of these animals, as once they are lost from their mother they would be picked off quite easily by scavengers.

"This dog is a modern day Rin Tin Tin, and to pick them up in his mouth without harming them is quite something.

"To then try and wash them is just amazing behaviour."

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