Dally the duck teaches tough life lessons

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 9:13 PM CST
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Most 14-year-olds want a pet. But how many want to venture into livestock?

“I originally wanted chickens but my mom did not want chickens,” said 9th grade Bozeman High School student Karter Berens. “So we decided to get two ducks.”

Berens named the two ducks Dilly and Dally. It was her responsibility to care for them. Their pen was made out of Hurricane Michael debris. After 8 months of no problems, an animal ripped into the pen and attacked the two ducks. Dilly was killed and Dally was barely holding on.

“It was pretty bad,” Berens said. “She had a lot of deep gashes in her side. She had two punctures one was under her neck and one was under her wing. They’re both still healing, but they’re getting a lot better.”

Berens didn’t want to let her feathery friend out of her sight.

“I actually stayed home to take care of her,” said Berens. “I did school online that day but I stayed home to monitor her and make sure she’s okay.”

At the same time, she had to deal with the violent loss of Dilly.

During the months of rehabilitation, Dally was really pampered.

“She kind of likes to be petted under the chin or on top of her head or under her beak,” said Berens.

When she went outside Dally always had Berens as a shadow.

Because ducks are social creatures Berens didn’t want Dally to be lonely so now there are two more ducks. Nellie and Nugget.

“She (Dally) didn’t like them at first,” said Berens. “I think she thought they were a threat to her.”

Berens is studying agriculture at Bozeman High School. Dally, Nellie and Nugget have given her a crash course on responsibility.

“They’re a lot of work,” said Berens. “They’re really messy, but they’re really fun at the same time. They’ll eat right out of your hands.”

She’s done her homework on these little quackers.

“They love spinach and peas. Nellie really loves crickets,” said Berens. “They love just playing in the dirt, they love shiny and fingers. They’re really good at foraging.”

Some things you don’t learn from a book.

“They’re very clumsy animals,” said Berens. “It doesn’t matter if there’s a ball in their way or a bowl they walk right over it. The reason I think that Nellie is a girl and Nugget is a guy is because Nellie’s a lot more vocal and chatty and she’s just starting to get her quack in and then Nugget is more quiet.”

Since the attack, the duck pen has been reinforced. So for the last few days, Dally along with her little friends have spent more time outside.

Berens believes Dally still remembers her first friend.

“I think she still kind of misses her bestie,” said Berens.

And after months of TLC Dally is finally waddling back.

“She’s sassy and bossy,” said Berens. “She’s back to herself.”

Berens is interested in working with animals as a career and is enjoying all that she’s learning as a first-year FFA student.

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