Diary of a SAFFA Dog – Ducks, Crocs and a Lily Pond

It was a beautiful morning on the Goldie, one of those mornings that make you feel glad to be alive, when you can for a moment in time, peacefully immerse yourself in the glory of creation.

As always we arose with the breaking dawn and readied ourselves for another busy day.  We took an early walk around the lake as we are on yet another ‘get fit campaign’ and Mother hates the gymnasium.

We rushed back home to get our chores done as we are in the process of renovating the garden beds and work was to commence before breakfast. . We have had the pleasure of the company of our cousins, Sid and Cookie, for the last few days as their mom has been heavily involved in the ‘new garden’ project.

The Doodle cousins arrived early as usual and work commenced in a flurry of mad activity.  Holes were dug, plants were moved.  The wheelbarrow trundled up and down the pathway loaded with rubbish, returning with rich black soil to nourish our newly planted garden beds.

The workers taking a well deserved break, when Sid’s mom spotted our pool ‘pets’, commenting that they were looking a bit worse for wear and saying that she would give them a bit of spit and polish to return them to their former glorious state

Mother, who generally does not believe in renovating the old but rather prefers the purchase of something new, said she could do whatever she liked, being rather skeptical that they could indeed avoid the rubbish heap in the end.

The day passed in a flurry of activity, we were constantly accused of ‘being underfoot’ and were promised a nice walk at the park if we shuffled off somewhere and left the workers in peace.  I advised the younger members of our group to make themselves scarce and not to cause any more interruptions as this would only delay our departure for the park.

By mid afternoon we hardly recognised the garden, which had taken on a Balinese look I thought.   Lush foliage had replaced dried out and dead plants. New mulch had been added and the decaying aura had been removed.  The whole scene now had the feel of a warm tropical evening, enlivend by the  scent of frangipani floating across the warm afternoon air.

As promised, we were loaded into the car for our long awaited  excursion.  Sid’s mom threw the ‘pool pets’ into her vehicle together with the Doodle cousins, saying that she would meet us at the park in a short while.

With great excitement we arrived at our destination. We rushed off in several different directions to greet our friends, many of whom had been spotted on arrival.  We exchanged greetings and enquired after each other’s health.

Sid and Cookie appeared from over the hill and we all sped off once again, this time to greet a newcomer who had just appeared at the park gates.  This meeting was to be the first incident of the afternoon, Barney and Sid are sometimes rather over the top with their greetings and today was to be no exception.

Barney ran up to the small fluffy object who had just entered, for what he mistakenly thought, was to be a peaceful evening stroll.

He was surrounded on all sides by what must to him have seemed to him giant whirling dervishes.

The miniscule being immediately began to squeal hysterically as though he was being murdered.  His irate owner told Mother, somewhat waspishly, I thought, to get her mutt under control.

Barney was called to heel and remonstrated with about his sloppy behavior.  Personally I don’t know why the woman bothers to chastise him as he is completely unable to retain even the simplest of instructions when he is in this sort of mood.

By this stage we were approaching our most favourite part of the park, the lily pond.  It is an exciting place, dark muddy water covered with large green leaves spotted with the occasional white bloom poking up out of the murky depths.

The bottom of the pond is covered in thick black mud and the whole area can be quite malodorous at times.  We have been known in the past to rush from this watery heaven and roll in the large piles of sweet smelling manure that the Council very kindly leaves conveniently close by.  My nostrils twitched with excitement as the faint smell of the farmyard drifted across the freshly cut lawn towards us.

The lily pond appeared to have attracted a small crowd this particular evening.  There were half a dozen people chattering somewhat excitedly at one end and a family of ducks were pottering around on the edge closest to us.  They appeared to be about to launch themselves off for an early evening swim.  I could see five or six small brown chicks milling around listening to last minute instructions from their papa.

We were wondering what all the excitement was about when, at the same time as the duck family launched themselves into the water, a shout went up from the group on the far side of the pond.

‘Crocodile, there’s a crocodile in the pond’ came from the youngest member of the group.  We all peered into the gathering gloom of the early evening to see what the youngster was looking at.  Indeed, there was something floating in the pond that looked remarkably like a crocodiles head.

Mother suddenly saw that the duck family was sailing serenely towards the open jaws of the beast, completely unaware that there was a possibility they were all about to become duck stew.  Mother says that duck mothers are a pretty useless breed at the best of times. I knew assistance should be offered, but I too did not want to end up as crocodile supper.

Suddenly, Barney and Sid took off at high speed towards the pond.  They had spotted the duck family and thought it would be great entertainment to chase them from the pond.

They plunged into the water tails flailing and ears flapping, the thrill of the chase making them oblivious to shouting and screaming of the onlookers.  They landed right in the midst of the family flock.  The chicks scattered in terror not knowing from whence the attack had come.

Unbelievably, the mother duck continued swimming forwards completely unaware that her brood had been scattered to the four corners of the lily pond.  We could see that she was also oblivious to the crocodile and was floating, quite serenely I thought, towards her fate.

Barney and Sid were in hot pursuit of a couple of the chicks, who by this stage had reached the shoreline.  Just as the two black dogs were about to swoop on their prey, the chicks reached the relative safety of the reeds and disappeared from view.

Disappointed that they had not managed to catch the chicks the now out of control canine pair turned their attention to the mother duck.  The peaceful evening had turned into a scene from hell, people were screaming, dogs were barking, children were crying and all the while Sid and Barney were enjoying a huge game of ‘catch me if you can’ in the lily pond.

Someone, it appeared, had called the Emergency Services and  the sound of sirens pierced the evening air.  The Police and Fire Brigade arrived simultaneously adding to the chaos around the pond.

The crowd was moved away from the waters edge and a police cordon set up.  Sid and Barney, however, continued to harass the mother duck, who was completely unfazed by their somewhat vulgar behavior.

Mother was hysterically shouting for Barney to come out of the pond as they appeared to be circling the crocodile, getting nearer by the minute.  He was involved in the thrill of the chase and totally oblivious to Mother’s shrill voice telling him to return immediately.

Suddenly, the novelty of chasing the duck seem to have worn off and he started to swim, somewhat purposefully, towards the crocodile.  Mother pleaded with the Emergency Services personnel to save him, but they also were not too keen on becoming crocodile supper, Barney it appeared was to be left to his fate.

To the surprise of all the onlookers, who by now were anticipating a rather bloody and unpleasant end to their daily outing, Barney grabbed the croc by the head and started swimming back toward the shore.

The crowd exclaimed at his courage and tenacity, The Emergency Services moved forward in anticipation, Barney emerged from the muddy waters with the crocodile’s head firmly grasped in his mouth.

We were all somewhat astounded that he had managed to decapitate what had appeared to be a fairly large croc.  The crowd applauded him and congratulations were showered upon his now smelly and muddy head

Mother rushed to gather him up in her arms, all anger at his disobedient behavior forgotten in the relief of the moment.  He had dropped the beast’s head the minute he saw her and I could see that the Police were now examining the corpse.

Once the excitement had passed we were summoned by the Constabulary to come and look at the crocs remains. I was horrified to be told that they had found the animal was not real, but a plastic replica. Oh my word I thought, who would do such a thing.

In  that instant I looked down and saw that the ‘crocodile’ was none other than one of our pool pets, rescued by Sid’s mom that morning and apparently  placed in the lily pond as a joke. She had been pretty quiet throughout the whole incident which as she now realised had got quite out of hand.

Luckily we have not been banned from the park….










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