Keeper was seen walking around alone and confused in a Walmart parking lot. Since there was no water nearby, it is most probable that someone dropped her there. Fortunately, a worried individual saw Keeper and got in touch with Alyssa’s Animal Sanctuary to see if they could assist.
“She is a Pekin duck, so she can’t fly, so for a duck to be hanging around a place where there isn’t water nearby is weird to start with,” the woman said. “But when she noticed she was staying up near the doors, near where people were at, like she wanted someone to help her, and when she noticed she had difficulty walking and had a bad limp, that’s when she decided to call us.
“We noticed right away that she had trouble swimming,” Barry told The Dodo. “When her feathers got wet the water did not bead off of her like it should have, but instead the water soaked her and she would become waterlogged.
So her ability to float and stay above water became difficult for her, and then when she would paddle her feet, her feet would hit each other, and she would immediately start showing signs of stress, so we would pull her out of the water, and just sort of quickly learned that she wouldn’t be able to use our big pool.”
After a little research, Barry realized that Keeper was born without a preen gland, which produces oils that make ducks waterproof. Her missing gland on top of her pigeon-toed feet meant that Keeper wouldn’t be able to swim and hang out in the water with the other ducks, as she could end up drowning, and Barry could tell that not being able to be near her new family for most of the day made Keeper sad right from the start.
The ducks like to stay with their paddlings (their group/family), so every day I would watch as her family would go up into the pool and she would sit at the bottom of the ramp by herself until they came back down, Barry said.
“She of course has a kiddie pool that she can get into at any time and stand in,” he added. “It broke my heart to see her waiting for her family to exit the pool alone at the bottom of the ramp as they played in the water all day,” I said.
Barry had no idea if the floatie would work out or not, but she decided it was worth a try. She brought it back to the sanctuary and tried to teach Keeper how to use it, and after a little trial and error, the little duck became a pro.
“She learned very quickly that she could balance perfectly fine on it, and she WANTED to be on it,” Barry said. “It only took her a few minutes to realize that now she was in the pool with her family and she was perfectly content and sat there all day long. It just sort of became this daily thing, where we would pick her up and put her on her float and she loved it. I think she finally felt like she could be part of her family again.”
Keeper likes that she now has a means to be with her family without having to actually get in the water. She had been so unhappy to see her family leave for the pool every day and not be able to join them.
She has practically taken over as the ruler of the duck pond since she is perfectly satisfied to spend the entire day floating about on her floatie while keeping a careful watch on her brood.
The other ducks aren’t bothered at all by the floatie, despite its size. They enjoy Keeper’s company and have the utmost regard for her and her floating throne.
“The other ducks have not tried to get on her floatie at all, or even bother her when she’s on it,” Barry said. “She just lounges on it all day and it just sort of blows around the pool in the breeze and it works perfectly!”
Even though Keeper herself isn’t exactly water safe, her family at the sanctuary made sure there was a plan in place in case she ever fell in the pool and someone wasn’t around to help her.
There’s an underwater ledge that extends out from the ramp into the pool, so if Keeper accidentally loses her balance and falls in, she can get herself safely to the ledge and then use it to jump back onto her floatie. It’s all been working out really well, but of course, the sanctuary is always trying to come up with ways to make her life even easier.
The duck floatie she has has changed her life, according to Barry. “We are working on enlarging the ledge to stretch over the entire length of the pool, and making the water even more accessible for her,” he added.
Despite the fact that Keeper is a little different from the other ducks, she is still able to do all of their actions with ease and a little more flair owing to her duck floatie.