Who could have ever imagined that they would see a dog raising ducklings? The owners at Mountfitchet Castle hadn't either until their 10-year-old Labrador took it upon himself to save a gaggle of ducklings.
Single parenthood can be tough but rewarding. Just ask Fred, the adorable senior Labrador, who has taken a brood of ducklings orphaned under his paw after their mom faded several weeks ago.
The ten-year-old pooch is the resident pet at Mountfitchet Castle near Stansted, Essex, where a member of staff found the lost siblings waddling around the battlements. Staff at the popular tourist attraction said they were worried about the ducklings, but Fred immediately took to them and has been babysitting ever since.
Jeremy Goldsmith, director of Mountfitchet Castle, said: "We knew the mother duck was nesting and then suddenly these ducklings appeared, but she was nowhere to be seen. We think it was possibly a fox."
Jeremy, who is also Fred's owner, added: "Fred has got a wonderful nature. They love him." The owners of the attraction even say that he has been spotted swimming with his duckling brood in the castle's moat as well as giving the baby ducks a lift on his back when their little legs get tired.
However, it is not the first time Fred has bonded with a rescue animal. Last year, Jeremy and his wife took in an injured squirrel that they found at the side of the road and nicknamed fleabag. He spent six months living in the family kitchen, often with Fred at his side.
It's not surprising, however, that this good boy has taken in six more orphaned ducklings. Fred was more willing to raise them when their mom, a Muscovy duck, abandoned them. As if nine ducklings weren't enough, Fred is now the father to a whopping 15 baby ducklings.
The expanded family now enjoys their time traveling around Mountfitchet Castle, taking in the sun and enjoying the views. The Goldsmith family thankfully keeps fans abreast with awesome pictures of Fred and his ducklings on their Instagram account @mountfitchetcastle.
Adorable photos show Fred lying on the grass in the castle grounds, his adopted children nestling by his side. In one picture, the nine brothers and sisters can be seen sitting on his back.
Fred isn't the only interesting animal in this 10-acre medieval castle which is home to peacocks, deer, and goats. The castle once functioned as a hill fort during the Iron Age period then it was transformed into the Norman Motte and Bailey Castle. Romans, Saxons, and Vikings all occupied this magnificent piece of the wooden castle back in the day.
The castle stays modern these days by keeping its legion of followers smiling on social media with photos of Fred the Labrador and his new little ducklings.