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Real Life

REAL LIFE: Meet the surfing duck making a splash around Australia's beaches

This duck knows how to turn heads.

By Laura Trieste

Kate Miller from the Gold Coast, Qld, shares her story with Take 5's Laura Trieste:

Standing on the beach, I smiled as I watched Duck excitedly waddle after my son, Tom, into the water.
This was our new feathered friend's first time in the surf and he looked like he was in heaven.
He happily swam alongside Tom, who was paddling on his surfboard ready to catch a wave.
"Let's go, Duck," Tom yelled as he stood up on his board.
When the wave came towards them, Duck began to spread his wings, push his head back and glide over the wave with ease.
Seeing Tom's excitement for Duck's natural surfing talents was beautiful.
I was excited too, but I wasn't surprised.
Getting into a flap at the beach with Tom. (Image: Bree Dalgleish @mialmaphotography)
Duck is my family's fourth pet duck, all of which were named Duck and three of which have loved to surf.
We got Duck 1 more than 30 years ago because we wanted a pet that we could take sailing with us.
He loved to jump off the yacht and come swimming with us and soon enough he started riding waves with us too, much to the delight of the local surfers.
Our third one was also a keen surfer and quickly became a local celebrity at Rainbow Bay beach.
It's always been a joy to watch how excited people get when they see our surfing ducks.
"That's made my day," people often told me.
But Tom was only three and I didn't want him to have to worry about getting swamped by crowds every time we went out.
So I decided to give Duck 3 a new home after I saw how much a family friend's six-year-old son, Liam, took a shine to him.
Liam had autism and was non-verbal.
But he started speaking naturally to Duck every time he came to visit.
"Would you like to have Duck come to live with you?" I asked him one day.
He nodded excitedly.
Out on the water. (Image: Art Baltrotsky)
Last year, Tom asked me if we could get another duck.
By then he was 15 and we were in the middle of a lockdown during COVID, so it felt like a good time to raise a duckling.
"Let's do it," I said.
Soon enough we were on our way to a poultry farm."Here you go," the farmer said, handing us the cute little ball of fluff we named Duck 4. "He just hatched six hours ago."
Duck 4 was three weeks old when he started surfing with us and he's loved it ever since.
As soon as we open the sunscreen bottle he starts excitedly running around in circles in the backyard because he knows that smell means we're going to the beach.
When he feels like having a break from catching waves, he jumps onto people's surfboards to sit and have a bit of a chat.
Duck 4's fame has reached a whole new level thanks to social media.
Videos of him surfing have spread around the world.
Our duck caught the world's attention. (Image: Bree Dalgleish @mialmaphotography)
People now travel to Rainbow Bay just to see the famous surfing duck.
He's also loved by the locals, including champion surfer Stephanie Gilmore who's met all of our surfing ducks over the years.
"Let's get a photo together," she said to Tom when she met Duck 4.
Living with a duck is not all fun and games and it's not suited for everyone.
It's important to do your research and check council regulations before you buy one.
Hand raising and house training Duck 4 from the day he was born took a lot of time and effort but it was worth it.
He's not just our surfing buddy, he's a part of the family, sitting at the table in his little high chair to have dinner with us, cuddling on the couch while we watch TV and making us laugh every day.
The fact that he also brings joy to others when he surfs is just the icing on the cake.
Check out Duck's Instagram page @rainbowbayduck
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