Not long after Suzie first came to live with us, we bought her a cuddly toy. I had never given a dog a cuddly toy before and was quite surprised to see how much she loved her fluffy little duckling. She loved it so much that we indulged her with a second cuddly shortly afterwards. A wabbit. She loved that too but not a great deal, until the time that she shredded her duckling. The wabbit came up the rankings but we wanted to replace the fluffy white duckling with the bright yellow beak. We searched the shops. And we failed. The wabbit took some stick and became quite tatty. We kept searching.

We couldn’t replace her duckling but we did find something else. It was a Mallard and it quacked. It rapidly superseded the wabbit in her affections. That duck slept with her and was carried everywhere. The amazing thing was how gentle she was with it. Several years later, it still looked like new despite being her constant companion. When we lived up in the hills the duck was left out a few times in the near-constant rain that we had there and it became faded and slightly mildewed but remained whole and unchewed. She really loved that duck. Then one day we realised that we didn’t have it any longer. We fear that it was left in the grass at Wanlockhead and never made it North when we moved. Poor Suzie!

Fast Forward to Mr L’s trip Sooth last week. He was visiting family on holiday near Inverness. To make more economic sense of the trip, he did some shopping and bought a few things that we can’t get locally or which come at a premium up here. He went to Matalan and the big Tesco Extra store, and he also went to Pets at Home – where he secured a new Mallard. For Nell, he chose a ball on a big cotton rope because she loves throw and play and tug toys and adores to chew cotton ropes. Griff got nothing because poor old Griff doesn’t understand toys and play at all.

Suzie’s joy on being given her Mallard back was unconfined. She’s getting on a bit and now rarely looks as perky as she did in that moment.What a happy dog! She sat there, looking stupid in the way that only Suzie can – Mallard protruding from either side of her mouth and a real gleam in her eyes. It must be three years since the original beast went missing but she clearly hadn’t forgotten her attachment. I’ll tell you what, though – this one smells a whole lot more pleasant than the last one did at the point of loss!

Suzie played on and off all evening with her Mallard, she found the quacker and she quacked and quacked and quacked and … what is it with dogs and toy squeakers? It’s a control thing, right? Must be.

Enter Little Nell.

Yes. Nell likes that Mallard too and she keeps on stealing it from Suzie – who is being surprisingly tolerant of the thefts. Nell likes the quacker too and can sound it with greater frequency than Suzie can. I may have to operate on that duck!

So, yesterday when we spotted the 20p sheep we thought we would buy that for Nell and maybe giving her a cuddly of her own would mean that Suzie’s duck would be left in peace. Yes, Nell likes the sheep but…

… it doesn’t quack, does it?

This post came to you from the fibre-free zone of the Windswept Acre. (Heck, it has the word “sheep” in it, what more do you need?)

Mallard Status: currently on our bed, with Nell