Part IV: Master of the Lake; The Great Peking Duck and Yorkshire Terrier Battle; or, "A Scientifically acceptable Anecdotal Example for the Study of Visceralness in Fighting"

Master of the Lake
The Great Peking Duck and Yorkshire Terrier Battle
or,
"A Scientifically Acceptable Anecdotal Example for the Study of Visceralness in Fighting"

A Fairly True Story by Jesse W. Collins II

I just had the wildlife experience of my life. It happened at the lake behind my new apartment. I go there daily to feed the ducks and geese, and especially a Peking which has a broken leg, maybe occurring in a fight with our current alligator. I began to take care of her when one day as I saw that with every step she limped, and then tried to hop, but instead fell over to her side and breast, rolling slightly and shaking. She appeared to be in much pain. Starting at that time, my friend Don -  a true savior of animals in distress -  and I watched over her, protecting her from predators and feeding her a special diet.

On this day two weeks later, she was much better and only easily limping along the shore. As she was coming to eat, it was almost 9am. The morning was bright and showing already that the day was to be clear and sunny. She stopped, requiring me, that is, if I were going to be able to feed her, to wade across the small twenty feet wide creek. Because of the recent heavy rains, its juncture with the lake was high. And I couldn’t leave her there unfed because she had become more than a duck. Now, if ducks could have close human friends, I was one.

Perky Bear, who I also call PB and is my seven inch high six pound Yorkie, stayed on the first bank tied to his twenty-six foot long leash with the handle in my left hand and the lock set for slack to let him roam in the quiet beautiful peaceful place there in the green trimmed low grass that I enjoy so much. His usually floor length hair was half puppy cut to spare him the heat that would likely come next month in the Houston area summer.

PB has long since begun to leave the ducks alone, except for the babies which he would chase as he deemed they needed to be. The big birds, the largest a nearly twenty pound black bodied with white neck Peking, dominate him in height, length and width by feet, not inches. I had dropped some corn and meal for the other three Peking ducks on the near bank now behind me. It also fed their thirty little four inch high babies, a complete flock of the cutest and fuzziest probably ever given birth.

While standing barefoot and knee deep in the creek at its center, with the late April lightly cool wind coming out of the north from across the twelve acres of water - with the Pekings and their half inch thick faux fur looking feather covered little chirplets almost ten yards behind me -  and as I was throwing the feed the rest of the way across (and to the other side of) the stream’s mouth to my limping ward, a crescendo of squawking and flaying of the wind sounded behind me where I had thrown down the feed for the first group. There, in a giant storm of swirling white, black, emerald green and grey feathers, and bright sunlight gleaming through and bouncing off them, with the host of babies running around in a giant circle, and the Pekings battling something in the center and then running for the water leaving the ducklets to the great danger, was my Yorkie growling and chasing everything that moved and flapped and squawked. It was like a wild stampede running first in every direction, then with the water fowl scattering for the lake, only three feet away.

Standing square and tense like the greatest of successful predators, having done his duty of scaring off the immigrants, the outsiders to his lake, PerkyBear glared and growled triumphantly, but with some perplexion as feathers flew above in circles and then around him, finally landing in the water, on the ground, and in his spring cut but still fairly long beautifully colored browns, black and light shaded hair. Inevitably, one feather fell upon his head. He was so proud.

Then like a great saving white and black knight of old, the huge leader of the Pekings, in all his wild beauty and glory, began to flap his wings while floating in a direction toward my boy, the speeding air raising the duck’s body straight up out of the water till he was standing on it. His wing span was five feet and his height over the waterline four. His trumpet challenge began. It was as loud and penetrating of the morning air as Susan Boyle’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” had blown out the back upper tiered rafters of Britain’s famous music hall. As with her voice, the Peking’s harkened to us all, the total composition of present wildlife and me, the lone human on the lake except for the one small, because he was so far away, fisherman on the pier at the other end. It was a tremendous warning and sound of the bugle starting the likes of a full army on its attack, instead of just one duck.

PerkyBear, still standing pitched forward on the water line, shoulders squared and strengthening himself for the challenge, braced for the battle to come, for he understood duck talk, and especially duck challenges and flairs for dramatics. In just such a  presentation of the staunchest bravado came the giant Peking across the ten foot spans of water, leading with his chest extended out and wings flapping and hammering the waves down into concentric circles of flatness. Like a giant noisy rotary blade air plane, a helicopter just off the surface, he began to streak like jet lighting, emulating nothing less with his thunderous wings than the great “Charge of the entire Light Brigade” all by himself, bringing the sound of the tornado in the muscular wings driven storm down upon little PerkyBear, who while starting to hunch down seemed to be changing his mind.  And no doubt he did. Because in a whirlwind maneuver, he fled with all the speed his three inch legs could carry him, running as if  a huge draft of air was blowing him rearward. I could see the rush of wind from the Peking’s extraordinarily powerful wings as he closed on top of my boy. Just as it seemed that PB was to be covered up and smothered in feathers, and stomped with web feet, the duck pulled up. Stopping his forward movement but continuing the wind mill generating the imminent hurricane, he cowered his antagonist.

Quickly, the battle turned again. My flowing haired baby, having most of his life weighed only 4.75 pounds, stopped the headlong retreat and positioned himself once again to stand tensely firm to face from his side this strange new adversary. The humongous Peking, now solidly inland and still tall on his webbed feet, wings stretched to their fullest, his chest thrust to the front for the fight, was claiming victory in no uncertain terms, and now daring my boy to make a move. During a few seconds pause, now a safe eight feet apart, they glared, each standing off his opponent. Only for the seconds lasting interval, though, did the just terrified Yorkie hesitate.

Then, with disbelief at the danger and terror in my heart for my loved one, he reeled to the full front, his fear turning to ferocity displayed with a stance of pure courage that it seemed reinforced from some ancestral power. It was almost viewable in his changing posture to that of a chiseled block of Yorkie emulating granite, steeling for a charge that was to begin as shockingly noble as had the Peking’s from the water only an instant before. Through the call of visceralness, PerkyBear was transformed.

The dog leaped into the air at the jump coming down in a forward leaning driving sprint, and digging in with each striving hair curdling vault with all the muscle God gave terriers. Driving forward like a thoroughbred horse in the home stretch and growling so that if eyes were closed we would think the “Hound of the Baskervilles” was upon us, my sweet boy attacked the duck like US tanks assaulted the previously undefeatable  Panzers in the great armored battle that turned the War in Europe to the favor of the Allies in 1943 North Africa.

The duck, unwavering, and still raised almost off the ground, too, now came forward directly flying-stepping head-on at the Yorkie, even as if strutting in its flaying run poised with the confidence of victory with the impending death of the obstinate and ornery everywhere-at-once furball. On the close, the duck arched his long neck, glaring with red lasers from equally burning deep dark bright eyes, both fixed on the oncoming and damning target. This wild animal showed me to be the most wretched warrior creature in animaldom: a volcano fire eyed demon rising from the depths of Hell. That arrogant duck moved faster than a ball of soft lead fired from a sawed off but over powdered cannon. As these gladiators moved to meet at their points of gene development destiny, the feared shearing clash could be heard before it happened. Now, in a prehistoric attempt to gain equal fighting stature with the oncoming freight train of obvious complete destruction, PerkyBear in the instant before the joining of these great animal forces, growling like the wolf he used to be, leaped like a West Texas Antelope high into the air, magnificently countering his dwarfed size, and with opened mouth and barred teeth he soared straight into the bright white feathered breast of the screeching overwhelmingly advantaged Peking. The crash was not the sound of tearing metal or screeches from broken bone, but instead the sound of a solemn but hard hitting thud caused as if by the slam of a broom into a large rug hanging from the old clothes line in the backyard. The ground took them both with a dull plump as they landed together locked into what I believed would be a life ending grasp, each one for the other.

Never has animal fury rolling on the ground caused such an explosion of hostility between newly, in the total realm of all time, mortal enemies, the Yorkie dog and Peking duck. The four dog legs churned, each at a different speed and in different directions into the full down covered breast. Feathers literally blew from the duck. PB’s fur covered the air and duck in shreds, threads, and patches. That no good scum of the earth duck beat my boy with his wings and giant feet, biting my baby like a Bengal Tiger with what I saw as enormous teeth and fangs instead of a normal ducks nub of a tooth.  The long neck throwing back and forth the white head with a black Mohawk hair cut on its top, and with growths of red ugliness, seemingly like plastic reinforcement for his hammering head, the bill darted and dug with each cobra like strike into the boy’s just manicured coat of mixed silk and coarse threaded gray hair covering his face and body, the last color denoting his ten years of age.

Thinking PB would be blind or dead instantly, and me on the run to save him from ten yards away splashing barefoot through the water, over the sharp rocks underneath the dingy brown surface and through the mean thorns at the edge of the grass, I still was able to see an amazing life event. With no pain or fear dissuading his courage, this six lbs of fur, muscle and 3/8 inch teeth now embedded in the four inch thick feather guarded breast of the malevolent animal, my little tamed house lapdog was taking the beast unrelentingly to the graveyard of granddaddy Pekings.

Suddenly, at the last fraction of a second, certain death was avoided for one of them as the great Peking, from a side prone position in the grass and weeds, and with the huge wings slamming into the ground and PerkyBear, began to levitate straight up into the air with the Yorkie seeming to hang by his teeth from the duck’s chest. As my PB’s feet lifted the first inches off the ground, so did my stomach, lungs, heart and frontal lobe. The wings accelerated taking the duck higher and PB with him. But finally with incomparable relief, I watched the now strengthening Yorkie, my Yorkie, fall away to the ground, and at the same time of his landing actually positioning  himself for the onslaught certain to dive from atop. The now Great Yorkie, my PB, stood high on hind legs, opening his jaws wide in readiness to eat more duck feathers, but regrettably spending most of that action spitting the same from his mouth. Repeating the growling, he waived his front paws, but which virtually had no nails given his monthly pedicure, up at the duck still poised ominously in midair directly overhead. As the moment of decision for the Peking arrived again this, the fifth, time, PerkyBear’s warrior stature showed him to be every bit as valiant as the lioness which fought against the gargantuan Mammoth about to trounce her with his front powerful howitzers, smashing the female into kingdom come, no matter the lioness’ phylogenetically generated transitioning valor.

But that little brave dog, that is, the Lioness, out there was my baby! Still terrified, I kept running to save him, trying to pull on the slack of the long leash as the great ones contemplated again joining their death throws while starring at each other, making the decision for life with pride or death for eternity. In the 125 foot cube of air over my dog, like a UH1E I saw rise on a hill at Bihn Son, and twirl under Vietcong machinegun fire with glowing tracers passing through its openings and within inches of her crew, the Great Duck turned like that helicopter and rose higher, but like a wounded king of the water and land, now rumbled through space more like a floundering blimp than the perfectly attuned royalty that had begun his protection of his flock just minutes earlier. Before I could run another step, he was leaving the battlefield clumping out for the security of the Ohh so peaceful lake. In that instant, PB lowered his front legs and paws, and the granite like intensity that formed at the great charge’s onset, melted away fast as if hyper speed time-lapse photography, showing that my boy knew it was over.  He had lived. He had won.

I stopped my too slow saving charge and watched my baby begin to sniff the ground as if on just another morning stroll in the grass, then walking up to the dirt and gravel path, but not before raising his leg and leaving his mark on the field of his and the duck’s valor. Once on the gravel path, he stopped and looked toward the lake where its former master floated calmly. They seemed to look at each other, as I thought having been a great therapist once, with absolute mutual respect.

I walked my sweetheart halfway back to the apartment. The cats ran away this time without consideration of threatening him. And even though he had become the new master of the lake, probably except for our duck eating alligator, of which I eventually will become the master hopefully as fearless and honorable as did PB, I, in this new round of survival of the fittest of the species, picked up my treasure and cradled him in my arms. He laid his head against my chest, pooped, worn out, and watched his new apartment life as we passed by it in peace, security and tranquility, returning my loving buddy, a sweet but terrific, as in terrifying, Yorkie, to our apartment. My baby was home. And I wasn’t sure if I could use the handle, “Baby,” any longer.

I doubt now that my boy in his life will fight any more ducks on our way to feed them. In case I’m wrong, the leash will be kept tight as I had decided not to do this one time by the mouth of the creek. And I’m sure by the look in his totally surprised eye, that the Great Peking while paddling off in the safer distance also made a decision of epiphany proportion. He would never take on another Yorkie as long as his hopefully wonderful life continues. And my lesson learned? I will buy a deluxe line digital camcorder and audio capture system supreme to carry on all future duck feeding excursions into my wildlife sanctuary with its beloved solitude, peace and serenity. 

 

Jesse W. Collins II

© 2009