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Friday, April 27, 2012

Quackers! The man who takes his pet duck Boris everywhere... even on holiday (and carries the bird over his head when it rains)

By Lyle Brennan

Sun cream, beach towel, toothbrush... duck?

When Wayne O'Donnell jets off to Spain's Costa Brava each summer, his feathered friend Boris is the one thing he wouldn't leave home without.

Back in Romsey, Hampshire, the pair are inseparable, and Boris, an Aylesbury duck, wanders loyally down the street with his owner, like a dog being taken for a walk.

Best friends: Wayne O'Donnell and his Aylesbury duck Boris are inseparable

He even enjoys sipping beer in bars, taking a ride in the passenger seat of Mr O'Donnell's car and perching on the top his owner’s head.

In fact, there’s only one thing the pet duck doesn’t like - and that’s swimming in water.

Caravan technician Mr O'Donnell, 41, takes Boris with him whenever he heads off to spend his summer holidays at a villa in Barcelona.

They go for strolls along the sandy beaches in the Spanish sun and are the talk of local bars and restaurants.

Mr O'Donnell said: 'People sort of look gobsmacked when they see me and Boris, they can’t work it out.

'Intelligent creatures': The duck follows his owner through the streets of Romsey, Hampshire, like a dog. In the four years they have been together, Mr O'Donnell has taught Boris to lie on his head

Riding shotgun: Boris sits happily in the passenger seat of Mr O'Donnell's caruff

'But it’s the dogs that really can’t work it out - they sit there and think "what are you?". But Boris is not worried at all by them.

'He doesn’t think he’s a duck. He is an unusual pet, but they’re very intelligent creatures.

'People say to me "why have you got a duck?" and I say "why have you got a dog?".'

Mr O'Donnell named Boris - who he has had since he was a day-old hatchling - after the village in Ireland where he first had a pet duck.

And in the near-four years since, they have become inseparable, with one of the duck’s favourite tricks being to lie on his owner’s head.

When Mr O'Donnell takes his pet out for walks, Boris happily waddles alongside him without the need for a lead to keep him under control.

He said: 'I try to take him out for walks every day.

'It’s what attracted me to Romsey, because it’s a lot quieter and easier to take him out than it was when I lived in Bath, Somerset.'

Keeps the rain off: The 41-year-old caravan technician shows off Boris's favourite trick

'He doesn't think he's a duck': Boris hates water and was never taught to swim, preferring human pursuits such as going for a quiet drink down the pub or jetting off to the Costa Brava for a stroll along the beach

And not liking to be apart from his pet has even led Mr O'Donnell to take Boris with him for a holiday on the Spanish Costa Brava.

He said: 'I’ve got friends there and they didn’t believe I had a duck that walked around with me, so I thought "right, I’ll prove it".

'I hired a villa which was brilliant for him, but he stayed in two hotels in France on the drive down.

'It was brilliant because I could take him everywhere - the streets were narrow so he could walk around, he even came on the beach.

'But before I left the authorities wanted to treat him as if he was going in the food chain and test him for salmonella.

'I said anyone who eats him deserves all they get - he’s a pet.'

And although Boris took to foreign travel like a duck to water, water is the one thing he’s not so keen on.

Mr O’Donnell added: 'Unfortunately, I didn’t teach him how to swim.

'I used to take him out on canal boats and he stayed on the deck because he doesn’t like getting in water.'

Travelling companion: Mr O'Donnell said the port authorities in France and Spain were wary of Boris and were convinced he was going to enter the food chain



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